I've already made a couple of big, business decisions in 2018, and one of those was to hire interns. I'd know for a long time that I eventually wanted to bring in some spry, young talent, but a couple of things were holding me back.
First, I didn't feel "successful" enough to bring anyone else into the mix. I still don't know what "successful" enough meant/means to me, but I finally decided it was time to put that thought to bed. I had valuable lessons to teach someone, and it was time to start imparting.
Second, I knew it would take some legitimate time and effort to get things in place and delegate. Most of us feel like we move at the speed of light, and slowing down isn't an option. But, again, I needed to take a step back. The reality is that I needed extra help, and there were people available to assist. And once I got things up and running, the hard part was over. So, in the end, I got over myself and found two, fantastic interns.
So, here's the first of what I hope will be many blog posts from Megan Westbrook:
February is rapidly coming to a close (I know, I can’t believe it either) and amidst all of your New Year’s resolutions and scrambling during the busy, first few months of the year, you may have started feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. You know what might help you? Interns. And who better to talk about interns than an intern?
Internships not only benefit interns but also benefit you, a business owner or employee.
I know it may seem daunting at first, and you might feel like you’re only adding more to your plate by having to create an internship program. Yes, it does require some extra work to get a program up and running, find interns, and then get them acclimated. However, once it’s in place, you’re set, and you will continue to reap the benefits of having one or two extra sets of hands.
Interns take some of the weight off of you by helping to alleviate the day-to-day, back-end, or miscellaneous tasks that can take up too much of your time. Interns allow you to focus on the bigger picture and your larger projects, instead of freaking out over a mile-long to-do list. For example, those of you who hate technology, social media, and/or emailing (understandably so) should know that interns are more than likely to be knowledgeable and more interested in doing these kinds of tasks. Score!
Although many businesses are starting to pay interns now, there are still plenty of internships that are unpaid, and that’s totally ok! You can still secure interns without breaking the bank, so all you entrepreneurs with new businesses can breathe easy. I guarantee you that there are people out there who will still be willing to help you, so don’t let that hold you back from seeking them out! This is especially true when they believe in your cause.
Now you may wonder what an intern gets out of all of this. Why would someone be willing to help you and your business, possibly without pay? There are actually several reasons why someone may seek out an internship, and it really is a win-win situation.
The easiest and most common source of motivation is to fulfill a college requirement or credit.
Often times, colleges require students to have an internship during their last semester or last few semesters in order to complete their degree plan. I know it was required for me during my final semester as a journalism and public relations major, and I know it is considered a required credit for many areas of study.
Universities will usually assist in the internship process, either already having established relationships with businesses, or helping students find opportunities. And even if it isn’t required, internships are still highly recommended, as they allow students to apply what they learn in class to real life situations. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Internships allow the intern to gain experience in a certain field or explore new areas of interest.
Interning is a great way to find out what you like and what you don’t. If someone is, say, an early childhood education major and starts student teaching at a local school and realizes that they actually don’t have enough patience to deal with 15 elementary-school-aged children at once, they may want to reconsider their career path.
Personally, I got out of college and realized I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I got a regular 9 to 5 job and decided to explore my interests on the side by getting, you guessed it, internships! There’s so many career options to explore. Sometimes it’s best to shop around a bit before investing in one.
Jobs are not one-size-fits-all. Different people will be better equipped for different things. Internships are the perfect opportunity for people to explore new paths and figure out where they truly want to be and what they want to do. Some know for certain exactly what they want to do, and I’m jealous, but interning is still an amazing opportunity to gain valuable experience for future careers. More experience never hurt anybody, and especially not when it’s benefiting you!
Gaining an internship also allows interns to build and expand on their skill set and resume.
This is real life experience we’re talking about. While still important and valuable, lectures can only teach you so much, and let’s be honest, most college students are probably scrolling through Instagram or falling asleep during their lectures anyway. It’s getting out in the field and really working in it that is going to prepare them for a career and for life in general. You have the ability to provide someone with this experience.
Internships teach various skills, from time management to written and oral communication to maybe even operating Outlook at the most basic level. (I used this all through college and only realized once I got a job that there was a calendar function. How? I do not know.) “The more the merrier” applies well here. More internships means more skills means a merrier recent graduate or just someone trying to discover the right career path.
This is exactly what motivated me. I have a variety of interests, and interning helps me explore them and figure out what I am best at and what I would like to do career-wise. I am learning new skills and fine-tuning the ones I already have, so that I can better serve myself and whatever career I choose.
I’m here writing this because I was given the opportunity to learn more about publishing, promoting blog posts, and how to better use other forms of communication like social media. I am learning how to navigate around new platforms and improving my writing skills, as well as exploring new avenues.
Even better, I can add these new skills and experience to my resume. This is vital in finding and securing a job. You need experience, plain and simple. That, and a bit of luck and a few connections. Speaking of . . .
There are abundant opportunities to network and form connections with different people and business professionals as an intern.
Networking is key. Building successful relationships with people, career related or otherwise, is a beautiful thing. Networking gives interns the chance to pick more brains and connect with professionals who may be able to help them later. All while helping you grow your business.
Being an intern can provide someone with the opportunity to attend more events and/or meetings, which is a great way to meet new people. Socializing, introducing themselves, getting their name out, and making connections is a great way to determine what kind of job they want to move towards. Besides, now you have someone to take to all of your events, and you can instill all of your wise knowledge along the way.
There are various reasons why someone may be motivated to intern, accompanied also by a plethora of mutual benefits. If, as a business owner or leader, you can give someone the opportunity to explore their interests, gain more or new experience, build their skill set, add to their resume, network, and possibly fulfill college credit, all while helping to take some of your workload away, why wouldn’t you?
And if you’re wondering how to go about getting an intern, fear not! Check back in next week and you’ll have all the answers.
Megan Westbrook holds a B.A. in journalism with a focus in public relations and a minor in Spanish from Georgia State University. An aspiring writer, her interests reside in blogging, social media, content creation, design, and photography. She is also a passionate social justice advocate and interested in nonprofit or cause-focused work. Megan is currently a receptionist at Servcorp in Atlanta, Georgia.
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.