When something seems too good to be true, it often is just that. The same can be said about early-stage businesses hiring interns. Over the past two decades, we’ve hired dozens of interns for our startups. Some have worked out, but most haven’t.
I recently had the opportunity to outline what I’ve learned about hiring interns in a post in the Wall Street Journal.
If your small business is considering hiring an intern, I’d recommend thinking through these four areas:
- No Pay? No Way. I don’t believe in unpaid internships, at least not at for-profit startups. Internships must be all about training and the company shouldn’t bear any immediate benefit from the intern’s efforts.
- 10:1. As a general rule, don’t hire more than one intern for every ten people in the company. You need the infrastructure to actually develop your interns without stretching your team too thin. They’re taking less pay in exchange of you actively helping them to grow.
- Not Just for Newcomers. Internships aren’t just for students on break or recent grads. I’m a big believer in mid-career internships. The experience can help when someone is looking to shift professions and learn a new craft on the job.
- Interns = Employees. Ultimately, there’s no difference between interns and all other employees. Offer nothing less than fair pay, an opportunity to grow key skills through their work, and to be able to participate broadly in company activities.
Read the article in its entirety to learn more about how to make an internship beneficial to both the intern and your business.