Are Agency Interns the Answer?

By | October 2, 2012
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Girl SwimmingYour agency is crazy busy. New business is flooding in, and your existing staff is stretched way beyond capacity. You need some additional support in the short term to keep your head above water. Are interns the answer to your staffing needs?

I’d argue no, and here’s why.

Interns are a Responsibility

As Forbes explains, internship programs need to benefit the student by helping them learn and perfect new skills that will help them in their career. They shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix, or free or cheap labor.  

In taking on an intern, you’re making a commitment to that person that you will devote the time and energy needed to help them progress forward. This is a huge undertaking, and if you don’t have the resources to provide that level of mentoring, then you shouldn’t have an intern.

For a successful internship program, you need work for the student to complete, time and personnel to properly train them, and a place for them to work (e.g. desk, computer, etc.), according to CBS Moneywatch.

In the majority of cases, you also need to have the financial backing to pay them, as most for-profit unpaid internships are illegal. (Wondering if you need to pay up? Use this simple flowchart as a guide to find out.)

For these reasons, internships should be taken very seriously. Don’t just dive in; evaluate your options based on your existing resources, workload, time availability and more.

Benefits if Done Well

That said, in the right environment, internships can be a very positive experience for both parties. For students, they can be a great way to advance careers and gain real-world experiences. For employers, they open up the door to new and fresh perspectives, added project support, and potential job candidates.

In fact, “the National Association of Colleges and Employers has consistently reported that 20-25% of new hires are sourced from the employer’s own internship program,” according to an article on the MarketingProf’s Daily Fix blog.

Today's marketing programs require hybrid professionals that can deliver on integrated programs. However, there is a talent gap. What better way to find the right professionals for your agency, then by training them yourself? For this reason alone, the kickback to employers can be profound if you have the time, energy, resources and expertise to fill a mentorship role.

Do You Hire Interns?

What are your thoughts on interns? Do you hire them? Why or why not? Share your experiences and perspectives below.

Image Credit: rdeetz