Wednesday, May 04, 2005

When you Need an Extra Hand: Consider Internships

There are a lot of positive things to be said for finding ways to automate processes around your office, and streamlining some of the more mundane tasks that you face. But, those can take time and energy to set up. And there are tasks that just need to be done by hand. Jobs that aren't necessarily complex, and don't need a considerable amount of experience or knowledge to do.

Sometimes, taking the time to make sure that these tasks are done, and are done right can take you away from the work that you enjoy doing, and that helps bring the money in.

Where would you find someone who might be able to lend a hand for a few hours a week, and tackle some of these tasks with energy and vigor?

Living, and working in a college town, it's difficult to miss all of the college students around. It was for us. If you are fortunate to have a University, or a business school near where you work, you may have an answer to the problem of needing an extra hand for a few hours a week. It was a solution that we found not only helpful, but filled with some benefits that surprised us a little.

Interns come in many shapes and sizes, and with different levels of experience and expertise. And students who would be willing to take a position as an intern are usually thankful for the opportunity. It's a chance for them to get some experience, put something on their resume, and earn a few dollars in a position that may just be flexible enough to fit around their class schedule.

What would you do to find some of these potential interns? Many schools and universities have placement offices for their students. Some of these are even online. Make a list of the Schools near you, and open up your phonebook, or even your browser, and see if you can locate the placement offices for those schools. Chances are, you should be able to.

If you are really fortunate, one or more of those schools will have a database that you can use to post about an internship opportunity online. Treat finding an intern like you would hiring any employee. Ask for a resume, schedule interviews, ask questions, and be selective. Chances are that you will get a number of responses to an ad if you offer flexible hours, decent pay, and a pleasant working environment, filled with tasks that might make a student's resume look better to potential employers when they graduate.

Some of the benefits that you might get from hiring an intern include the chance to work with people with skills that may surprise you a little. A computer science student might just be able to help you automate some tasks around the office that you don't have the time to do yourself. An english major may be able to skillfully proofread important documents, and even help write some manuals and process documents that make your office more productive. A business or marketing student may bring some ideas to your business that you hadn't considered before.

Another possibility is that today's intern may be the best full time employee your office has after they graduate. And, if you have a very small office, the chance to work with an intern may give you some experience managing and supervising people that you didn't have before.

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