For a start-up to succeed, a good team is mandatory. Capable team members are priceless (read very pricey!). You need not read ahead if you have enough money. But for the start-ups I know (and also my own start-up), a good team without money is a conundrum. Hiring the right interns in the only solution I have found during my two-year entrepreneurial journey.
I have worked with 15 interns; have hired six more for the summer. These interns have performed all the tasks possible like content development, graphics designing, web development, operations, sales and marketing and have worked part time/full time, remote/ from Pune, from home/in office.
My learnings along the way are,
- They are waiting for you: There are enough good interns out there; you just need to reach out through right channels. I have used online platforms like Internshala, Letsintern and also have taken part in offline intern fairs organised by colleges.
- You get what you ask for: I once committed a mistake of hiring a dumb person, because I had set my expectations very low based on the difficulty of the tasks at hand.
- They have nothing to show on their resumes: My best interns have failed in their exams. They are rebels, outclassed by our education system and so are perfect as start-up interns.
- Search for their souls: Reject applicants who are interning for a certificate, money and work experience. The best ones are thirsty for knowledge and hungry for work.
- Test them thoroughly: I test their inherent intelligence with hard assignments and grilling interview questions and also test their commitment through the initial 1-week probation period. The interns who survive this are right for the part.
If you get the right people as interns then,
- They will work hard: Even if it means standing under scorching sun and selling to unknown people at your stall
- They will bring fresh ideas: Some of the best ideas which gave boost in WordsMaya sales have come from interns
- They will be with you longer: WordsMaya’s most creative writer interned for one year from Varanasi and is joining WordsMaya full time after her final exams.
But hold on,
- Know their limits: They are still young, immature and confused. You should know how to guide them, monitor them and get the work done. If they were so good with limitless potential they wouldn’t be interning with you.
- Put some restrictions: They thrive under freedom and autonomy. Little flexibility in timings and chatting on WhatsApp should be allowed, but you should set the discipline and boundaries.
If you have more questions related to the intern-stellar team I formed at WordsMaya, I would be happy to answer to your comments below.