Hiring Interns: The Differences Between Getting a Lazy Frat Bro and an Ambitious Young Professional

If you are a small business looking to hire an intern for the first time, you probably have many reservations and questions regarding the search, hiring, and management process. While there are plenty of success stories floating around, it’s hard not to think about the countless horror tales you’ve no-doubt also heard. Don’t fear, though! With the right amount of research, a detailed plan of attack, and plenty of persistence, you can make hiring an intern an advantageous business move.


3 Reasons for Hiring a Marketing Intern

Hiring an intern is an extremely cost-effective way to improve productivity and impart some wisdom on the next generation of business leaders. In other words, you can get some cheap labor while feeling good about it. But cheap labor can come at a cost if you simply look at it as discounted work. Instead, you need to find the value in hiring a marketing intern. Here are three:

  • Refreshing energy. Take a step back from the actual day-to-day business tasks and look at your company from an emotional point of view. Are people ambitious, energetic and enthusiastic about coming to work every day? If they are, great! If not, consider what a young intern could do for your office. A good intern will be thrilled at the opportunity and bring some refreshing energy to the office.
  • Free advertising. In addition to the internal benefits, there are also external opportunities waiting. Interns who have a positive experience working at your company are great sources of word-of-mouth advertising. A satisfied intern will tell their friends, professors, and family members about your company’s greatness. Your brand immediately gains points!
  • Future hiring. The best case scenario for an internship is that the intern helps you, you impart wisdom, and the relationship eventually continues in full time employment. In this case, the internship served as a training mechanism for developing a future employee. Once hired, this employee requires less of a learning curve and can immediately make a difference.

How to Find a Killer Intern

Hiring the right intern depends on your specific situation and goals. Are you looking for someone who can perform at a high level or a green intern you can teach? You’ll need to think about the specifics before proceeding too far.

Here are a few tips for hiring a top-notch intern:

  • Utilize video interviewing. Thanks to applications like Skype, video chatting has become an excellent alternative to expensive, cross-country interviews. Utilizing video resources in the first round of interviews to save lots of resources on your end, and reach a larger group of applicants.
  • Let people find you. You will quickly find that the best applicants are those who find you, not the other way around. Interns who seek out your company, contact you, and are persistent about getting an opportunity are almost always the best. They have enthusiasm and a genuine interest.
  • Contact universities. Universities and colleges are usually happy to develop relationships with companies looking to hire interns. They want to provide students with opportunities and see it as a way to showcase their talent pool.

What to Look for in an Intern

So now you know a few tricks for finding qualified interns, but what do you look for? Here are some things that should be present right from the start:

  • Good communication. Is the applicant personable? When interviewing a potential intern, try to picture him or her in your office environment. How will they fit in? Look for someone with good communication skills and an ability to interact when searching for the best intern.
  • Writing skills. For some odd reason, writing samples are usually left off internship applications. But why? If you are hiring a marketing intern, it would only make sense that you evaluate his or her writing skills. After all, interns are perfect for producing content like blog posts, social media blurbs, newsletter articles, and press releases.
  • Experience. While prior experience is not a necessity, it is certainly an advantage. If the applicant has experience with a similar position, it shows work ethic and will mean less of a learning curve.

How to Get the Most out of Your Intern

While you can do everything right leading up to the hiring, it can all go to waste without the right management practices in place. Make sure you:

  • Make interns feel important. One of the worst mistakes is making interns feel unimportant. When they don’t feel valued, they tend to not work as hard and typically don’t care about results.
  • Set tangible goals. Interns usually need to be guided. They are used to structured environments and excel when they are required to meet hourly, daily, or weekly goals.
  • Pay! Yes, I know, one of the most attractive parts about internships, from an employer’s point of view, is the ability to get free labor. While this is tempting, you will probably discover more productivity from an intern with paid incentives. If you can’t afford to pay a salary or hourly rate, provide bonuses and commissions based on performance.

Mistakes to Avoid


While the above is a best case scenario situation, it would be foolish not to mention the difficulties involved in the hiring process. If you aren’t careful, your attempt to hire an ambitious young professional may result in acquiring a lazy frat bro with wandering eyes and little-to-no work ethic. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when looking for an intern:

  • Not researching. Before hiring, research all potential applicants. This includes social media checks, background checks, and references. These sources will tell you things the interview process did not.
  • One round of interviews. Don’t ever hire someone after one interview; no matter how qualified or perfect they may seem! You need to meet with potential hires 2–4 times before hiring, with each being in a different setting. An example would be a video interview, in-person interview, tour of the office, and casual lunch meeting.
  • Secluding interns. If you have a group of interns, resist the temptation to corner them away in their own intern department. This provides too much temptation for slacking off and defeats the purpose of immersing interns in the culture of the workplace.

Don’t miss out on the fruitful relationships that interns can provide. Follow this advice, talk with your peers, and dive in. With careful attention to detail, the positives will almost always outweigh the negatives.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard regarding hiring interns?

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Schuyler Richardson

Schuyler was born and raised in Marietta, GA and attended college at the University of South Carolina, where he received a degree in Marketing and Management. He has always enjoyed writing and is now happy to do it professionally. Some of Schuyler’s previous job titles include landscaper, retail sales associate, and marketing intern in a Division I college athletic department. Outside of work, Schuyler has a wide range of hobbies and interests. He is a self-taught guitar player, novice woodworker, and avid sports fan. You can often find him watching his favorite teams: the Atlanta Braves and South Carolina Gamecocks. Additionally, Schuyler lives for the fall, because it means two things: good weather and college football.

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