For most of you reading this, it might seem like spring is eons away. I know as I sit here writing this, it’s a balmy 10°F in metro Detroit, so it might be hard to see the forest through the trees, but before you know it, birds will be chirping, flowers will be blooming, and people will be firing up their air conditioners for the first time in months.

That means it’s time to really start thinking about the upcoming spring and summer seasons and what it could mean for your business. While the seasons might be shifting and you’re looking at the short-term future, considering the company’s long-term future might not be such a bad idea, either.

Future Leaders of the World

Have you ever considered welcoming a young learner into your company through a student intern program? Offering an internship is a great way to find new talent who may be interested in the industry. With a few notches in my intern belt, I know firsthand these positions are great trial runs for both the employer and the intern. It’s a feeling-out process of sorts. As the employer, you’ll get an in-depth look at the prospect’s potential and personality, and, if you’re the intern, you get a close up of the company’s culture, which could help sway the direction of your budding career.

Hiring interns is great because most of them are willing to learn and work hard. After all, their future is on the line, and they’re looking to make a good impression that may land them a full-time paycheck.

I always hear people in this industry talking about how difficult it is to find good, young talent — and make no mistake, it is a constant challenge — but hiring interns, whether it’s just one or a few, offers your company an opportunity to impact the industry’s future. Even if an intern you bring on doesn’t land a full-time job, the experience you’ve given the individual is only going to help him or her when they do secure a full-time position in the industry. And that makes the industry, as a whole, better.

Not Just for Technicians

If you’re a commercial contracting company, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is a great place to start your intern search. At the association’s conference, MCAA 2014 (March 9-13 in Scottsdale, Ariz.), more than 120 students from MCAA chapters nationwide will be at the Annual Student Chapter Exhibit, looking to showcase their skills. Not only that, the MCAA encourages companies to hire interns with the Student Internship Grant, which helps cover $1,200 of an intern’s salary.

Ann Mattheis, director, career development, MCAA, said, based on the information she receives from MCAA members who hire interns, those interns are typically paid between $12-$15 per hour, while that goes up a few dollars per hour in bigger cities such as New York or Chicago.

That’s really a minimal investment. At the end of the day, doesn’t everybody just want a bright future? Whether it’s as an individual or as a company, it’s what we strive for.

And what’s one of the best things about internships? You can offer them in a whole variety of areas. While it’s very important to bring up technicians and people with technical HVAC knowledge, it’s just as important to be able to run the business side correctly. Bringing in interns to help in sales, accounting, at the front desk, or in information technology (IT) is a way you can help your company behind the scenes, making sure you have great talent everywhere.

As an intern, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, looking to impress people and make an impact, angling for that dangling carrot — the potential of a full-time position. I know many people who interned for a company and then went to work full-time for them. So, make no mistake about it — investing in interns is investing in your future.

Publication date: 2/24/2014

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