As you may know I am a big fan of outsourcing, but when I’m asked about it, typically people want to know about one thing – interns. The idea of hiring interns is appealing, but the practically of finding good ones and deciding how best to use them can be tricky.
I’ve had a history of success with hiring interns to help me at ListProducer.com, while some of that comes down to luck, there are ways to increase your chances of creating a successful internship for both the employer and the intern.
Where to find them
June is graduation season, which means there plenty of excited fresh graduates out there who are looking to get started on their careers. So where’s the best place to find them? Big websites like Indeed or SimplyHired seem like a good place to start, but there’s so many postings it’s easy for yours to get lost among the many. So where should you put ads?
Your Own Website – When looking for an intern, you want to find someone who’s at least interested in your business or your field of expertise. So perhaps one of the best places to start would be to look at the people you already know. If you have a sizable following there’s bound to be a few graduates or people looking for extra work on that list!
LinkedIn – Many colleges encourage students to build LinkedIn profiles and try to connect with people who are in the industry they would like to work in. Even if, like me, you don’t connect with people you don’t know you can still publish job postings on to LinkedIn or in various alumni groups or other private boards. That way any student doing their research should be able to find it.
Internship.com – This is probably the biggest job site specifically dedicated to internships and is one of the first places many students will turn to. It does charge you to list internships but it has a decent search function giving students the chance to find something that fits their niche. This is good for you as it leads to more targeted applications instead of the blanket generalized ones you find on Indeed.com
Your Alma Mater – Many colleges have services that allow alumni to publish job and internship listings for current and graduating students. This is great if your business is still based in your college town. You know what kind of education level to expect from the graduates and what they might need more help based on your own experiences. Plus it feels good to give back.
So you’ve found yourself an intern, now what do you give them to do?
Scheduling – To keep everyone on track I have always had a weekly call with my interns. This way we can talk about upcoming events in the calendar and pitch blog post ideas. This ties in with an online calendar that we all have access to, so everyone knows what’s going on. During the week we stay in communication with emailing. With a newer intern I might have a larger role in checking over work or answering their questions, but as time goes on they tend to become quite self sufficient once you lay the groundwork.
Tasks – If you’ve never had an intern before you might be a little hesitant about giving away anything you think might be ‘too important’. Part of having an intern means putting a little faith in them though. Write a list of everything you do for your business and then grade how easy the tasks are. To first test the waters and help the intern ease into things you can give them the easier tasks and as they become more confident you can progress up the ladder. I would recommend keeping most of the harder tasks to yourself, but if you think the intern is up to it you can delegate as much as you like!
Make it worthwhile for them
The purpose of an internship is to help a person to gain experience in their chosen field while you lighten a bit of your workload. For this reason you should not set out with the idea of just pawning off every tasks you find boring, but at the same time not putting too much pressure on the intern to achieve things beyond their scope. I like to think about the kind of internship I would have wanted when I left college and try to recreate that.