Interns can be valuable creative contributors and support personnel, as well as offering the opportunity for some word-of-mouth recruiting. So if you have a corner in which to tuck an extra workstation, investigate intern programs at local art and business schools.
We discussed internships in outline form in Recruiting Drive I: Internships and Networking. Here are a few other things to think about as you initiate your own program.
Responsibilities – In addition to a job description, make a list of intern responsibilities. Also have a list of the agency’s responsibilities to the intern. Make all agency staff aware that they are part of making the internship a rewarding experience for both parties.
Rules and Regulations – Prepare an abbreviated “employee policies” document detailing behavior, dress code and other issues the intern may need to be aware of. Also, prepare an intern non-circumvention contract, restricting the intern from using agency clients and contacts to compete with the agency.
Involvement, Work Areas and Activities – Determine beforehand where the intern will work, what level of involvement they will have (especially important if you deal with any confidential client materials), and what activities they may be allowed to participate in.
Intern Portfolios – Most interns, especially creatives, expect to gain a portfolio piece or project samples from the internship. It’s a nice touch to offer a review or even assistance with assembling the person’s portfolio. Plan one project that the intern can produce as a portfolio piece.
Billing Time – Pay interns at minimum wage level if you can. Plan on billing intern time at a low hourly rate ($25 to $30) an hour. If the intern proves to be exceptional, you can always bump up their rate accordingly.
Supervision – Select the intern supervisor carefully. This person must be willing to mentor—and be good at it! The intern’s direct supervisor will make the greatest impression on the intern, so choose wisely. In our agency days, we hired several people we first worked with as interns. This is a terrific way to acquire new personnel you know will be a good fit for your agency.