Interns. Have’em? Then use’em.

May 6, 2020

In his last post, Steven talked about getting the most out of your investors especially during these challenging times. And he was right. So as long as we’re talking about maximizing your assets, let’s look at one of a founder’s most available, untapped resources: the intern.

Now, you could lean into the lazy stereotype and use them as coffee monkeys and have them make a hoop with their arms so you can shoot spitballs off their backboard faces OR you can actually put them to work, manage them properly and possibly mentor your hire of the future.

When interns do some

of the heavy-lifting,

everyone gets lifted.


This, of course, assumes you took the intern hiring process seriously, asked real questions and got yourself some organized, problem-solving self-starters who can really help you drive impact. If you don’t have interns, now is the time because it’s a level playing field hiring-wise. There are no seductive office tours featuring make-your-own sushi stations, artisanal beer gardens and VR arcades. Now, it’s just everyone bathed in terrible, yellow light making their pitch from their living room.

Make a good pitch, get good interns.

Once you got the interns, put them to work. Give them straightforward tasks with specific instructions. Maybe it’s doing industry research or analysis. Set up an environment where it’s okay to both run with an assignment as well as ask questions when necessary.

A great intern can provide the value of a good entry level employee. You just need to manage them correctly. Manage them like you would any direct report. Give them clear instructions and clear feedback, granted, the instruction might be more prescriptive and the feedback more gentle, but watch them, encourage them and keep them on the rails.

And make sure you include them. It’s hard to see the big picture if you’re kept in a corner. Bring them to staff meetings, let them listen to client meetings and then get their feedback. Yes, get their feedback. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes and ears sees and hears fresh things. Really listen to their POV. Maybe they have a kernel of inspiration, maybe it’ll be a teaching moment for them. Either way, they’ll feel respected and involved because part of being included is being heard.  I bet they help your business.

So work’em, manage’em, include’em. Nurture the next generation because they might just be YOUR next generation. Mold them into the homegrown, entry level employee you want and then maybe you won’t have to mold a new entry level employee later.

Interns. They’re not just for coffee anymore.