5 Ways to Make the Best Use of Interns

For young companies, and established ones as well, interns are a goldmine. They are young, fresh, savvy and willing to learn everything they can about your industry and their role. With their help you can reach different markets and lighten your load significantly. When managed correctly, an intern can serve as a mutually beneficial relationship for your company. Of course, having an intern comes with a certain level of responsibility as well. An intern is not a desk monkey simply there to do the dirty work. They’re taking this internship to learn more and to gain some experience in the industry they are interested in. There’s a good way to handle interns and a bad way. So let’s take a look at six ways to make the best use of interns.

Learning Curve
In order to have an effective internship at your company, there needs to be something the intern gains from you as well. If you just have your interns filing papers, making copies and simply updating your social media under the title “marketing intern”, what really are they learning? A big fat nothing! In this kind of relationship you’re reaping all of the benefits. This all spells bad internship and will likely add a bad rep to your company name- trust me, word gets around. In order to avoid that altogether, before you hire an intern you should sit down and brainstorm all of the things you hope this intern will learn from the internship. If it’s how to fax an invoice and how to use the copy machine, you might want to think again. If it’s gaining valuable experience in learning SEO techniques, navigating around WordPress or other things of that nature, you’re on the right track.

Include Them in Meetings
Involving your intern in weekly meetings, or whenever you choose to have them, allows them to gain a ton of experience in the field. They can see how ideas are generated, how goals are set/tracked, how management interacts with employees and much more. To count them out simply because they are an intern is doing a disservice not only to them but to you as well. Interns are full of fresh ideas and including them in the meetings might help to foster those ideas and work to get them out. Not taking advantage of their perspective and opinion, even if it’s just listening to them, is a disadvantage to you.

Hire Them Like an Employee
When you are ready to bring on an intern, or many, you should hire them as you would an employee. Not only does this give them experience in the hiring process, but it also helps you choose the best candidate for what you need. You will obviously have to alter the interview process a bit, seeing as though they likely won’t have much experience, but it will help you and your team decide who will be the best fit. On top of that, interviewing has become a fine art. The more exposure, the better. So to gain this experience is a great advantage to an intern- or a hopeful intern.

Stay Away From Free Labor
In other words, pay your interns. There have been so many cases of intern abuse where a company hired an intern to do a huge job and paid them nothing simply because it was cheap. This is taking advantage of internships, and interns, and giving the whole experience a bad name. If you can’t pay them, then you should only be hiring students that can earn college credit for their time and work. If your intern is doing a ton of work and you aren’t paying them a thing- and they aren’t gaining credit- then are you just using them for free labor? This is wrong and they will pick up on it in no time. Plus, a worker being compensated for their work is more apt to put more effort and care into their job. They will work harder and care more which, in turn, is great for you.

Opportunity of Employment
Depending on the nature of the job, offering your interns the possibility of staying on full-time is extremely advantageous for both parties. For the intern, they are motivated to work hard and to really prove themselves if they know they may be asked to stay on as an employee when their internship is up. In this case, you get the most out of your intern: great ideas, fresh perspectives and a dedicated worker. Plus, if you know you need to eventually turn this internship into an actual position, then you already have someone that is qualified to do the job and knows their way around the company. They are already familiar with what you have going on and you don’t have to start fresh. This, of course, only applies to the intern that succeeded in their role and did a great job, but for a qualified worker that’s a risk you should be willing to take. If it doesn’t work out, both parties likely learned something from the experience- if only knowing what they do not want.

So you see, making the best use of interns isn’t a difficult or taxing job. It just takes a certain amount of care and responsibility. If you want to hire an intern to simply do your dirty work, go ahead. But you won’t be taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge and perspective that young interns and workers can bring to the table. In the end, it’s really your loss.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Brain.LAFilm