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Is Your Small Business Ready For an Intern?

Your small business is growing fast. In order to fulfill orders and keep things running smoothly, you need to work in the business, and it’s difficult to find time to step back and work on the business: building contacts, conducting market research, and managing your reputation online. You need all the help you can get. Still, interns seems like more trouble than they’re worth. Unless you have a human resources director to oversee and manage interns, you might believe that your business is too small to benefit from a student’s unpaid assistance.

But consider the value that an intern represents: more than free labor, an intern represents an opportunity to integrate  a fresh perspective and a different set of skills into your business. They bring energy and interest to old routines, and they give you an chance to research new programs and strategies such as social-media marketing. In the end, an intern is a responsibility. Even clever, motivated interns need some training, and you will need to draw up a specific plan for your intern to ensure that his or her time is put to a good use. But if properly managed and motivated an intern can add value to your business. If you feel that you are ready to take on an intern, here are a few tips on how to structure the internship to make it productive for your intern and yourself.

Know What You Want

Plan precisely what responsibilities your intern will have within the company. It is best to have a clear vision of why you are bringing an intern on board before you sit down for interviews. This will help you to monitor and evaluate your interns and it will keep you from unintentionally exploiting their labor. If you only need an extra hand to do unpleasant, menial tasks around the office, then ask yourself what you can offer an intern to make it worth his or her time to take the position. As long as you are honest and the intern understands both the job parameters and the benefits it is possible for everyone to have a positive experience.

If your company is looking to expand and you want to create a new position, then consider thinking of the internship as an extended interview and training program. Thinking ahead, you can groom interns for future positions while adding value to your company right now.

Try Something New

An internship is a great opportunity to experiment with implementing new ideas and programs. Maybe you’ve always wanted to develop a presence online through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but you haven’t had time to learn the ins and outs of each website. An intern can design your business’s social media profiles, update them, and brainstorm ways to keep current and potential clients interested. Additionally, an intern can conduct research to help you understand your market and your competition. An intern can do almost anything, so long as you train them and give them time and freedom to develop their skills.



Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.