We’ve probably all had experience with interning at one point or another in our lives. If you were lucky, this phase of your career didn’t last long. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that you benefited in some way from the experience, and a lot of people could attribute their current success due to their time spent in the aforementioned position.
Although you may know the value that internships had on your career, it may be hard to translate that into whether your business would benefit from hiring interns. What is there to gain? What can they offer? Are they worth investing time into? Etc. etc. etc. These are all fair questions to ask. Especially if you’re a small start-up, the idea of hiring interns can seem daunting, yet undoubtedly necessary. The backlog of data, fine tuning of projects and general administrative tasks may be getting the best of you, and hiring an intern is becoming increasingly tempting. It would be great to have one, two, or even a small team of young job-seekers to even out the workload and add some life back into the company.
On the other hand, even established businesses, whether they be small or large, can benefit from hiring interns. Their added innovation and willingness to complete delegated tasks means that you have more time to focus on the big picture.
So far, an addition of interns to your company is sounding quite promising! However, be wary of potential draw backs. As they say, there’s always a catch, and this is no different.
Listed below are the potential pros and cons of hiring interns:
- They are refreshed and willing to learn
Interns are likely to be university students, either currently trying to advance their degree, or recent graduates looking to get their foot into the door career wise. They are adept and energetic, and because of that they are eager and willing to learn. They are willing to soak up any information or experience you can give them, so use that to your advantage. They are full of energy and due to the fact that for many of them, the internship won’t be full time work, they aren’t as likely to become bogged down. They come in refreshed, do their job and head off.
- They act as an additional pair of eyes
Interns, along with any new members to your team, approach pre-existing problems within the company with a sense of naivety. This is a great asset. Because of this fact, they attack the problem at angles you may not have thought of before, and can be a great sounding board for your own thoughts on solving problems. Young people tend to be more willing to be creative, and their lack of knowledge regarding how ‘things should be done,’ make it so that they are much less likely to accept the ‘that’s how we’ve always done things’ excuse when problem solving.
- They are a great way to seek out hardworking full-time employees
Due to the nature of interning, both you and the individual(s) you mentor will be going through various processes of trial and error. Throughout your time with interns, you may find yourself with the desire to keep some of them on as full-time employees. It’s not just about finding new employees, but about enabling you to hire ones you know suit your company culture and have the added bonus of experience within the company itself. You are able to view someone’s potential in a tangible setting before making the decision to make them a permanent addition to the team.
- They may be more expensive than you think
If you’re unable, or simply unwilling to provide your interns with a salary, it may be worth checking relevant laws first. In many cases, it may be that what you’d be asking of your potential interns, actually requires them by law to be treated as paid employees. Make sure you are taking the extra step and treating your potential interns well. What may save you a few dollars now may cost you a lot more down the line if you’re not careful.
- They need attention
Don’t hire interns if you aren’t willing to train them or are too busy to, and don’t hire them as simply a means to get extra help. Sure, that can be part of the reason, but if you are only hiring them to reduce the workload then you may want to rethink if you’d even benefit from having them around. Interns can definitely be a huge help; however, they are ultimately going to become more of a detriment if they are left with no real work to do or even basic guidance.
Your interns whether they be as part of a running program in your company or as a one-off thing, must be provided with some form of structure. Your reason for wanting to hire interns – such as reducing overall workload – may not seem like it warrants this kind of attention, but it does. You must aim to provide your interns with useful skills, training and proper job experience.
If you are simply looking for someone to make a dent in that stack of paperwork or clean up some backlogged data, you’re much better off hiring someone on a part time or casual basis, to do that job and that job alone. The nature of internships and the way they relate to you as a business owner, means that you are responsible for providing a learning environment and grooming these individuals. If that’s not something you’re willing to do then perhaps you wouldn’t benefit from having interns, no matter how much work they could relieve you of.