Internships are one of the most interesting opportunities for students and businesses alike. Ranging vastly in their offerings, industries, and future opportunities, the internship has become an important aspect in the modern world of education, employment, and even economics. While there is a vast list of ways that internships benefit students—whether in high school or higher education—one of the common questions is how internships benefit the small businesses who host them.
There are a number of amazing opportunities for small businesses taking advantage of internships, and we’re going to examine some of the big ones.
Many small businesses exist within a local community. While there are of course exceptions to this, most small businesses have a place that they call home, this space typically being where an intern will come from.
“One of the best ways for a small business to grow, both in employees and in profit, is to become a concrete piece of their community. Producing loyal customers and a local environment can provide small businesses with a unique sort of business immortality.” – Leo Livshetz, Founder and CEO of UnHide
If your small business wants to become a more prominent member of your community, bringing on an intern, or starting an internship program can be one of the best ways to do so. Whether for high school students or college students, this allows for your younger community to participate in your business’s purpose. This younger community can help connect your business to the rest of your locale, and may even grow your consumer base.
Even more so, this builds your business’ relationship with your community, especially as more interns come and go, generating a deeper community that knows the more human aspects of your small business.
“Hiring an intern is investing in your small business’s future employees.” – Cole Steverson, COO of Hybrid2Go
While of course not every intern you bring on as a small business will end up being a future employee, a number of them will. Your intern pool becomes one of the best hiring pools you can look for, providing you with a number of intensive benefits.
First and foremost, this saves you money on recruitment. Whether it’s time spent searching for employees or interviewing, or money spent spreading word of your open positions, hiring from interns who want to work for your business is both a time and money saver.
Second, it saves you time with training. Many high-end tech companies hire almost exclusively from their intern pools, because they don’t have to introduce them to all of their systems, and can avoid training them out of common new-hire mistakes. When you hire interns, you don’t need to worry about training or relationship building as much as you may need to otherwise.
Lastly, you have already established trust with your employee. The relational aspects of a new hire can be difficult.
“As an employer, you need to establish trust with your new employee, you need to get to know them, and you need to understand how they function within your workplace. When you hire an intern, you have already undergone the majority of this process.” – Michael Ayjian, Co-Founder and Executive Producer at 7 Wonders Cinema
Hiring interns is an investment in your future employees. You are pouring into educating and preparing your future workforce to not only excel at their work, but to be passionate about it.
Most internships are not mandatory, and in many cases they are not paid. In many instances, small businesses may be taking on employees who have applied because of a financial need, or because it’s what they are qualified for, or could find. While this is not innately bad, it does bring cause for a lack of employee passion.
“Interns choose where they are working. They have made the decision to devote their time to learning a new skill, and doing so in a real-world, productive manner.” – Anamika Goyal, Head of Architecture and Design of Cottage
Your interns can significantly improve your workplace environment, while vastly contributing to your team. If they have chosen to intern at your business, they likely have an interest at the least, and a passion at the most. Passionate people on your team can reignite the spark of your employment force, and may even help managers and leaders remember their reason for doing what they do.
Many small businesses suffer from some form of an employment gap. This may be an entire position that they are struggling to fill, a position that people do not want to work, or a number of tasks which crossover between teams that the workforce struggles to complete.
Interns can be an excellent resource for filling these gaps.
“An internship is a great way to bring on a passionate, regular employee who is willing to work various oddball, and learning jobs. They are capable of being cross-departmental, and don’t have to operate under the same stress the rest of your team may be functioning under.” – Trey Ferro, CEO of Spot Pet Insurance
An internship program can help your business fill the spaces that you need help in, but don’t have the ability to hire a full-time position for. Additionally, it allows for a number of individuals and departments to integrate with a helper who has acknowledged the reality of an internship.
One thing that interns are not, is qualification-focused. This means that they are unlikely to enter your workspace and deny doing a task because they are overqualified, or refuse to do a task that they are under qualified for.
“Interns are in your workspace to learn. They will trust you when you teach them something new, and will also accept doing tasks like picking up coffees, or simple data work that other departments may not have the time or capacity to do.” – Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce
This accomplishes two things for your small business. First, it allows your employees to focus on their positions, freeing some stress from your team. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it humbles your employees. Sometimes the best thing for a team is watching someone who has no experience in their industry that is willing to do everything.
One of the best ways to grow as a person, and to learn more about yourself or your work, is to teach someone else. It may be easy to think that teaching an intern is only beneficial to them, but teaching is one of the best avenues for personal growth.
“Hiring an intern supplies the chance to be humbled. A person can realize just how much room they have to grow, and how much they miss the active learning process. Progressing through workplace engagement with an intern can teach managers and employees far more than they expect.” – Guna Kakulapati, CEO of CureSkin
If you feel stuck, or like you are losing your passion for what you do, an internship program might end up being the best thing for you and your business.
While there are all of these reasons that hiring an intern can benefit your business, from finances, to time, to future investments, a great reason to hire an intern is because it’s fun!
Interns bring a freshness into the workplace, add a new relational aspect, put forth a youthful spirit, and can create a fun social environment for you and your team. In most cases, an internship program won’t hurt your business, but can only grow it. If you’ve never tried an internship program, now might be the time to try. Bring in a young person who is interested in, and passionate about your industry, and you will be surprised how much your team enjoys it.