Thursday, June 24th, 2010
It was great to see AOL Small Businesss and its top flight roster of board members (all entrepreneurs and/or experts in entrepreneurship) weigh in on the recent dialogue about the changing definition of an internship. As we’ve been noting in our recent blog posts, the hiring landscape looks different in the world of growing businesses. Entrepreneurial organizations, including the most well-funded and profitable companies out there, require a roll-up-your-sleeves mentality from EVERYONE. It’s not about the hours clocked in, but the output delivered. An entrepreneur’s most valuable resource is time, so the incremental value from anyone brought on board must well exceed the time it takes to train and manage.
So how do interns fit into the picture?
Well, as Rod Kurtz from AOL Small Biz notes, “They can be especially important for smaller, fast-growing companies, which are usually strapped for resources and hesitant to make a lot of full-time hires early on.“ And smaller organizations have an advantage over big business when it comes to interns. Kurtz points out that while interns can often become gofers at big organizations, in smaller companies, they will have more of a chance to get hands-on experience. Nevertheless, it’s important for entrepreneurs to create an internship program, as simple as it may be, that “brings out the best in who you hire.“ We couldn’t agree more.
And it looks like we’re not alone. What did some of the other experts have to say? Read more of the article here.
So, job-seekers, if you’re looking to intern with an entrepreneur, here are some takeaways:
Be proactive in your job search.
Just because an entrepreneur isn’t actively seeking an intern doesn’t mean they can’t be convinced. Find the startup(s) that you want to work for, actively reach out, and offer to intern for them. Tell them that while you may not have the skills for that full-time job right, you’d appreciate the opportunity to be involved with the company in whatever form. If they don’t have a formal internship program, come right back with a brief outline of an internship that you think would add value to the company. If nothing else, you’re establishing a relationship.
Demonstrate that you can get up to speed quickly.
Clearly, time is of the essence to these folks. If they’re going to take you on, the last thing they want to worry about is spending hours educating you on the company and the space. Come to the interview with a solid knowledge base of the company, its competitors, and its goals. Come to the first day of work with an even further knowledge of the founders and other key employees, its history, the industry’s history, the product and the marketing strategy.
You might have to manage yourself a bit.
They’re busy. You may have to take the initiative to schedule time with them for feedback, guidance and check-ins. But you also need to read their body language, and if they simply do not appear to have as much time for you as you would like, annoying them won’t help. So make lists of your goals and achievements, and update your boss weekly. Chances are, eventually s/he will see that participating in your development will benefit the company too.
Suggest easy-to-use tools for project management.
Such tools can be everything from a super simple ta-da list, to Google Docs/Calendars to the more pricey but more involved Basecamp. These all require upkeep though, so you should be responsible for keeping them up to date.