Finding a good intern can be a wonderful thing for your business. When you get a truly great one, you may not want to let her or him go. You might decide to offer your intern a full-time paying position once the internship is complete. But sometimes interns have other things in mind.
Some interns enter an internship with the intention of starting their own business when they're done. Others get the idea along the way. This can be unsettling for some business owners, because they fear that the former intern will take away their clients or utilize their intellectual property. By preparing for this sort of situation, you can cover your bases while still encouraging the intern's success.
One thing that many businesses include in their internship agreements is a non-compete clause. These rarely state that the intern can't go into business for herself once the internship is over. Usually, they simply set forth provisions that prevent the intern from being in direct competition with the company for a certain amount of time after completion of the program.
You can set the terms of a non-compete clause as you like. You might choose to specify nothing more than a requirement that the intern does not serve any of your business' clients for a certain time period, or you might not allow her to target your business' geographical territory. You can also include verbiage pertaining to your intellectual property rights if you like. Your lawyer can help you draw up an agreement that suits your needs.
Working With Your Former Intern
If your intern decides to go into a business that is related to yours but not the same, you could try to work out a joint venture. This could help your intern get her business off the ground, and you can benefit by being exposed to her client base once she makes a name for herself. Such an arrangement could work out beautifully for both of you.
If your intern plans to do contract work, you might consider becoming a client if she offers services your business can use. If you really liked her work, this could be the next best thing to having her as an employee. She will appreciate your patronage, and will likely send referrals your way.
Internships do not last forever. Sometimes that is a good thing, but when you get a great intern, it can be hard to let go. But as long as you've taken the necessary precautions to protect your business, you should be happy for your intern when she decides to venture out on her own. She will probably tell others about her great experience with your company, and she might even send some business your way.