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Internships range from a wide variety of duties and responsibilities and are generally unpaid, part-time positions.
They’ve got the same big smiles, shining eyes, and passion to work and represent your service just as much as you do. Think of the intern as mini-me. Whether you’re an established start-up or a fledging small business on the rise, you will eventually begin to think about creating a team of professionals to work alongside you. While you will want to work with individuals that boast a healthy resume of experience, don’t discredit the intern. Today, they’re pulling their weight in unimaginable ways for small businesses and companies.
Interns, for those unfamiliar with what the term means, are generally college-age students who work an entry-level position within a company referred to as an internship for a specified amount of time. Internships range from a wide variety of duties and responsibilities and are generally unpaid, part-time positions.
For many students in college, internships are required for a specific major in order to graduate. Getting an internship within their area of study is also competitive, with several factors coming into play including balancing a work and study schedule, whether or not the internship offers a stipend, and the commute to and from the company office.
Don’t confuse internships with all work and no play though. These programs promise young adults the exposure to the real world that they crave. Interns work in an environment surrounded by like-minded individuals who remember when they were young and hungry for a chance to prove themselves.
And don’t confuse interns with the stereotype of schlepping Starbucks for their bosses and doing data-entry work anymore. In the article Fighting For the Job, John Katzman, founder of the Princeton Review, mentions that a smaller company will provide an intern with more interactive duties in order “to get the best thinking out of people who are every bit as smart as they’re going to be…[and] how to build a great company.”
Interns have the drive, the passion, the urge to make your company into something more and achieve everything you set out to accomplish. What’s stopping you from working with them? Here’s my 5 reasons why entrepreneurs should hire interns.
1) Experience Is The Teacher
This works two-fold for both entrepreneurs and interns. Students want to be able to fill up a resume with work experience before graduating. Entrepreneurs may be looking for someone to assist them in an area they aren’t familiar with like, social media networking, publicity, or legal matters. These areas may not offer enough of a work load just yet to qualify for full-time work, but just like every aspect in a small business, they are vital to being completed professionally and expanding brand awareness.
Busy entrepreneur + work that needs to be completed + fresh-faced intern who specializes in said work = internship. Basic math, really.
“The reality is, any real work experience in an office or in some real world situation is key,” Samer Hamadeh, co-author of The Princeton Review’s “The Internship Bible” says (Fighting for the Job). In our current economic state, just being able to work 10-15 hours a week managing Twitter and Facebook outlets may not seem like much, but to a college student it is the beginning of a resume enabling the journey to getting hired at a good job all the more easier.
2) Passions Speak Louder Than Words
An intern is actively pursuing you because they believe in the industry you’re working in, in the services that you provide. They want to help your company, not hinder it, and are willing to go the distance in extra research and attention spent on projects. In attention to that gleam in their eyes, they’ve got the care and concern for you in their hearts.
Once upon a not-so-distant past, interns really weren’t encouraged to pick up an internship position over the summer. Instead, they would pick up a summer job at a nearby coffee shop or retail store instead, don the name badge, and stand on their feet for 8 hours a day plugging a sale on swimming trunks.
Why did we encourage college students to go this route? For money. To sock away some summertime savings for the next semester of school. Internships are notoriously unpaid, after all.
Also it provided a bit of slack time for the brain. Internships require that you stay on top of your game and work at what you do whereas working at a sandwich shop just requires being handy with a cash register and understanding how many pieces of turkey go on a club sandwich.
In today’s current economy though, students are doing everything in their power to avoid making club sandwiches for the rest of their lives. Having the job experience is critical, but having it in an area that students naturally enjoy is even more critical. College students are constantly and consistently asked, “Where do you work?” Being able to respond with pride and a smile on your face is a way of showing that you’re putting your passions into place. And for new entrepreneurs, to have interns telling everyone that they love working with you and the company only grows the positive recognition of your name brand further.
3) Don’t Sweat Being a Brand Name
New entrepreneurs aren’t just at the level of being the Leo Burnett’s or NBC’s of the world just yet. They don’t have unlimited financial resources, worldwide locations, or a million Twitter fans. Does this matter to the intern? Nope.
Millennial interns today are “…both more more public service-minded and more experiential,” Jill Rockwell, assistant dean of student services at the Batten School said. “[They’re] more driven by having meaningful tactile experiences and in making [and seeing] the difference themselves.”
By being able to make a difference and connect with a small business in a meaningful way, interns provide invaluable resources to entrepreneurs. They can begin growing word of mouth, publicity for the new company. And since many interns are young, hip, and tech savvy, the expertise they provide can go extraordinarily beyond what any business ever saw themselves. They may go in a direction they wouldn’t have known about until hiring the intern, and it might just be the nudge in the right direction they always needed.
4) A Lot to Offer in a Short Amount of Time
It has been said that throughout life we go through 7-10 different career changes, a far cry from past generations who were content to stick to one employer alone throughout their adult career. Millennials like options. They like to try a bunch of new areas to see what they’re good at and where their strengths lie. They transition out of jobs too if it isn’t a good fit and hold to the optimism that even though that position didn’t work out, there’s a different place to keep going to that will better appreciate their skill sets and open more doors to them.
Interning with a small business helps to save time in their career search. Maybe they love working with you. Great! Now interns have a better idea of the field they’d like to pursue after graduation. Maybe they don’t love working with you. Don’t take it personally. The position was only 3 months long anyway.
Entrepreneurs should lay out a set time of how long they would like to work with interns, be it a semester or even freelance work. They should also keep in mind the possibility of extended internships. These prove to be invaluable to interns who graduate and don’t receive a job offer right away. By continuing their internship, they are able to keep their resumes free of “unemployment holes” and prove that they are even more dedicated to working with the company.
5) Running with Responsiblity
Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be worried about working with “green” junior and senior college students because at this point, they’ve studied most of the courses in their field and are ready to be given a chance to put their knowledge into action. Hands-on work is what they’re excited for, so give concise assignments and follow-up on the results with an intern. Hold a weekly meeting to discuss any future insights or thoughts that you may have. Keeping communication lines clear and open will go a long way in communicating with interns, customers, and later on down the line, a full team of employees for your business.
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