Just-in-time help. You don't need space for an intern at your office. Many are interested in just working a meeting or event. For the cost of meals and a hotel room, and sometimes an airline ticket or a stipend, you can bring in extra staffing power during your peak period.

Intern (noun) 1. an advanced student or graduate, usually in a professional field, gaining supervised practical experience.

What can they do? Just about anything. Interns can stuff welcome bags, draft letters or promotional copy, liaison with presenters, answer the phone, collect evaluation forms and compile results, check room setups, input data on the computer, mail out conference information, or whatever duties match your needs and their skills.

More than an intern. If you need extra hands at your meeting but aren't willing to do the training and supervision that an intern requires, meeting planning temp agencies can provide experienced planners for short-term projects. You'll pay more than you would for an intern, but not nearly what you would for a new staffer. PMPN in Durham, N.C. (www.pmpn.com) and The Meetingtemp Job Network, a division of The Meeting Candidate Network, New York (www.meetingjobs.com) are among the companies that place skilled meeting temps.

School days. College and graduate school students in meeting and convention programs typically must fulfill internship requirements. If you could use an intern, find out if universities in your area offer meeting certificate programs, but don't discount schools that are farther afield. For example, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., have respected meeting management programs with many students eager to fulfill their practicum hours.

No free lunch. Your responsibility as an employer is to provide orientation and training for the tasks the intern will perform, as well as supervision. You also will be expected to provide feedback to the intern as well as to the school that is offering the internship. Depending on the intern's commitment and skills, a stipend can build loyalty.

Grunt work, plus. Interns expect a certain amount of filing, typing, and other administrative duties, but be sure that at least some of the work exposes the student to “real-life” meeting planning. If the intern is especially interested in AV production, for example, allow her to spend some time with your tech team.

Sources: Merriam-Webster Online, www.m-w.com; www.nightcats.com

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