Tips for Finding the Right Intern for Your Business

Most small business owners could benefit from hiring an Intern from the University of Mary Washington.  Could you? We interviewed two Eagle Works residents to find out more from their experience in hiring a UMW intern.

Angie: How did you hire your intern? Did you find him/her on Handshake or through a campus connection?

Mike: We used the Handshake Platform to announce our position(s) and communication with those interested.  The goal was to find the best interns interested in our positions and create a real world interview process for their training and education. We conducted several interviews, using MS Teams/Zoom, and face to face when practical.

Barbara: I reached out to the EagleWorks program manager for recommendations, she connected me with someone who was taking her StartupUMW business program. I interviewed her, turns out she was at the time interested in my field, so she understood the support I was looking for.

Angie: What experience did you provide for the intern to help him/her take their next steps after college?

Mike: Our interns worked on real world business problems, we wanted to make the work as meaningful as possible to enable them to use this experience to both enhance their academics and professional career aspirations. They worked on an array of business tasks/projects. These included: Industry strategic level research and impacts on our market, identifying new potential markets and eroding markets due to emerging technologies, policy & regulation, and consumer demand, SWOT analysis, market research using industry software tools, building of applications using MS excel, robot process automation (such as Power BI), and other O365 applications.  We also allowed them to take courses, train and in some instances receive various business and technical certifications (Excel, Power Point, Robotics Process Automation etc..)

Barbara: An understanding of their leadership and communication strengths (provided through assessments) that they could use in the workplace and with teams.

Angie: What recommendations would you make to other small business owners that are interested in hiring an intern?

Mike: Write a job description for the intern(s), identify some outcomes you expect to see, interview them to ensure they can meet your expectations, work around their academic schedule, be patient and provide a training, coaching / mentoring type relationship.

Barbara: Before the hire: In interview, be clear on specific outcomes/tasks you’re looking for. After the hire: Have an NDA if necessary. Have an initial intake to go over mission/vision of business, then go into tasks. Understand there is a learning curve – take time up front to guide them, let them ask questions. Have an accountability process, clear-open communication, but don’t micromanage. Encourage development of skills (i.e. identify strengths/leadership). On critical tasks help them understand the ‘why’. Take a vested interested in them, build a rapport and connection. Write them a letter of recommendation. Provide necessary feedback.

If you are interested in learning more about hiring an intern for your small business the UMW SBDC can help with free business consulting. If you already have a business consultant email them directly to schedule an appointment. If you have never met with a UMW SBDC consultant, please complete a Request for Consulting form. Consulting services are free and confidential.