Having an intern or two is a great way to get more done inside your startup and due to the fact that career service departments push college students to secure as many internships as possible, during their collegiate career, there is a surplus of talented college students floating around.
Managing Interns Inside Your Startup
The main complaint I hear from startups founders, regarding interns, is that they have to spend way too much time managing them, forcing them to question if interns were worth the hassle.
To address this concern, you must streamline the process and clearly set expectations. Note: Depending on where you are in the startup process, you might need to modify my strategy to better fit your needs. Currently, I am in the building process with GiveYear, which requires a lot of research and development.
How To Manage Interns Inside Your Startup
Two Google Docs + One Day A Week — Simple enough?
Google Doc #1
Anytime I think of an item that needs to be done and I think an intern could do, I jot it down into Google Doc #1.
Google Doc #2
Google Doc #2 is for all the assignments and completed work.
Inside Google Doc #2 I will explain the task at hand and provide links to any resources I think would prove valuable. The most crucial piece of the task explanation, that is often overlooked, is the output. Be clear with regards to what you expect the output of the task to be. For instance, if it’s a research project ask for a one page summary on a topic and a list of relevant links they found while compiling the summary. Again, make sure they keep all their completed work in Google Doc #2.
Make it clear to your intern that you don’t want them to struggle on the assignments and that if they ever have any questions, to send you an email.
One Day A Week
I have my interns come in one day a week for 2 to 3 office hours. Every time they come in the expectation is that they completed their last assignments (stored in Google Doc #2) and that they are ready to get started on 2-3 new assignments. If they are complete their new assignments during their office hours, I assign them 1-2 new assignments for homework, due by our next meeting.
It’s clear interns seek flexibility in their schedule, while at the same time seeking valuable resume-building experience. In the model, not only are the wants/needs of the intern met, but they are also met from the startups point of view. You, as a startup founder, are able to get things done in an effective manner, while avoiding all the common complaints associated with managing an intern.