The Dos and Don'ts of Finding and Hiring an Intern for Your Business
Hiring interns can be a great way to get new talent into your business, as long as you do it right. The most important thing is to have a very clear idea of what you need from an intern and what their tasks will entail before hiring them. This can help prevent spending time on people who don't actually have the skills or abilities necessary for the job in question.
Do make the most of technology to find interns with the skills you need
The first step in finding and hiring the right interns for your business is to use technology. If you're looking for someone with skills in social media marketing, search for them on LinkedIn or Facebook and reach out. If you're looking for someone who has experience working at startups, check out their profiles on Wellfound.
After you've found someone who seems like they could be a good fit, ask them if they'd be interested in an internship. If so, set up an interview to get to know each other better and see if there's a good match for the position.
If you're still having trouble finding what you need, try leveraging Riipen's work-based learning platform to find student talent via internships and in-class projects. The platform is built to connect employers with student talent in all stages of their career development, which means no more searching through university job boards!
“The Riipen marketplace is an easy-to-use platform and offers great resources for companies to find great matches with learners throughout North America,” shared Laurie O'Hara, CEO of Olita, an innovative and healthy sun care product company based in San Rafael, California. The company joined the platform in 2020 and has since collaborated with student talent from a variety of colleges and universities on both in-class and internship projects.
Do be clear on exactly what you need the intern to accomplish.
Before you can find the right intern for your business, you need to know what it is that you want them to accomplish. This may seem obvious, but many companies fail at this step and end up with an intern who isn't a fit or doesn't have the skills required for their role.
To ensure that this doesn't happen in your company, define your opportunities before starting on a solution. You don't want an intern who has no chance of helping out with things like social media marketing or event planning because they aren't good at either one yet. Make sure that the tasks you give them are in line with their abilities to avoid wasted time and effort from both parties involved. It's not productive or efficient to have someone who doesn’t know much about content marketing trying to write blog posts for six months straight without ever improving. You are better off hiring interns who have experience in those areas instead; not only will the job get done faster but you will also save money since they won't require as much training time.
Do be prepared to train and mentor your intern.
Mentoring is a two-way process. You will learn from them as will they, from you. It's important to remember that interns are there to learn and grow, not just take up space or try to make it look like you hired people when really you didn't.
Mentoring should be ongoing, not just for the duration of an internship. Make sure you're able to check in with your interns throughout the semester and provide guidance as needed. This will help them feel supported and valued, which is especially important for first-time interns who may not have much experience in their field yet.
It's important to have clear goals for your mentorship program so that both you and your intern can benefit from it in the long term. You can create a handbook for the interns that outlines your expectations and the program's goals. This way, everyone will be on the same page about what's expected of them and how they can best benefit from the mentorship experience. You should also make sure that your company has policies in place regarding internships so that all of your employees know what's expected of them.
A good mentor will help an intern learn about their workplace and how they fit into it (and vice versa). The mentor should be able to help the intern navigate their first few months on the job, which is often overwhelming. You can also help an intern understand the culture of your company, so that they don't feel like a fish out of water. Mentors should be available to answer questions about the industry and offer advice for navigating workplace challenges.
Don't waste time considering someone who is clearly not a good fit for your company culture.
As a business owner, you know that culture is important. You want to create a positive office environment that makes your employees feel valued and appreciated. But what about interns? How can you make sure they feel like they're part of the team?
One way is to make sure that the intern you hire fits into your company culture--and if they don't, don't waste time considering them further! For example: If one of your core values is making customer satisfaction a top priority at all times and someone who applies for an internship with no previous experience or has bad reviews from past employers on their resume, that person probably won't be a good fit for your organization's mission statement.
Don't hire interns just because you like them as a person; make sure they are qualified and will be able to complete the tasks you have in mind.
The worst thing you can do is hire an intern just because you like working with them as a person. They should be qualified and able to complete the tasks you have in mind for them. If you do hire someone who doesn't fit in with your organization's mission statement, then be prepared for the consequences. In most cases, this means that the person won't last for very long and will either leave or be let go. Either way, it's not a good use of anyone's time or resources.
An intern should also be someone who is eager to learn and has career goals aligned with what your business needs at this moment in time. If they're not interested in learning anything new, it will show during their internship–and that's not good. If your intern is someone who wants to learn more about the industry and how it works, then you will be able to get more out of them than if you were to hire someone with similar experience levels. The same goes for interns who have career goals that align with what your business needs at this moment in time.
Don't avoid hiring interns just because they're young and inexperienced.
If you're on the fence about hiring an intern, don't be. They can be a great asset for your business and here's why:
You can learn from them. If you have never had experience working with young people before or have even been in their shoes, then this is a great opportunity to learn something new. You will be able to see things from a different perspective. This can only help your business grow and expand as you will be able to gain insight into a whole new generation of people and their thought processes. You can teach them a lot about your business, which will benefit them as well as you.
They will do things that you don't have time for such as social media posts or marketing campaigns. Their fresh perspective and energy can help you get things done in a way that you might not have thought of before. They can also help you reach new audiences and markets as they are the future of your business.
You can also task them with projects that are too difficult or time-consuming for you but not so much that they will be frustrated by them (e.g., writing emails). You can also get them to do research for you. If you have a big project coming up or need a new idea, ask your intern to help out with some research. This will free up your time so that you can focus on more important things like strategic planning and client meetings.
We hope this article has given you some insight into the process of hiring interns for your business. There may be some elements of it you find challenging, but with preparation and knowledge of what to expect and what to look for, that feeling should soon pass. The most important thing when building a team is to choose members who will be able—and excited—to get results.
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About the author:
Jennifer Lussier is a bilingual Content Marketing Specialist based in Montreal, QC. With a multidisciplinary background and a desire to accomplish more for the betterment of society, she joined Riipen in 2019 as an Academic Account Manager and has since migrated to the marketing team as it is more closely aligned with her interests and expertise.