First off, let me clarify that I am an intern here at L+L Printers. I guess that makes me a bit biased in terms of the value that I place on internships themselves, but it also gives me a unique perspective. After all, you have to know that almost everything else you’ve heard about hiring interns was probably from the company, and not the intern themselves.
So far you might be thinking of all the costs and time spent on an intern. There’s payroll (if they’re getting paid), probably a desk which includes phone and email set-up, time spent training them, time spent organizing what they’ll actually be doing, not to mention helping them learn everybody’s names (trust me, it takes a little while). And while it may seem like a lot of trouble in return for very little ROI you can touch or see, there are more ways than one in which hiring an intern will ultimately help your business succeed.
And while there are plenty of blogs and articles out there outlining many of the benefits of hiring interns (like this one), I’m here to touch on that from the other side of the deal, and with a bit of the flavor I’ve found here at L+L Printers as well.
It Makes (Re)hiring Easy
Hiring industry-ready professionals takes time, they’re more expensive, and odds are, they’ll be a bit more set in their ways so it may take some time for them to adjust to your company. Here in the print industry this is especially true, as the average age of industry professionals moves closer and closer to retirement. Established potential employees with the right skills are hard to find, ones that will actually put in the effort you’re looking for are harder, and ones that do both and fit in snugly within your company culture are even harder. Internships on the other hand, are great transitional periods for both parties. Your intern should be comfortable, but doesn’t necessarily have to uproot their entire life in order to make it work at your company.
Internships are like test drives, you want to know if what you’re getting is a good fit before you buy, right? So do we as interns. I’ve talked to a lot of people about workplace environment (one of those people is my mom), and every single person who’s been in the workforce for any amount of time can tell you that who you work with and work for can make or break a career. After all, odds are that you might be spending more time with these people than some members of your family. So you might as well get along with them.
*Spoiler Alert: The people at L+L are pretty awesome*
They Can Focus On a Specific Task
Working at any company, you’ll probably know that it’s often hard to get anyone to do anything outside of their designated responsibilities. If you don’t assign anyone to making sure the snack bar gets refilled, then you’ll probably find that your snack bar is going to stay pretty empty.
It’s the same with any other task. While it’s true that we interns can certainly be used for picking up those heavy boxes with our unencumbered backs and knees, it’s a better use of both parties’ time to work on a project.
In the case of L+L Printers, our iLuvTrees website (L+L’s green initiative, see https://www.iluvtrees.org/ for more information) had been in need of an update for some time. It’s exactly the sort of thing that would be difficult for someone else, between answering emails and managing projects, but was perfect for me. I didn’t necessarily need any knowledge of how L+L worked internally to do so, I was simply given the tools I needed for success, and with a little web knowledge and creativity, I made it happen during my first week here.
Another project I want to point out specifically for an example, is L+L Printers’ transition from their previous CRM to HubSpot. There were some critical usability issues present with the current system, so management looked to me to help research CRM options and to help with the onboarding. I got the chance to brush up on my Excel skills (for the data hygiene needed for import) as well as the chance to learn new software, and L+L now has a shiny new CRM to better manage not only how we manage our clients and potential customers, but also how we market to them.
By the way, HubSpot has some pretty cool features, if you’re looking for a CRM that does pretty much everything you need for free, check it out here.
Interns are an Extra Flexible Set of Hands
In my internship here, I’ve have had the opportunity to both work on my own projects (the HubSpot onboarding and iLuvTrees Website update) as well as customer print projects. I started this internship with the intention of learning more about Project Management, and in my time here I’ve learned a lot through the many jobs I’ve worked on involving major clients (with my coworkers to help me along the way of course). And while I’ve spent a lot of that time early in the learning process, it’s worked well for both L+L and myself.
As it turned out, a few of the Project Managers ended up taking vacations or days off due to personal reasons, so I was able to help offset some of the workload the remaining Project Managers had to handle. I additionally helped with some mailing projects in the bindery, as well as shadowing other employees in the fulfillment, prepress, and mailing departments.
The Take Away
At the end of the day, the biggest thing to take away from what I’ve said here is that internships are not simply a one-sided experience, it’s a chance for learning and growth from both parties.
Image courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash