by Rajeeb Dey
Updated: Jul 23, 2014 Published: Jul 23, 2014
With the summer upon us businesses up and down the country are opening their doors to interns but how do you ensure it’s a win-win experience and a meaningful opportunity for the intern to develop whilst contributing to your company?
Taking on an intern is often synonymous with having an extra pair of hands to make the tea or do the photocopying but if that’s all you’re asking your interns to do then you’re missing a trick.
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Structured correctly internships can help accelerate your business in numerous ways: giving you a head start in recruiting fresh talent; opportunity to gain insight into technology or trends around the “Gen Y” market that your existing workforce may not have as well as benefiting from a fresh pair of eyes and some ‘outsider’ feedback.
Below, are some additional benefits of taking on an intern that will hopefully help you make your mind up about whether taking on an intern is right for you:
Implement ideas produced by creative ‘hacks’
If you’re a start-up, or an organisation with a lot of creative potential, you can hire an intern to accomplish mini-projects that come up during your creative ‘hacks’. Often, businesses suffer from the lack of time or resource to implement the creative ideas for improvements or side-projects that their permanent employees come up with.
Hiring an intern can be a way of addressing this constraint. The intern could develop project management skills as a result, and the business would be able to add some mini-projects to its portfolio.
Produce brand advocates
Employers should not underestimate the power of networking. News spread across networks and so does reputation.
Taking on an intern can be a useful PR exercise for your business. Happy interns whose time with you was well-structured, valuable and fun will tell their friends about you and may share their internship experiences on social media as well.
The more interest you generate this way, the more likely you will be to get good quality interns in the future. This is particularly relevant in the world of start-ups where any exposure of what your business is doing well can help you get the best talent and grow your company.
Create development opportunities for your existing staff
Hiring an intern can provide valuable development opportunities for your existing staff who are keen to get some coaching and mentoring experience. Get them to design and structure the internship programme and take ownership of the young person’s development during their internship.
You can treat this as a mock line management exercise. It can be a great way for you to discover who on your team has the skills and aptitudes to take on a management role in the future. There will also be some positive morale implications for the member of staff.
Whatever the reason you decide to take on an intern, make sure you structure their internship so that both you and they can make the most of it.
Rajeeb Dey is the founder and CEO of Enternships, a portal that connects students and graduates to internships and graduate job in over 6,000 start-ups, small and growing businesses. He was the youngest recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2013.