Your business is working to build traction and momentum. The vision is strong, and the ambition is fierce—now you just need the right kind of talent to mobilize it to fruition. Meanwhile, on university campuses across the nation or even around the world, the next generation of corporate leaders and innovators are eager for just about any job experience they can acquire. Often, this takes the form of an internship.
These college students tend to seek out intern positions because they offer accessible, tactile real-world training. And this is a mutual benefit to you as the business owner since you are able to recruit and teach an enthusiastic labor pool for a nominal overhead cost. Students are the future of this workforce, so interacting with them as interns can help you mold them into productive employees in the long-term. Here are five qualities to be on the lookout for when choosing an intern for your small business.
Spirit of Entrepreneurship
Given the trailblazing, maverick culture of a small business, you need an intern who is also entrepreneurial by nature. If the candidate is intrepid, tenacious, determined and creative, this is a person you want on the team. This is an individual who can succeed and reach their potential in a startup environment. So capitalize on their eclectic ideas, fresh perspectives and bold ingenuity. After all, points out Dan Schwabel of the consulting firm Millennial Branding, “Who better understands that a lack of resources and manpower forces you to work harder in the initial stages [of a business] than a young entrepreneur?”
Knack for Being Versatile
From administrative tasks to social media campaigns to data entry functions to customer service to brainstorm sessions, small business teams are required to perform many different roles. So you need an intern who can thrive in a flexible atmosphere, and is prepared to learn the gamut of diverse skills. Students are used to handle various writing assignments, bid for college papers and essays, and do a part time job all at the same time. The reason they are assets here is because versatility does not intimidate them, dynamic of multi-tasking exhilarates them. Since they are used to adapting to classroom expectations, these workers can “modify their approach to tasks based on…the unique demands of each situation,” notes The Balance Careers.
Passion for the Industry
This is an attribute which cannot be taught—either the candidate has an intrinsic passion for the industry and mission, or they do not. So focus your efforts on recruiting and developing the passionate intern. This kind of worker does not settle for a disconnected or mediocre performance, but feels inspired, energized and stimulated by their responsibilities. If an intern is emotionally drawn to the business, then you can depend on their commitment level. According to Deloitte, passion drives workers to “continuously renew and refresh their skills” which adds more “value to their teams, organizations and ecosystems.”
Attitude of a Self-Starter
When a person is motivated and disciplined to conduct their own schedules or workloads with minimal supervision, this is someone you can trust to finish the job both productively and efficiently. This candidate makes an excellent intern because they do not need constant reminders to meet a deadline, collaborate on a project, deliver a presentation or reach out to a client. Not only will this intern understand the importance of time management, but they can utilize it to remain on-task. In fact, academic research at the University of Jaffna found a direct correlation between self-motivation and increased work performance.
Capacity to Troubleshoot.
In addition to exhibiting the required initiative to complete a task, an intern must also be proficient in creating solutions and resolving conflicts as they arise. Problems are inevitable in business, so you need a team who can respond to these issues with sound judgment and critical thinking. Instead of a frantic or reactionary approach, an effective troubleshooter will take composed and measured actions to sort through a dilemma before it can escalate. Based on metrics from LiveCareer, problem-solving ranks in the top five aptitudes business owners desire most in employees because it promotes a resolution oriented culture.
If you have considered hiring an intern for your small business, there are multiple factors to take into account. How many hours each week should this person come into the office? How long will the internships` duration be? What are the main responsibilities expected of the intern? Will they receive a stipend or another form of compensation?
All these logistics aside, however, the most crucial aspect is who to recruit because that individual is about to become a contributing member of your team—and perhaps even a full-time employee. So be strategic with the person you choose. Think in terms of longevity and seek out the qualities above for an intern who can be shaped into a future leader.