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.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Lot of Beef about a Lot of Beef

A fifteen pound hamburger.

Has to be a publicity stunt. I saw this on TV not too long ago. They showed one of these whoppers (am I allowed to refer to it with that word?) being cooked. It's a lot of beef.

MSNBC couldn't resist the bait: Burger war grows with new 15 pounder.

For some reason, the thought of a fifteen pound hamburger has me considering a diet.

Jeeves Disconnects Advertising Partner: Will Overture Follow Suit?

Bambi Francisco has filed an update on Adware and Spyware, and the potential fallout of a suit filed by New York State's Attorney General.

She received some interesting comments, and some interesting news, and writes about it in Net Sense: Intermix is just the start

I wrote about the lawsuit and Ben Edelman's Research on Spyware, and his second in a series which showed an application from an Ask Jeeves property installing software on a computer without the computer owner's knowledge or consent. It seems like the Ask Jeeve's folks hadn't seen it, at least until Bambi Francisco showed it to them.

After she played one of Ben Edelman's video clips for a spokesperson from Ask Jeeves, action appears to have been taken quickly:

Staples came back and said that Ask Jeeves did in fact find fault with this particular distribution partner. "We just turned off that partner," she said, adding, "I don't think this is a widespread issue because of the preventive steps we've taken." That said, "this is an imperfect industry... We need to rely on consumer feedback to identify these outlying issues."

There may be some other issues that Jeeves wants to take a closer look at, according to Bambi Francisco's article. She also quotes a New York Deputy Attorney who mentions that Overture was involved in some of the advertising that defendant Intermix is under attack for.

"We're not ruling out in the future going after advertisers, or Overture," said Brookman. Yahoo's Overture accounted for some 10% of Intermix's revenue, said Brookman.

There is quite a lot of money involved in these types of ads, and quite a few folks involved in using this type of advertising. But, if it were to go away tomorrow, there would still be a need to advertise, and there would still be people seeking to advertise. Fine and good. If they can stop having software installed on people's computers without their knowledge and consent, it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Abandoned Products Pages

Why do people abandon ecommerce sites?

That's one of the questions posed in a thread a Cre8asite Forums in the "Measuring Your Success" forum, where I'm an administrator.

The thread, Scary Exit Rates! starts to address those issues. Here's part of a post I made over there:

When someone walks into a grocery store, chances are good that most of the times they will walk out after having purchased something. The same is true with a convenience store.

Conversion rates for online stores tend to be lower, because of a number of factors:

  • It's much easier to go somewhere else.

  • You can bookmark the page, and look elsewhere to make comparisons.

  • You can gather information about a product and buy offline.

  • You need more information before you purchase.

  • The site doesn't show a privacy policy, shipping policy, or feel secure.

  • The design of the site puts you off.

  • You have a hard time comparing similar products on the site.

  • The ordering process is confusing.

  • The site just isn't persuasive or engaging.

  • The pictures displayed aren't showing the product off well, or from enough angles.

  • The right information isn't on the right part of the page.

  • It's difficult to find the products you want because the site search doesn't work well.

  • It's difficult to find what you want because the site navigation doesn't instill confidence in you that you will find exactly what you want.

  • You may prefer to call and place an order.

  • You could be making comparisons between different options for your money, considering different possible ways to spend it, and are just window shopping.

  • Many other reasons.

Why would you leave an online store before finishing a purchase? For more of the discussion, or to participate, visit the forums.