Hiring an intern may be the last thing on your mind as anxieties run high in a world plummeting into a pandemic induced recession. Now can’t possibly be the time to bring on someone new, right?
We’d like to challenge that idea. Now is exactly the right time to hire an intern (and we’re not just saying that because the writer of this blog is in fact, an intern).
With thousands of current students–and an entire graduating class of 2020 looking for work–you don’t want to miss out on an abundance of fresh talent looking for a challenge.
Our team is well versed in the world of internships. We’d like to share some insights on the importance of hiring an intern, how to maximize the benefits for both your company, and give your interns an amazing learning experience.
You’ll get a fresh pair of eyes on your organization’s biggest challenges
Interns bring more than just an extra set of hands to grab coffee with (please don’t make your poor interns do this, we’re begging).
According to a recent NACE survey, only 8% of intern tasks involved clerical or non-essential work responsibilities. The other 92% of work was spent on higher-level tasks like data analysis, problem-solving, and logistics.
A quality intern can make real contributions to productivity. They help your full-time staff avoid becoming overburdened by side projects which free them up to accomplish more tasks that require high-level expertise. Include interns in brainstorming sessions to maximize this benefit.
You’ll help close the soft skills gap
A common problem companies face with new hires with limited experience is the lack of essential skills like professionalism, leadership, and effective communication. “No matter how much you do in school, nothing prepares you for the actual workplace,” said Marcel Rusu, a developer here at BitBakery. “During the first few weeks at my first co-op, I had no idea what I was doing – it was great to get that out of the way early.”
An internship allows students to gain a unique depth of knowledge beyond the lecture hall. “When all you get is theoretical concepts in the classroom, my co-ops were very helpful to give me an idea of what really happens in the world beyond the textbook,” said Bradley Burrows, one of our senior developers. Help a student close the gap with real-world experience in an internship and at the same time develop future grads to be ready to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce.
You may uncover hidden talent and find potential future employees
Supporting interns is a year-round recruiting tool that creates an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees. According to the NACE, interns who transition into full-time employees are far more likely to stick with a company than those hired traditionally. Edson Mesquita, one of our developers can attest to this after spending over five years at a past employer in Brazil following graduation. “They wanted to teach me because they knew that in the future, I could be on their teams. Therefore, I should be trained well,” he said.
You’ll build your employer brand
Hiring an intern helps spread the word about your company–whether you mean to or not. If you’re a great mentor and offer a great experience, chances are your interns will talk about it with their friends and family. It's essentially advertising for your organization for free!
On the other hand, it’s not always personal. Internships provide an opportunity to explore what kind of work and environment is a good fit for your intern. “Co-op helped me determine what I love to do,” said Diana Valdes, Product Manager and Software QA Engineer here at BitBakery. “I was able to explore and even take initiatives outside my given roles, helping me realize what kind of work I wanted to do, and in what kind of environment.”
Just like with any new role, don’t rush into hiring an intern for the wrong reasons. Don’t hire an intern if:
You want “cheap labour”
It’s true that interns are typically less expensive to hire than a full-time employee, and this can be a great benefit. “Hire an intern, they’ll be crazy and will do everything for you!” said Rusu, one of our developers.
Be careful though, your resources can just as easily be wasted if you don’t do any planning, which could hurt your company in the long run. Just as easy as you can build a great employer brand with a good internship program, you can lose it with a bad one.
Interns need your attention too
Don’t bring on interns if you can’t be a good supervisor. “At first it seems like teaching someone will demand too much from your team. It might even seem like it’s taking away from your productivity, said Mesquita. “However, if you do it right, it will pay back dozens of times over.” Unless you can spread your time to prioritize training and mentorship, it won’t be a beneficial experience for either party.
You don't have any clear goals in mind for your intern
Before you hire an intern, make sure you consider what goals you’d like them to reach by the end of their period–even if it’s difficult. “If you’re not prepared to give your intern both the independence to grow, and meaningful guidance to make sure they’re not going off the rails, you shouldn’t hire an intern.” said Pablo Morales, another one of our developers here at BitBakery.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your expectations are in line before hiring an intern. “When hiring, remember that It’s not all about grades and experience, it’s about enthusiasm. That’ll go much further than hiring someone just based on paper,” said Valdes.
Go For It
So, if you’ve got the need, the time, and the resources, “go for it!” said Ryan Sweny, our Director of Application and Development. In terms of both today's workload and tomorrow's workforce, starting an internship program is an excellent way to facilitate success at your company.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash