Thanks to one of my networking friends, I was introduced to a great new Meet Up group, the Atlanta Business Academy for Women, run by Belinda Mays. I really enjoyed this networking event as it was just not the regular meet and greet, but there was actual valuable content imparted.
Have to admit that I was initially intrigued because the title of the meeting: “The secrets to finding a full staff of cheap and free labor”. While Southeastern Admin is not free (sorry to let you know) or cheap (in terms of the quality offered), I thought the business owners who were interested in this topic and attending the meeting might also be interested in my services – Capitalist that I am.
I came away with some good information that every small business owner could use. Belinda points out that all of us have “chores” that could/should be outsourced so that you can stay focused on what’s important to your business. Some of these include: Affiliate Program Setup, Blog Content, Bookkeeping, Budgeting/Forecasting, Data Entry, Lead Generation, Event Planning, Email Campaigning, Research, etc.
Others are more task based and involve technical skills at a certain level: Website Design, Graphic Designing, Animation Creation, Photography, Ghost Writing, Branding and Publicity, etc. For the more technical skill sets, you could set up an internship program! However, it must be a win-win for both you, the business owner receiving free/cheap labor, and the intern, receiving ownership and credit for the project, and allowing them to further hone their craft.
Remember that as a small business owner, you must compete for interns with the likes of Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Baker McKenzie. Your posting for intern position should be professional and make your intern want to work for your company. Go online to Monster or CareerBuilder and look at similar postings for paid positions. Make sure to list specifics for the internship: how long will the position be required; the degree they are pursuing and/or necessary skills required; and is it paid or unpaid.
Does your intern need to come to your place of business? There are plenty of ways to connect via phone, the internet, web meetings, etc., so don’t limit yourself to local colleges and universities. Some good online posting sites are: Internmatch.com, Internships.com and rsinternships.com. Does your project involve multiple facets? You might need more than one intern to complete the project (i.e., a website designer, a graphic designer and a marketing major).
During the interview process there are some important steps to remember to find the quality intern you require. The answers to these questions will build to filter out the candidates that will not be a good match for your needs.
- First provide a brief overview of you and your company’s services. Before explaining the position in depth, find out what their career goals are and what they hope to gain from the experience. Do their goals fit in with your overall requirements?
- Next ask them what assignments they need to fulfill their goals. Again, do these assignments fit in with your requirements?
- If their goals and assignments fit in with your needs, now you can begin to detail the duties, and tie them in with their goals, ensuring that your candidate sees the benefit in working for you. Find out how many hours they can dedicate to your project each week and when they can be available for project review meetings. Again, you want to create a win-win situation, allowing them flexibility so that they can work efficiently and want to complete the project at no or little cost to you.
- If everything is a fit, ask them if they would like to be considered for the position and make sure to send them your intern program contract. This contract should include: contact information of all parties, term dates, compensation (if any), duties, reporting instructions, location and scheduling (onsite or virtual and expected work hours), any equipment required for them to complete the assignment (are you providing any, or are they expected have their own), and a Nondisclosure agreement that will be signed by all parties (don’t forget this crucial step).
The way you treat the interns is critical to the win-win deal; do not expect them to pick up your cleaning or go get your lunch, treat them as though they were an actual employee (just without the salary).
Think about offering bonuses, based on their completing certain tasks. Belinda lets her interns choose their own title. How great of a draw is that? Imagine listing on your resume that you were the Marketing Director for a company while attending college? If you are a small business, and you wish to delegate all of your marketing programs to your intern, then this would in actuality be an accurate title.