Why Interns are a Win-Win

April 10, 2013

When I was in college I interned at a PR/Advertising agency who focused on the hospitality market. I worked on radio promotions and FAM tours.  This experience helped me to get my first real job as I wouldn’t have had any experience without it. I worked 15 hours a week for a full semester without compensation. My reward was the education that I gained.  The fact that I know work in this industry and attend FAM tours as a speaker and consultant in purely coincidental….or is it?

In my professional life, I have hired interns and they have been life savers.  Sure, I have had a few who were sub-par. However, I have had three who were rock stars and made my life so much easier.  Theresa worked for me back in the accounting firm days. She lived and breathed database cleanup, but also was my right-hand at a major conference that we produced.  She graduated and went on to be a successful marketer. John was quiet, finance type who rocked all things website.  I found them both through the Rutgers career center and was able to provide them with a job and me with support at a low cost.

I met Stacy when she was working at my gym of all places.  She mentioned being interested in events and the conversation went from there to helping Stacey with her career path to having her work for Seven Degrees.  We have been working together for over a year and she helps with CRM management, admin tasks and even client social media work. 

Last week Midori mentioned that she had a student interested in working with her, but didn’t have a plan. She sais she thought the student wanted to learn the industry and not necessarily be an “assistant.”  Here is what I suggested based on my experience with interns.

  1. There is always work that has to be done that is not fun. It’s OK to show interns the real world and have them help. If they aren’t doing it, that means you are. What you are showing them is real business. Yep, it’s not all glamorous.
  2. Explain the why.  The answer is not “because I said so.” With an intern, even if the work that they are doing is not fun, explain to them the business reason behind the task.  Putting the pieces together helps them see the big picture and learn.
  3. Have them do research. You both learn by what they discover.
  4. Take them into the real world. Have them join you at networking events or certain client meetings.
  5. Introduce them to colleagues who might be able to share a lesson or two with them. 
  6. Help them in their search for full-time employment. If you can hire them, great. However, many times you can’t, but you know someone who could use an entry-level person with experience. After all, you trained them, they should be exemplary employees.
  7. As interns prove to be responsible, hard-working and creative, give them projects where they will learn and where you will benefit from their work.

I’ve been very fortunate to have met some wonderful professionals by hiring them as interns. So if you are struggling with getting things done and you have something to teach someone, look at interns as an option.

Oh, and Stacy turned the big 2-1 this week. Feel free to wish her a happy, happy in the comments.