By Karl L. Hughes, Job Brander
When you’re running a small business, it’s unlikely that the first thing you will spend your money on is marketing. The process of branding, building a following on social networks, maintaining an email list, and creating high quality content online can be time-consuming and difficult to do well. It’s no surprise that most businesses spend less than four percent of their sales on marketing efforts.
That said, hiring an intern could be a great way to experiment with marketing without committing to bringing on a full-time employee just yet. You may find that your intern is a great fit, helps get your marketing efforts off the ground, and contributes to other parts of the business as well. But, before you get excited about your new super-intern, there are a few things you should consider first:
1. Do you have time for an intern?
Yes, hiring an intern will take time. Remember, this is someone who is fresh out of the classroom. He probably won’t have much practical knowledge about crafting or carrying out a marketing strategy and he definitely won’t have a clue how your company operates. Someone at your company is going to have to invest their valuable time training and evaluating your intern in order for this to be a worthwhile experience.
2. Do you have the cash to pay for an intern?
While it’s certainly possible to find someone who is willing to work as an unpaid marketing intern, you’ll get much more out someone if you can offer them some form of compensation. The average Freshman marketing intern makes $13.32 per hour, and in order to get the best, you’re probably going to have to pay like the best. You may also want to check with a nearby college’s marketing department and see if they offer credit to their students in internships.
3. Have you planned out exactly what your intern will do?
The reason many internships are unfruitful is that the employer does not have any clue what the intern will be doing. If you don’t have someone in your organization who has successfully carried out the task that you will be giving to your intern, you should seriously reconsider handing it off to someone as inexperienced as your intern. A lot of companies make the mistake of handing all their social media marketing off to an intern, and that rarely goes well.
4. Do you have measurable and meaningful goals for your intern?
Don’t hire someone working on a college degree to make your copies and run errands. There are services that will take care of this for you. Make sure that you’ve set up goals and milestones for your marketing intern. After all, the completion of goals is one of the first things that future employers will look for on your intern’s resume.
Bringing on an intern to help you out with your small business’ marketing efforts doesn’t have to be a headache, but you do have to be prepared. A bad internship experience will stick with the intern and in turn, your company. Make your expectations clear and obtainable, and don’t forget to treat your interns like a valuable part of your team.
Karl L. Hughes is a technology entrepreneur in online publishing. He is the founder of Job Brander, a website devoted to helping entry level marketing professionals find the best jobs and internships possible. He can be reached via email, Twitter, or Google+ anytime.