NEW YORK (MainStreet) Interns almost always offer cheap, reliable labor, but how far should you push your younger part-timers their first time on the job? This year, 53% of all American companies with 100 or more employees will hire more interns than they did in 2012, according to Internships.com. Thankfully, the talent is there 65% of companies report receiving more applications than ever before.
Although interns can eventually turn into valuable full-time staffers (69% of companies made full-time offers to their interns last year) experts say there are some things your interns should never be asked to do, no matter how much you trust them or how desperate you are for a helping hand. We've got a rundown on the top seven duties best left to full-time staff.
1. Keep them away from sensitive information
Anything pertaining to employee records or sensitive customer information should always be off limits for an intern, says Michelle Benjamin, CEO and founder of TalentREADY, a talent management company.
"Depending on the industry, there can be several types of sensitive information," Benjamin says. When in doubt, leave anything private to full-time workers.
If interns will have access to confidential information even limited access it's essential to provide them with the proper nondisclosure agreements and training, says Amy Burton Loggins, attorney at Atlanta-based law firm Taylor English Duma.
"You want to limit access to the most valuable or secret information," Loggins says, especially if it's proprietary or trade secret information.
2. Don't give them too many menial tasks
Most interns will be doing their fair share of printing, copying and ordering office supplies, but this should not be their main focus, Benjamin says. Make sure that they have a defined project that they can complete during their internship.
"A good litmus test on how to treat your intern is asking yourself, 'If you were them, what would you feel about the task you're asking?'" says Liz Carey, co-founder of leadership development firm Emerge. "If your answer is, 'I wouldn't feel too good about it,' then probably it is not a good idea to ask them to do that."