PocketChange has moved!

You should be automatically redirected to its home on my new site, SkaareWorks, in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hiring Grown-up Interns

Unconventional times call for … well, unconventional hiring. Huh?

And how’s this for unconventional: hire an intern who isn’t a student. Better yet, hire two or three. I’m talking about big people, people with mileage. They’re available, they’re affordable, and they’re capable of rejuvenating your modus operandi and getting you ready for the eventual economic recovery -- if you’re clever enough to snag them now.

3X5 Thinking

3 reasons to hire grown-up interns

  1. You need re-engineering not reverse-engineering. Benchmarking is reverse-engineering, as is recruiting competitors’ employees. While both short-cut development time, you end up with cloned ideas and bump-off programs that short-circuit imagination and impact.

    Reverse-engineering also suggests you lack confidence in your staff’s creativity. Why not decrease benchmarking and increase the competency of originality. Re-engineer your department with clever, experienced interns who will convince you that, indeed, brilliant ideas can be invented here.

  2. You need to organize a farm team. Given tough times, your staff is probably suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. They are likely cautious and defensive, and are hunkering, waiting, and looking busy. Though the best may reinvent themselves, some may never fully recover.

    When times get good – and they will eventually – you will need additions and replacements. If you want to run fast and smart later as a league-leading team, you better have backups now in top condition who know the playbook and have chemistry with the other players.

  3. You need to work the law of averages. No matter how many interviews you put candidates through or how many references you checked, one or two of the people you hired awhile back have not met expectations. Firing is too complicated, especially now. But you can minimize the chances of repeating that mistake by setting up a training system of sorts.

    If you have student interns, their contributions are limited, quality levels are acceptable, everyone will eventually want jobs, and all hires will be entry-level.

    If you have seasoned interns, you get high-value contributors, quality levels will be generally high, the best may have to be convinced to stay, and if they do, you will have a solid core or productive and profit-generating professionals.

5 interns to choose from

Career-changer This is someone in his 30’s who may have been driven down a career road by a well-intended parent or guidance counselor but who no longer can fake fulfillment. He has the core traits to perform well – self-initiating, creative, collaborative – as well as writing and presentation skills, and a great attitude. Example: A young journalist friend saw the future of reporting, opted to complete a Masters in public relations, and then was hired as an intern for four months by a leading regional advertising/public affairs firm.

Gap-filler You’ve wanted to venture into social media/networking but have been tepid because you lack the know-how and a go-to resource. Now you have an opportunity. Offer an internship to someone who was the web developer for two years for a, now, financially stricken organization and who spends most of his late hours interacting on Twitter, sharing on Digg, and blogging. This person will put you years ahead in just one, eight-week internship.

Between-jobber A well-heeled professional in your business network has a three-month severance from her former employer and has interviews set up with prospects. She has the luxury of time, wants to learn something new to prepare her for her next job, and as she says, “help you out.” Hire her for two months, half-time at intern wages, and extract every lesson she has learned. Who knows, she might love the experience so much she stays on.

Veteran He enjoyed high school – the non-academic parts, that is – pulled bad grades but scored high on his SATs. He’s back from Iraq, earned an Associates’ degree, and demonstrates a knack for, say, selling. What he lacks are resume points and credibility. Your unit needs his perspective, skill, and military efficiency.

Teacher Your daughter’s English teacher wants to understand business writing but prefers hands-on experience rather than a course. Hire her for next summer. Teach her by having her write letters, RFPs, brochure copy, and other materials, but use her to teach your staff the basics of grammar and spelling.

Using internships for recruiting IT staff
Rating internships
An intern who took charge


Dyana Valentine said...

this is fantastic and I got a smack-on-the-forehead feeling from this. Have struggled finding "mature" interns and didn't draw the connection until now. Looking forward to approaching my local community college's Vet Student office and asking at my SCORE office if they have postings for interested candidates. Way to go! Thanks.