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Do interns require too much time?

Summer intern With the arrival of summer, many small businesses take on interns. They are cheap, sometimes even free, and they are eager beavers, willing to do the grunt work that you and others don't want to do.

But will they require too much of your time?

Interns often have little or no work history. They need lots of hand holding and sometimes, they even seem to lack the common sense as to what's appropriate to wear to work or say at work. I have spent lots of time working with interns at The Miami Herald in one of our bureaus. They do require a lot of guidance and patience. I asked my editor Terence Shepherd for his thoughts. "They do require more guidance and that's to be expected. I think the pluses are greater than the minuses. They often do the work that veterans can't or won't do and they are more malleable. They can give the editor a different perspective, helping them reminds us how a story comes together from Point A to Point B."

"An owners who's busy running a company might find he or she also needs to become a boss/parent/teacher to an intern," says an article by Associate Press writer Joyce Rosenberg. "It can be time consuming but also rewarding."

Rosenberg points out: "Interns are supposed to be having a learning experience, not giving a company another warm body. They may need more supervision than an owner expects."

The flip side is that the time investment could pay off, if you end up hiring them eventually as full time staffers. You also have to be really careful if you have unpaid interns that they're not violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. (click here for the criteria)

Keep in mind, giving a student an internship has a huge impact.  The National Association for Colleges and Employers(NACE) report, found new graudates who had internships last year fared far better in the job market than those who did not.  The survey found 23 percent of those with internships who graduated in 2009 had a job lined up by April. For those who didn't, only 14 percent landed jobs by that time.

What has your experience been with summer interns? Did the person require more time and energy than you expected? Was it worth it?



Comments

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Irina Patterson

I am a *virtual intern*, meaning I'm interning from my home in Miami for a Silicon Valley-based global initiative "One Million by One Million" (1M1M) that aims to help 1 million entrepreneurs to reach their fist $1 million in revenue each.

I have been doing it since February 1, 2010. The experience is incredible and I urge all Miami graduates, students and all who are interested in entrepreneurship to become interns with 1M1M: http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/03/18/1m1m-internships/

My internship within 1M1M focuses on seed financing, Angel investing research. I report my findings here: http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/05/19/irina-patterson/

We have quite a few interns who are spread globally and all charged with serious business or research tasks. All interns are being managed, I must say with great efficiency, by a single person, Sramana Mitra, the creator of 1M1M, and Silicon Valley veteran business strategies.

Sramana uses LinkedIn and other social media tools to guide and manage her Interns. The learning is incredible.

Personally, I am learning from Angel Investors who I talk to every day; from Sramana herself who is, and that is my opinion, a genius business strategist; from entrepreneurs who we all interact with; and, through interaction every day all interns learn from each other.

Hand holding? No hand holding here. You sink or swim. As Sramana likes to say, she doesn't like to spoon-feed adults! And she doesn't! She provides all her interns with an entire ecosystem and structure for learning and we are learning the hell out of it... Check it out: http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/03/18/1m1m-internships/

My Twitter is @mylifeandart if you need to ask a quick question.

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