Continuing a tradition we started a few years ago, we have asked two of our standout summer interns to write one of this week’s blog posts. Alexa Coyle and Colleen Ryan were two of over 40 SEI interns contributing on projects, bringing in creative and fresh ideas to our solutions, as well as learning about our business and culture. Alexa and Colleen’s post describes how bringing on an intern can be a win/win for everyone, if given the opportunity to really be involved – really involved.
Think about some of the projects that you want to accomplish but struggle to get started or implemented. Think about an area of your practice that needs a jump start. Hiring an intern for the semester (or the summer) gives you that opportunity while giving them an opportunity, too.
Pop quiz: Which of these apply to you?
- You have projects that you just haven’t had the time to start
- You’ve tried to make progress on a project, but you’re stuck
- You have more turnover than you’d like, and you’re wondering if there’s a problem with your hiring process
- You wish that when you started out, you had someone show you the ropes
If any (or all) of these apply to you and your practice, then hiring an intern may be the perfect solution. We don’t mean someone who will make copies, staple papers together, or get coffee. We mean an intern with whom you can build a relationship, one that will bring fresh ideas, and one who can research and complete meaningful projects for your business.
1. Interns can work on projects that you have been trying to get to for years.
If we had one word to describe interns, it would be eager. We are eager to learn, help you and receive guidance. You know that one project or concept that you’ve had in the back of your mind for years, but never had the time to research? That would be perfect for an intern – s/he can do the research, develop pros and cons and bring a new perspective to the idea. This will free up your time to focus on more pressing matters, like building relationships with your clients or revenue-building activities.
2. Interns bring a fresh perspective.
Interns bring a blank canvas of sorts to your practice. If they are in college, they most likely have not worked for a firm like yours before. They bring an unbiased perspective, with no preconceived notions of how things should be done. If you’re stuck on a task that you can’t seem to figure out, your intern can offer a new idea that you may not have considered before. Depending on you and your firm, the generational difference can also be an advantage here, as a millennial will likely have a different perspective than you.
3. Internships are actually interviews in disguise.
Essentially, an internship is a 10-week job interview. You get to see how this temporary employee works, if his/her personality meshes well with the company, and if s/he has a demeanor that’s a good fit.
If you have a higher turnover than expected in your business, hiring an intern is an opportunity to “test drive” him or her to see if the fit is right for the long term. If they do fit, there may be an option to hire them at the end of the summer (or when they graduate). But if they’re not a fit, it’s a chance to reflect on your own business and interview process to see where there’s room for improvement, to better attract the type of candidates you want.
4. You can be a mentor.
Mentor/mentee relationships are mutually beneficial. It’s a way for an intern to learn and build a relationship with an experienced professional in the field, but also forces you to re-evaluate your business practices, as you have to break them down to the most basic components to get your intern up to speed. So while you are teaching an intern the ropes of the advisory world, you have the opportunity to freshen up on things you may have forgotten or haven’t done in a long time.
The benefits of having an intern are plentiful for both parties: you gain a hardworking, young employee eager for experience; and we gain all the knowledge we can during our time at your firm. Having an intern can help you gain insight into the younger generation, which can go a long way in growing your business.
We have appreciated our time at SEI this summer and are grateful to have been given this opportunity. The knowledge and experiences we have had the last 10 weeks are incomparable to anything we could have learned in the classroom. We hope you will also consider taking on an intern in the future, not only for their benefit, but for yours.