Hiring Interns can be tricky. Internships can be a hugely enriching and valuable experience, both for you as the employer and for the intern too. But how can we ensure that everyone involved has the best experience possible?
Hiring interns: For what purpose?
“It’s really important before you go on to hire an intern that you know what the purpose of that intern is.” So says Sarah Hoyle, the AC’s resident HR expert.
“Are you wanting to provide experience for somebody? Is it about training people and having them then spread their wings into your industry? And that you want to do your bit to provide experience for somebody?”
Looking to expand your team?
Is this your first hire? A lot of agencies want to dip their toe in the water of hiring somebody. Often hiring an intern is a good way to do that.
Are you pipeline building? Some agencies do this regularly year on year. They’ll hire an intern for a fixed period of time and train them. With a view that at the end of the internship, they take them on permanently.
Or are you hiring an intern because you have a specific project? Have you got something that’s quite time bound? Or you’ve identified an area that you could maybe do with some junior support on?”
Clarity is key
Whatever your reason, this clarity of purpose isn’t just something to consider before you hire an intern. It should be something integral to every stage of the process. And this means making sure that the intern is also aware of this purpose and has the opportunity to decide whether your purpose aligns with their own. This is one of the reasons that Sarah believes that interns should go through an interview process just as you would with anyone else working for you.
“If you interview somebody and they say: “Well, actually, I want to do six weeks for you then I’m off to Canada for a year.” They might not be the right fit for you, because you want to pipeline build.
If your purpose is: “I want to give experience to people and I don’t mind if they stay or not.” That person might be right. And likewise, if somebody is looking for somebody that would take them on afterwards and you can’t, it’s important that they at least know that.
So being clear on the expectations of what the outcome of the internship is, but also the role and responsibilities.”
So it seems the keys to a successful internship are open communication, honesty and most of all, purpose.
Sarah May, Head of People and Wellbeing, The Agency Collective
Sarah is the resident HR expert at The Agency Collective. If you are a member, you get Sarah included in your membership and she is on hand to help agency founders with their everyday HR challenges.
When not talking about all things employment law and HR, shes enjoy inspiring others to help young people into the world of work (that means lots of work with schools), mentoring and changing a little corner of the world.