To Hire, or Not To Hire: Interns

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It’s difficult to find a good employee – someone who will arrive on time, who will be dedicated to the task on hand, who won’t be a negative presence in the office. I wrote on the American Express Open Forum recently about an experience I had with an employee who was difficult, disrespectful and a negative influence on other, more dedicated staff members. In that blog, I highlighted the importance of an interview process that ensures that those types of individuals do not get hired.

There is another option for hiring supportive, intelligent, focused staff – try before you buy. Interns are, according to this Career Builder article, “employees who will work diligently for little or no money”. Interns are great because they are willing to work hard to gain experience that will impact their career path; internships build a strong portfolio for college students and are an important part of the college experience. I’ve incorporated several interns into my staff at Advantage over the last few years – one of our best interns landed a full time job here and is now our Marketing Coordinator and a star employee.

Here are some tips for making the most of your interns.

  • Provide them with a task that they can take ownership of. It will make their work more meaningful to them, and as a result, they will feel more connected and work harder on that task.
  • Consider putting your interns in charge of your company’s social media efforts (after careful training). Young people are in tune with social media and can give your brand a fresh voice.
  • Pay them. According to this article, interns who are paid report having a more positive experience (and will work harder – no such thing as a free lunch, right?) While unpaid internship programs are available, participants often feel exploited or undervalued.

So head down to your local universities and job boards and get ready to welcome someone who could be your company’s next shining star.