3 Benefits Of Hiring An Intern

Meet Gina, our first intern. With only two full-time employees on staff, it was a new experience to grow by 50% for six weeks! Although our business and family life was a bit chaotic during Gina’s time here this summer, we’re glad we had the opportunity to work with her. (We’d wanted to blog more about the experience, but client work and the arrival of a new baby kept us too busy.)

Unlike some companies, we didn’t make our intern a servant – at our beck-and-call to do the grunt work. Instead, we looked at the time as a way to invest in the future of a young professional. We couldn’t afford to pay her for all the hours she spent training or working on pro bono projects, but maybe we gave her something more valuable: we took the time to teach her what we knew about our industry, and capitalized on the skills she’d already developed as a communicator – at least that was our goal. (We also gave her a small stipend at the end.)

I’m sure the experience would have been a nightmare if Gina hadn’t been self-motivated and independent. But, we hired her knowing she’d fit with our small-company culture. Although having an intern can be work, having the “right” intern definitely makes a difference. Here are three surprise benefits we discovered after hiring Gina:

1. It made us see our business in a new light.

As consultants, we are often the ones giving the “outsider perspective.” With Gina, we had the fresh eyes of our intern to ask interesting questions, point us in new directions, and give us a new look at how we run things.

2. It forced us to organize the inside of our business.

As a (very) small business, it’s easy to just go about your work day after day, week after week, without giving any thought to official company process or policy. If, like us, you have only a handful of staff members, writing down “policy or process” can seem almost ludicrous! But, it’s so helpful. With Gina on board, we actually had to clarify the internal steps of getting a website completed, and we had to make some templates and forms for her to use with clients. Creating that internal process and library of templates was something I had wanted to do for two years…but never found the time to do it! Having her here finally made that task urgent and important.

3. It reminded us where we started.

Having an intern reminded me (Heidi) of my summer internship as a Public Relations Specialist. I remembered one of my first mentors, Wendy Hinrichs Sanders, and how she taught me things about running her own business. Some things were intentional. Others were just caught by example or through experience. It was good to think back and remember where I came from, and it feels good to know I finally have something to pass on to someone else. On those difficult days when I felt like I was taking two steps forward and three steps back, it was helpful to have this view of the past in relation to the future.

Although we have only listed three reasons, there are certainly many other good reasons for hiring an intern. Have you hired an intern? If not, what has been holding you back?

Comments

  1. Most people think internships are for big companies, and big companies only, but your story proves that everyone can benefit from internships. This internship sounds like it was a win-win for both of you and you both walked away from the experience for the better. Thanks for sharing!