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How to Write an Intern Work Agreement

Having an intern learn and work from you can be a great thing for your business. The laws can get pretty strict, so make sure you loop in an HR consultant if you plan to pay. 

But once you bring them onboard, you want to create an agreement about how you'll work together and set some clear expectations early on. They may be super smart, but even still, students are being exposed to the working world for the first time. Things that may seem like a no-brainer for those of us with a nearly a decade or more of work experience may be really new to them. 


Here is some example language you might use:

Example agreement:

The following document outlines the work agreement between INTERN and YOUR BUSINESS.

As an intern mentor, my goal is to develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect.

By signing this document, we are agreeing to work together to build a great experience for you as a student, trusting that you are ready to work hard. If you give me your best: smart thinking, resourcefulness, ownership of your work, and professionalism, you will be treated the same in return.

By signing we are also agreeing that we believe strong partnerships are built when expectations are clearly set and open communication exists between both sides. Assignments will be delivered in full within agreed upon timing, just as clear directions, mentoring and your PAYMENT* will be delivered to you.

Time Commitment and Expectations:

*There are two versions of this clause. 

[version 1] I’d like you to be working 12-20 hours a week. If you have a crazy week at school and need to make it 12, that is fine with me (school comes first!). If you are cranking, loving a project and feeling tons of ownership of it - work more than 20. Just let me know if you anticipate times where you may be unavailable.

[version 2] You are committing to ## hours per week, from 9 to 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursday. I understand that last minute things may happen, so if you're going to be late or miss a day a work, please let us know as far in advance as possible.

I also ask that you provide us with details of your vacation weeks and time off. I also know that sometimes school gets tough and deadlines are due. Practice smart planning, if you see that your class syllabus gets particularly hairy (everyone had hell weeks in college), give us a heads up and remind me when it is getting closer. This is just smart planning and will serve you well in the future!

Personal responsibility is an important quality for employees. While there are the occasional exceptions, I will do my best to give you assignments with a reasonable amount of time to complete them. But giving you that kind of freedom, I expect you to get your work done, and practice good communication when it comes to managing your deadlines. This isn’t a reason to put things off. Instead, make it a challenge to surprise me! Turn things around quickly and efficiently – you will learn good habits that will make you indispensible to future employers.

The more work you do, the more experience you’re going to get, and the more I am going to be able to teach you. So let’s work hard together and have fun!

Confidentiality:
I cannot overstate the importance of confidentiality. The documents you're receiving, my methods, my original materials, and my clients’ information are strictly confidential. My thinking is how I make money. So sharing documents, strategy, or any other information you learn here is prohibited and use of it outside my business amounts to stealing.

While what you learn you will be able to apply to future jobs, any written material cannot be shared with out explicit approval from me either verbally or written.

*If an intern is managing a store or property, this is a great place to mention policies on theft, injury, damage, etc. In this case you may want to include a header like "safety."

Summary:

There is a reason I asked you to join my team. I see tons of potential and am excited to see what you will contribute. I'm thrilled to have you onboard!


Do you have experience managing an intern? What challenges came up and how did you solve them?