Flip on your TV and you will quickly learn that interns are good at three things:
- Making a killer cup of coffee.
- Running all your personal errands.
- Making notable mistakes, such as almost starting your company’s building on fire.
While that makes for great TV, those examples are not true in the real world (except for the coffee part).
Interns have now become an essential ingredient for success. They’re fresh, energetic, and willing to learn. These are just a few reasons why you might want to consider hiring an intern.
Behind every successful team is a great intern who’s eager to gain knowledge and experience from what you have to offer.
All you need to do is find the right candidate that fits well with your team. Easy, right? Maybe not, but don’t worry.
We’ll teach you everything we’ve learned and show you how to hire an intern the right way. First, we’ll bring in Nathan Ellering, our Content Marketing Lead, to talk about the hiring process. Then, I’ll let you know what ambitious intern candidates are looking for from companies (and what we need to do our best work). By the end, you’ll have a clear picture of how to run a successful internship program.
Why You Should Hire An Intern, According To Nathan Ellering
Why you need an intern may seem obvious. However, you and your intern will accomplish more if you clearly define one set of responsibilities and projects that they’ll take ownership of:
- What daily tasks could an intern become an expert at? Think of something that’ll eliminate it nearly entirely from your to-do list. (Scheduling social media messages, maybe?)
- Which kinds of projects could you teach an intern once, then repeat, and improve consistently? (Writing landing pages, maybe?)
After you clearly define a valuable project you can teach an intern, it’s time to start the hiring process. But what should you look for?
Which Qualities To Look For In An Intern
Skills can be taught. Grit, ambition, and determination can’t.
Either your potential intern is a go-getter, or, as a mentor, you can tell her exactly what to do every step of the way.
The trick is to find a balance between passion for the type of work you’re going to offer an intern and the tenacity that will help them succeed as an individual member of your team.
At CoSchedule, that requires a multi-phased intern interview process:
- Sourcing and applying: This is when you actively search for candidates who may have had internships in your industry in the past, or are majoring in the kind of work you’d like help with. Share your posting on local college job pages, search for them on LinkedIn, and syndicate your listing to sites like Indeed. Review every application to determine if there’s a passion for what your intern will do before you even speak with them.
- Intro interview: This is an informal meeting, either in person or over the phone. The goal is to ask basic questions to gauge candidates’ interest, experience—even if it’s just through classwork—and long-term career goals. It’s a nice opportunity to ask questions like:
- “Why are you pursuing your degree?”
- “What do you want to do after college and even a few years after that?”
- “Why do you want to work with us?”
Watch out for purely “learning” answers to that last question; ultimately, you need your intern to do meaningful work and not just learn.
- Hiring packet and example: If an intern candidate makes it past the intro interview, ask her to fill out a personality quiz to help you understand how she may work best. At this point, also give her an example project, and ask her to work through it to the best of her abilities without much direction.
- Final interview: When a candidate meets your expectations and would fit in well with your team’s culture, it’s time to get the team’s opinions. Peer review the example, look for red flags, and determine how to proceed.
- Offer: When you get all thumbs up, ask the candidate to join your team!
This approach can help you strategically choose a candidate who will work well with minimal direction after initial new hire onboarding, collaborate effectively with your team, and push themselves—and subsequently, your entire team—to ship more projects.
How To Get Your Intern Started
Clearly plan out your expectations. Let your intern know exactly what they will do in their first month. A great way to do this is by creating an on-boarding checklist in a tool like Evernote that contains:
- Important documents to read or videos to watch to help your intern learn what their responsibilities are.
- A list of projects the intern will complete, along with commentary on your expectations on what the outcomes of those projects will look like.
From here, help them learn how to work with your team to complete those projects.
After the first project is done, there will be lots of lessons learned from everyone involved. Ask your intern to review the process with the entire team to improve the project process:
- What went well?
- What went wrong?
- What should we improve?
Now I’m tossing this back to Halle, social media intern extraordinaire, to share how to incorporate an intern into your team.
And Now, Back To Halle: How To Incorporate An Intern Into Your Team
Nathan just gave you a great rundown of the hiring process.
Now, I’ll tell you what your intern needs to succeed, based on what we’ve learned at CoSchedule.
In order to have a successful intern, you need make them feel like they are part of the team because well—they are.
How do you do this?
- Meetings: Hold daily meetings to sync with your team and intern.
- Projects: Give your intern more opportunities to learn, by including them in team projects.
- Team activities: Allow your intern to be a part of team activities and exercises.
Ready to become an expert? Let’s jump in!
1. Holding Daily Sync Meetings
Here at CoSchedule, we hold a Scrum meeting every morning before starting our work day.
Scrum is a daily meeting everyone attends. These are informal touch points, and they are effective with small teams who collaborate on projects together.
What better way to make your intern feel at home than to have them be a part of your scrum meetings. The intern gets a first-hand look at what the team is working on and also how they can contribute.
By including an intern in scrum meetings, they are able to understand the status of a project and can ask questions or express concerns.
How can you incorporate your intern into meetings?
- Set a specific time for scrum meetings every day. This way your intern can develop a daily work routine.
- Discuss what projects you are currently working on with the team and what tasks the intern needs to have completed with set deadlines.
- Ask what each member of the team is working on, including your intern. This way they can bring up any roadblocks or questions they may have regarding the project.
2. Make Your Intern A Part Of Your Team Projects
Remember why your intern is really there—to learn.
The best way to learn is by doing.
If your team has any current project in the works, make it your goal that the young individual is a part of the strategy or at least has some sort of task involved.
Providing valuable projects he or she can take on, even if it’s just a small piece of a larger project, can be a great way to learn. Be sure to offer your intern opportunities that enrich your company and their career growth.
Some marketing tasks your intern could tackle include:
- Social Media: Young professionals are creative geniuses at social media. You’d be surprised at what knowledge they hold regarding social media.
- Research: Interns are either in school or fresh out of school, so they are magical wizards at researching topics quickly and efficiently.
- Writing: You may already have a content writer, but consider giving your intern a piece of content they can write and perfect (such as this blog post I am writing).
3. Include Your Intern In Team Activities
Do you have a team event going on?
Include your intern!
Is everyone on your team going out to eat?
Include your intern!
Team bonding is a phenomenal way to make your intern feel comfortable and gives them a chance to get to know everyone around the office.
Every Wednesday at CoSchedule, we have “Grillmaster Wednesday” where a member of our team is in charge of grilling lunch for everyone.
And 9 out of 10 times it’s one of our interns that steps up to the plate—literally.
A Little Internship Program Advice
For anyone who has never hired an intern before, it’s a wonderful experience. Plus, who couldn’t use an extra set of hands? Mistakes will be made on both sides, but that’s the beauty of it.
It’s a learning experience for you and your intern. Use this experience to further develop your management skills.
So here is a little advice that will go a long way…
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Give More
It’s better to have more than to not have enough when it comes to an internship program.
You want your intern to gain a great deal of knowledge from all the experience they’ve learned. If they are doing one simple task over and over they will become very bored.
Don’t be afraid to challenge your intern and have them do something out of their comfort zone—like writing a blog post or a landing page—they might thank you for it.
You should set aside some time each day to check in with your intern. Have a more formal touch point about once a week to keep them informed about upcoming projects and to ensure they have a clear direction of their current project.
2. Create A Friendly Environment
As a mentor, you need to create an environment that makes an intern feel comfortable.
Don’t just stick them in a room by themselves and hope they are learning. Unhappy interns will not want to be part of a team that doesn’t appreciate them.
You and your intern will be spending a lot of time together, so it’s important that they are comfortable enough to ask questions or chime in when they have suggestions.
It’s also important to build a relationship with an intern so that YOU’RE comfortable enough to ask questions.
Ask them where they would derive the most value for their time spent with you, and seek to arrange a project in the areas that most interest and drive them.
If your intern is doing a great job, let them know! Providing words of encouragement will make the individual more productive and continue to thrive.
3. Look At Mistakes As Lessons Learned
I can guarantee that there will be mistakes made—from both ends. Use these mistakes as a learning opportunity for the future. If your intern is drowning in confusion, it’s up to you to jump in and save them.
The intern you picked likely passed up on a summer full of road trips or a fall full of pumpkin spiced anything to work for your company. Always remember that they want to be here and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Aim to be a mentor your intern can learn from and look up to.
Take the time to answer questions, and teach new concepts so that you can avoid future hiccups. You’ll even learn a thing or two yourself during the entire process, whether it be better ways to manage or smarter ways to complete certain tasks.
Now You Know How To Hire A Successful Marketing Intern!
Throughout the internship program, always make sure you are giving the individual opportunities to learn or projects that will look awesome on their resume.
Many companies may offer their interns full-time jobs if their work was exceptional. If you don’t intend on hiring on your intern, then write them a great letter of recommendation.
At the end of the internship program, an intern should walk away with an unforgettable experience that was engaging and worthwhile.