Student Participation in Your School Store

Encourage student participation through internships.

Running a school store is like running any other business, and one aspect to running a business is axiomatic: Good help is hard to find! One potential solution to this dilemma that is a win for you as the store operator, and a win for your student help, is to offer formalized internships.

Many students demonstrate an interest and an aptitude for business early on and may already be planning their college and career future around the idea of entering business as a profession. An internship can provide valuable experience while building that all-important work ethic. You can help lay the foundation for these future business leaders.

In order to be successful, an internship should be formalized, structured, and rewarding. It isn’t enough to just invite students to help and call it an internship. You need to create a process that includes guidelines, incentives, and rewards. Start with the following and then integrate your own ideas:

Draw up a formal internship agreement. This would outline the responsibilities of both you as the mentor and the student as the intern. Job responsibilities, number of hours involved, rewards offered, etc.

Develop a formal job performance / evaluation process. Regular evaluations help your interns improve, and all of us appreciate regular input. This will also help prepare them for the future, as it is a common practice in the working world. Be mindful, though, that these are young people so your approach should be more delicate than it might be with an experienced working adult.

Write an operating manual for your store; your “policies and procedures”, so your students have a guideline to turn to. You may even ask your interns to participate in the development of the document. It will give them a sense of ownership in the process.

Approach your school administrators with the idea that your internship be incorporated in some way in to the curriculum, perhaps as an elective or as extra credit for an existing business class. This provides an incentive for students to participate. You can further encourage students by noting the value of this type of activity at college application time.

Some caveats:

Be sure to check your local labor laws. There are restrictions in place regarding the number of hours and the times of day a student can work. These vary by state, so look in to yours.

Get parental permission. While the vast majority of parents will be glad for their child to acquire this valuable experience, this is still a necessary step. Be sure that this permission agreement outlines what your intern will be doing so there is no future misunderstanding.

There are likely many other ideas that you can incorporate in to your specific program, so treat your internship as an evolving process.

Student Supply is your school fundraising partner!

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