Interns Gone Wild: Bad Strategy or Bad Hiring?

Is hiring interns a bad idea?

A recent Entry-Level Rebel blog on, Why Unpaid Interns Don’t Equal Free Work, highlighted a blog post by Barry Moltz that raises this controversial issue.

Moltz suggests that for entrepreneurs, hiring interns can be a bad strategy – for both parties. However, he then lists six steps employers can take to ensure a successful internship experience.

  1. Goals for internship period
  2. Train the interns and give them a copy of the employee manual
  3. Monitor the interns’ progress, weekly
  4. Get other employees (in addition to the supervisor) involved with the interns
  5. Conduct an exit interview
  6. Pay an honorarium

So, according to this blog… Is this bad strategy? Or bad hiring?

Interns, like any other team member, come with various skill sets and most certainly varying levels of experience and maturity. So in addition to being prepared to integrate interns into your operation, you need to maintain a recruitment process that encourages hiring the right person for the right role. In other words, in many cases the intern hiring process is similar to that of hiring full-time employees.

Interns as Employees and Valuable Contributors

Interns require varying amounts of training, depending on the role they are being asked to fulfill. As stated in a previous YouTern blog, an increasing number of “student” interns now arrive at the doorstep of small and startup companies with considerable experience under their belts – including government, political, public relations, social media, web development, marketing and even Fortune 500 experience.

With increasingly experienced interns joining companies, the emphasis should be on mentorship and developing the talents the young professionals already possess.

Yes, some interns are more “green” than others and will undoubtedly need more guidance. Managing and molding – maybe even hand-holding – however, isn’t a unique management challenge exclusive to interns. In the ranks of workforce veterans, there are those who theoretically shouldn’t need “training”, “guidance”, or “mentoring”. Yet these people end up being, for lack of a better term, “high-maintenance”. I know – I’ve managed them!

As with any new employee hire, hiring the wrong intern will cost you time and productivity. Make the right hire, however, and there are tremendous rewards and benefits for both parties.

About the Author: Joe Gagliano, a founding member of YouTern and our CMO, brings years of start-up management, strategic planning, marketing and market research experience to the team and his blog posts. Joe, who runs our learning center for interns, also brings a passion for start-ups, entrepreneurship and mentorship to our team.

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