If you're as busy as most professionals, you have likely considered hiring an intern. It seems like a win-win situation — free or low-cost help for you and a chance to help someone get a start in your industry. In reality, finding and working with an intern may end up being more work than simply doing those tasks yourself. Here are a few things to consider before hiring an intern.
Why Do You Need Help?
Most overworked professionals wish they had someone to help them with the grunt work, those tasks that no one really wants to do. You may want someone to file papers, enter data or sort through mail. Although an intern can do these types of tasks, internships are only valuable to interns if they are learning things and getting experience doing real work. Conversely, you might need help with something that requires expertise outside your field. Although hiring an intern with the right kind of training for the work might seem like a good idea, think twice before going that route. Interns expect oversight and on-the-job training, something they are not going to get if you don't know how to do the work yourself.
How Much Money and Time Do You Have?
If you have the funds in your budget, you should probably hire freelance help instead of getting an intern, especially if you need someone to help with areas of a project that are beyond your abilities. On the other hand, a temporary worker is a good choice if you just need an extra worker to plug away at repetitive tasks to get a project in by deadline. In addition to getting help that doesn't need or expect hand holding, you also have the satisfaction of giving someone a job and helping to improve your local economy. Hiring an intern is a better choice if you have more time than money. You and the intern can work together on tasks, giving the intern that training and oversight he needs, and when both of you are comfortable with his abilities, he can take over some responsibilities for you.
Reasons to Hire an Intern
In general, the best reason for hiring an intern is because you want to help someone out, not because you need help. If you have something to offer someone just starting out professionally, an intern is a good choice. Just be sure to screen your intern applicants as carefully as you would job applicants. Look for someone with the right knowledge and background who just needs a little more experience to shine. Make a list of those things your intern will get out of the experience, and keep that in mind throughout his time with your organization.
Consider hiring an intern if you need extra help and want to help someone new to your field advance his professional skills. Remember that an intern is not simply free labor. Interns expect compensation, such as training, valuable experience, networking opportunities, commuting costs, and stipends. If you need someone with expertise or don't have time to provide training and oversight, consider using freelance help instead of hiring an intern.
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