Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Work placements (aka internships) — which tantalisingly dangle at your disposal a bright brain, youthful enthusiasm, and extra pair of hands to pitch in — present some genuine challenges to the small business owner.

You may find you are simply too busy to come up with tasks for your recruit. Of course, you have a thousand things on your plate, but none that you can hand off easily to someone who doesn’t know your business. You want them to be able to hit the ground running and not come back to you with a ton of questions.

The recruit meanwhile — armed with a headful of book knowledge and a sincere desire to “make it” in the work world — looks to you not just for menial tasks, but a real project that they can get their teeth into and brag about to future employers for years to come.

Here are three simple projects that will familiarise your recruit with your business, help you tackle some (much needed, I bet) spring cleaning, AND hopefully generate extra work.

1.  Let them be a goodwill ambassador for your company

When was the last time you spoke to your existing customers? Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, maintains that too frequently we ignore one of our most valuable assets and our best possible advertisers — our existing customers and clients.

Have your recruit start by making calls to the people on your mailing list you may not have reached out to for a while. They can check that the details in your database are up-to-date, and they can also ask for feedback on the service you have provided. Interacting with your existing clients will give the intern a great overview of your company, help you clean up your database, and build good will. A win-win.

2.  Britain’s got talent: your recruit can help you find it

Once the recruit knows your company better, it’s time for them to see if they can identify possible new customers or clients in your area. This can be the most basic of internet research, but a fresh pair of eyes might be just what you need to scour local listings for previously overlooked “talent” — businesses to target and potential new opportunities.

A simple spreadsheet with company name, contact email/phone number, website, and a brief explanation of why they would make a good target could keep you busy long after the recruit has gone back to university or found a permanent job elsewhere.

3.  Pimms anyone? Now it’s time to host a party!

There’s nothing like a balmy British summer to bring out the social butterfly — leave the social media in the office and plan socialising the old fashioned way. Whether it’s a tea party or a tipple, ask your recruit to plan an event that will allow you to introduce some of your happy existing clients (you will know who they are from the earlier phone calls) to some of your targets.

This should not be primarily about sales, but more of a thank you and a celebration. Best of all, your young recruit will feel a real sense of achievement at having put on a great event for your company.

How will you make the most of your work placement recruit?

With jobs for graduates and school leavers in increasingly short supply, and margins for small businesses feeling the squeeze, the prospect of hiring someone for work experience should be rewarding for both recruit and employer.

These tips will teach your Work Placement recruit the important lessons of nurturing existing clients, always seeking new business leads, and the invaluable resource of customer referral.

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