A huge concern for business owners regardless of size is always human resources. These are the people that form your teams and inevitably drive the day to day operations to ensure that your vision is carried out. Continuing to build a lean and effective team is the goal of all entrepreneurs and this means matching the right person to the right job. The problem with growing a team however, is headcount and the costs associated with them.
I have found that when there is no additional budget to increase full time head count that sourcing the right intern can do the trick. In fact, over this past year our team here the Wish Group has implemented a successful internship recruitment program for key departments in the organization currently in growth phase to help sustain the influx of projects and work load while also strengthening the quality of the output. There are definitively hiccups along the way but once you have a vetting process in place and the right senior management to onboard your team of interns, you’ll find the new additions rewarding on a number of fronts.
So aside from the cost savings, the most valuable facets of an internship program in my opinion is the ability to build a future team of employees without having to deal with letdowns of permanent hires. The hiring manager, the company as a whole and the business owner (make sure you make the time to engage with them) all get to see what they can expect out of the new intern, as well as gauge how they fit into the overall company culture.
A recent study by NACE showed that the average retention rate was five years for employees that held a previous internship or co-op opportunity with an employer. As a business owner this is huge, especially when the average cost of turnover is in the hundreds of thousands annually. Finding someone that fits that stick with the company longer than average is a huge win.
Boost of Energy
With the continuous pressures that each of your teams have, adding an intern can really work to increase morale, lighten the work load and optimize team dynamics. Interns are typically looking to learn and much as possible and ask questions forcing employees to be in the know and in some cases inadvertently justify their decisions, actions and output. The right intern can add a new source of energy to your team and be a highly beneficial addition.
Creating A Future
My absolute favourite part of the internship program, in line with my blog from last week on mentoring, is that our company is able to give back through our program. The best way to learn how to do something is to do just do it! Interns have an opportunity to get their hands into real work with real clients and actual outcomes which is something that they simply can’t get in school alone. Employees also get to help hone new skills and teach these younger students about the business, best practices and the industry as a whole before sending them back out into the workforce or back to regular semester sessions.
Timing Is Everything
Internships run throughout the year and depending on what your business is looking for, there is an opportunity to set up internships for Fall, Winter and Spring. We have found it beneficial to connect with internship program managers at various universities and colleges here in Toronto as well as other external sources like LiveGood that work to find the right match for eager interns while also helping to subsidize part of the costs. Reaching out in time for each of these sessions ensures we have a great pool of potential candidates and helps to then plan out deliverables on upcoming projects.
While business is about the bottom line at the end of the day it is simply not enough to stop there. It is every business owner’s responsibility to find ways to give back to the community and establishing a strong internship program is just one of the many ways to do this. Try it out yourself-you’ll be happily surprised at how helping this group of youth will in turn further help your business grow even faster.
Best of luck!