Interns are a handy resource for entrepreneurs just starting out, offering an affordable manpower option. Without the budget for a human resources department, entrepreneurs will need to be hands-on when it comes to staff management. It is important to give proper thought to ways to manage interns in an effective and efficient manner.
1. Be Selective
It is tempting to just take on anyone willing to work for you for an intern’s pay. While an intern is not a full-time worker, you still need to decide on hiring criteria and a selection process. This will help you vet your candidates so you will only accept quality interns who will assist and not hinder your operations.
At the same time, think of your interns as possible future employees so why settle for anything less than the best you can get? CareerExposure.com recently ran a survey that found that 94 per cent of employers go on to offer full-time positions to their interns, which shows that many companies do consider internship a path to employment.
CIMB Malaysia’s online hiring ad is a good reference. Its website states clearly that it will offer full-time positions to its best interns. It also lists the minimum requirements needed to apply, including a minimum CGPA of 3.0 and good interpersonal skills.
2. Keep Good Records
At the very least, you should keep basic records. Ensure you always have your interns’ contact information and pertinent details on hand from the start.
Resist any inkling to put off record-keeping or getting the paperwork sorted. In case of emergencies, you do not want to be caught out. If you can’t handle keeping records for a few interns, how can you say you can manage a team?
Once you get a bigger operation, then you can perhaps consider outsourcing your HR processes but if your organisation has less than 10 people, you surely can handle it yourself. Interns’ allowances is far less complex to manage than payroll for fulltimers.
Intel Malaysia has its candidates fill in a Candidate Profile form, which means that all required information will be on hand once the candidate joins.
3. Define Tasks and Responsibilities
It’s a common stereotype- having interns around just to run errands or make coffee. It is a waste to have manpower on hand if you do not use it well.
Ask yourself-why do you need interns? Decide just what you can and should delegate to them. Even better, a list of tasks and a drawn-up schedule will ensure you don’t have your intern spend the whole afternoon just answering the phone when you might need them to do research or draw up contact lists.
At the same time, manage your expectations. Interns are human, not indefatigable robots – give them enough time to do the tasks allotted as well as a little leeway for breaks and repast.
At Google, interns will take a minute daily to give up an update to their assigned teams on recent work keeping everyone in the loop on their current tasks. That is one way for the company to ensure interns are doing useful work and not just being the office photocopy runner.
4. Interns are Complements, Not Replacements
Don’t think you can get away with hiring a few interns instead of just hiring a full-timer. Interns are there to assist you with tasks that would take away valuable time from things you can only do yourself.
Do not be too eager to hire too many interns at first, especially if you do not have experience in managing teams. Start with one or two and only increase the number when you have someone you can delegate the managing of interns to – by then, your company will probably have grown past the initial stages.
Hiring an entry-level worker might also be more ideal as they tend to be already prepped to work while an intern is still on the path towards career preparation, requiring more training and hand-holding. Internship programmes also have a shorter duration, as some interns are only available for a semester while you might need manpower all year around.
Interns can be valuable assets as you take your first steps as an entrepreneur – just don’t be too quick to squander them.