5 Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Use Interns


by Kendra Holaday

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It’s Small Biz Friday again! Where does the time go?! Last week we talked about what interns want from internships, and next week we’ll talk about what business owners want from interns, but this week we’re going to stick with the theme and talk about tasks for interns.

P.S. If you’re sending one on a coffee run, I’ll take a vanilla latte. 😉

I think by 2017 we all know that the role of an intern has shifted from coffee and laundry grabber to someone who could be as valuable to your business as a full-time employee. (Yes, I know I made that reference above, but I just really like coffee.) In one of my own internship experiences I have learned multiple roles, whereas some of the full-time staff serve in almost exclusively a single role. I’m not saying I’m more valuable by any means, but it’s just an example of how interns can take on any and all roles you are comfortable with giving them. Below are some examples of intern tasks that you may not have thought about yet!.

1. Committee Member – Whether this is within your own office or a committee you are working on with others, interns can offer a fresh perspective on things. They may be from a different part of the country, generation, academic background, on and on.. that causes them to think differently or have different ideas than you. Worst case, they benefit from serving on a committee and learning from others that are a part of this group.

2. Errand Runner – No, I’m not referencing the coffee and laundry from above, at least not 100% of the time! Interns sometimes do draw the short straw, but errands don’t have to be a negative thing. Maybe you need to run to the store and pick up supplies for a photo shoot, let the intern grab the stuff you need with a little freedom to pick up things they think would be good additions. Get what you need, but add a little fun and ability to be creative for them as well.

3. Social Media Manager – I get the hesitation, once something is on the Internet, it’s there forever. Screenshots don’t lie, right? But don’t let that scare you from handing over the reins! There are plenty of apps where you can plan social media before actually posting it, or a simple Word document with the captions and wording planned out will suffice. At the very least you can let them manage comments, likes, and follows so that you can have a few hours a week back.

4. Blogger – Shoutout to Christy for letting Olivia and I take on this role with The Ink Cafe! It’s a good way for us to gain experience with blogging and researching what we’re talking about, plus it’s another way to post on the website and social media. See if your interns have any interest in blogging and figure out if it would work for your business. The more you post and the more consistently you post, the more it helps your SEO and traffic.

5. Project Leader – Depending on your business, this may be similar to the committee member at number one, but I think they deserve to be mentioned separately. In every internship role I’ve held I have had a great relationship with my boss/bosses, which has been really helpful for myself and for them. Because I’ve had such great relationships I’ve felt more comfortable and able to ask about new projects or give ideas. It might take a little extra time on the boss/business owner’s part, but if you set aside some time and talk to your interns, ask if they have ideas or thoughts about your business, a project might come from it. Why not let them take a lead (reporting to you of course!) and see where it goes! Have you wanted to create a photo gallery on your website? Create new connections with a university or business? Start a blog (see #4!)? Maybe the intern could help you and lead these projects, or have a project idea of their own.

Thanks for stopping by for Small Biz Friday y’all! – Kendra

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