In a place like Makerversity, where young businesses are growing and workload is continuously changing, many of our members recruit interns, temps and freelancers. We take a quick look at what we feel is best practice for both the intern and your company.
Why take on an intern?
As a small business, taking on an intern can be a great way to understand what skills you are looking for.
- Be a good short term resource for new projects
- Provide fresh insights and skills
- Be a great addition to your team
- Offer experience and knowledge about all aspects of the business
- Support them with training in areas they want to develop
- Teach them the ‘softer’ side of a working environment
Internships also give many people highly valued first hand experience. If someone is looking to change track, or interested in seeing how they can use their skills in another sector, internships can be incredibly useful tasters.
Are unpaid internships OK?
So lets talk about our views on internships and pay. We know (and feel strongly) that nobody should work for free. Being an intern does not mean you should work for nothing just so you can get into an industry.
There, that’s our stance. We understand that small businesses may struggle to take on employees but if you expect someone to commit to set hours and carry out work that supports your business, you need to pay them.
For one, if you offer unpaid internships, you are really narrowing down your demographic as only few can afford to take on those positions. People from privileged families gain the most from unpaid positions and those from less privileged backgrounds miss out on opportunities and experience.
Tim is currently interning with one of our members, Candy Mechanics. We spoke to him about why he took on the internship, what he thinks works and what doesn’t.
“The best thing about working with Candy Mechanics at Makerversity has been the willingness of everyone to give up their time to lend a hand – from teaching us how to use 3D modelling software to helping us out with photoshoots. I love the working environment and that there are so many different things going on at one time. And Sam also has been making me lunch everyday.”
Over the last two weeks, Tim has been designing, prototyping and refining packaging ideas. This involved an introduction into a few new processes and programs that he wasn’t very familiar with or hadn’t used at all – CNC milling, vacuum forming, learning how to use Fusion 360, Cura and Meshmixer software.
Tim’s advice for someone taking on an intern: “It’s been great working as a team rather than being set a task and being given 2 weeks to complete it. Interns are there to learn – a good amount of contact time with your intern, just to touch base, is beneficial for everyone.”
Key things you should consider when hiring an intern:
- Reciprocal relationships
Ensure that the relationship works both ways. If they interested in learning about how to use photoshop, Autodesk or interested in networking, take the time to do those things with them.
- Clearly defining the job role
Include pay, hours and contract length. Discuss their learning objectives and specify the expectations. Think about giving them a project to own, perhaps something that is not critical to business but fits their skills and areas they are interested in developing. This will give them the best chance to hit the ground running.
- Steering clear of menial tasks
Don’t waste an opportunity on to see where their strengths are! A variety tasks will enable your intern to understand the bigger picture of the business, keep them engaged with the projects and show you what their capable of.
- Day to day management
Have regular catch ups to ensure you are both gaining from the opportunity. Keep honest and open communication. Explain why what they are doing matters and give them to opportunity to openly talk about what is and isn’t working for both of you. Don’t throw them in at the deep end without any support.
If you’re interested in contacting our members about potential placements, their information can be found here.
We work with people all of ages, at various points of their careers. You may also find the Prince’s Trust article interesting.