How to Manage Interns Working for Your Small Business or Startup

If you’ve watched some of my old videos
you know that I am a huge supporter of utilizing interns as a way to keep costs down while
getting great work. But interns – especially the free ones, which I primarily advocate
the use of – can be tough and time consuming to manage if you don’t create an internship
program that meets everyone’s needs. So, here are my tips for utilizing interns without
wanting to pull your hair out: #1: Be very clear in the intern posting about
what the expectations and duties are. It’s hard enough to find good employees and interns
are even harder, so make sure that you are extremely clear in your job posting about
what you expect the intern to already know before joining your team, what they’ll be
expected to do while working for you, and what you expect them to be able to learn throughout
the process. If you say you want someone with social media experience then anyone with a
personal Facebook page is qualified. If you want someone that has experience managing
multiple company social media profiles at once and generating unique content relevant
to your industry, say that. #2: Have a formal onboarding process and weekly
check-ins: Even if you’re a small company without much formality in anything, you need
to have a formal onboarding process and formal check-ins with your interns. They’re not
full-fledged employees, they’re not fully in the working world yet, and they’re there
to learn as much as you have them there to help, so you MUST MUST MUST give them adequate
direction or they won’t be sure what needs to get done when. I suggest creating some
sort of reporting form so they can have a clear list of responsibilities that they must
complete each week and you can go over their progress with them in your weekly meetings. #3: Make sure their responsibilities include
more than busy work: If you’re just using your intern to file papers you’re wasting
your time and theirs and you may be running afoul of labor laws because unpaid interns
need to be LEARNING while working for you and can’t just be made to do a job that
you should actually be paying someone to do. Interns are a goldmine, but only if you allow
them to be. Give them enough autonomy and responsibility that they can shine. #4: Remember to give appropriate praise and
criticism: Depending on your personality, it can be tough to remember to say thank,
great job, or that needs work to your interns. Some of us will forget that these interns
need to feel appreciated and be given positive reinforcement to know they’re doing a good
job and keep up the good work. Others of us will have a tough time criticizing young people,
especially if we’re not paying them. Well, all of us need to get over it. It doesn’t
do you or an intern any good if they’re not given honest feedback – both good and
bad. Just be sure to provide such feedback in a constructive manner. If you follow these tips you’ll be able
to get an incredible return on your investment of time managing your interns because they
can provide real value to companies and managers that give them the tools to contribute.

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2 thoughts on “How to Manage Interns Working for Your Small Business or Startup

  1. Very well-balanced approach to managing interns – especially the unpaid variety – because the slow economic recovery is clearly limiting opportunities for employees in the early stages of their careers.

    By tying intern responsibilities and skills into the company, it gives a higher chance of success to the internship working out for both the employer and the employee.

  2. Hi Cate,
    Thanks for the video! I am a photographer and starting with an intern this week for the first time.
    On the other side you look like a beautiful woman, pleasing to look while speak and have a great voice. An unrequested advice is to buy an LED light so your videos get a better look and your face shines. I liked the video but i noticed it so just wanted to let you know. I can remotely help you with that if you would like.

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