I started out in my current job as an Intern, and my team has just said goodbye to an intern who was with us for the last 6 months, so it seemed a great time to share my thoughts on interns.
1. It’s great experience for the Intern
The first point is the most obvious so I won’t say much. Getting hands on experience to try a new skill is a really effective and efficient way to learn. It takes initiative and curiosity from the Intern, but seeing what real work looks like, and trying it out for themselves is something that can’t be taught from a book.
2. It challenges the rest of the team
As Katrina Clokie states in her blog (http://katrinatester.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/why-you-should-hire-junior-testers.html) the junior (or intern in this case) can push the rest of the team by making them think hard about how to explain the work they do, how they do it and why they do it that way. You really need to understand something to be able to teach someone else so it forces the rest of the team to strengthen their knowledge as they attempt to teach it to the Intern.
Another benefit is in answering the ‘Why do we do it that way?’ question, other team members might see on retrospect that the process they have been using could be improved.
There will obviously be time taken out from the job to train the Intern, but this growth of knowledge through explaining and the chance to rethink current processes makes up for this.
3. You create a Spokesperson
If you make sure to treat your Intern well in the variety and importance of work given, and workplace benefits, then they will speak well about your company to others. They may interact with people who are doing internships at other companies or are in their class and you will gain some very useful word of mouth marketing of what it’s like to work at your company and possibly attract future employees. (The Intern may also turn into a future employee!)
4. They bring fresh ideas
The Intern is usually new to the profession and is often coming off or currently completing studies. This means they have minimal pre-conceptions about how things should be done from being in the field and what tools should be used. They might also be aware of new tools and technologies from their studies or from other fields they are coming from. These factors combined could see for an innovative approach to problems being faced in your company that the rest of the team hadn’t thought of.
What do you think?
Have you had good or bad experiences with hiring Interns? What makes a good/bad intern and how do you hire the right type to start with? Do you like the idea of Internships or are you against it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!