Calling All Interns: What Small Business Owners Are Wanting From You

Calling All Interns: What Small Business Owners Are Wanting From You

By Kendra Holaday

Welcome back for Small Biz Friday everyone! We’ve been on an intern theme the last few weeks and this week we’re wrapping it up. Christy Asper, Owner and Lead Designer for The Ink Cafe, has helped me prepare this week’s post regarding what small business owners want from their interns. Let’s jump right in!

1. Flexibility with Time & Responsibilities – The business owner life is a little different than the corporate world (okay, a lot different!), and hours aren’t as simple as 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. Not only are there clients to serve, events and networking to participating in, and promotion of your business, there is also the life outside of work aspect. Having an intern that is willing to be flexible and maybe switch a meeting from Monday night to Wednesday night, or meet somewhere between meetings instead of the office, is a huge help when there are sick kids, surprise family visits, or whatever else may come up! Flexibility doesn’t only mean hours and schedules though. Having an intern with an open mind and ability to wear multiple hats is also a desire of business owners. If it’s a busy week and you can help out more with social media than usual, do it! If you could pick up items for a new styled shoot after class to help out, do it! Be open minded and know that you don’t always have to stick to only things in your original job description. As other responsibilities and tasks arise you might be asked to do them (or better yet, you could volunteer to do them!)

2. Eagerness to Learn – It isn’t always only about what you know, developing skills is a huge part of internships. While most small business owners want you to have a knowledge in the area that you’re helping them with, there is also a pretty good chance they will be willing to teach you some things, as well. Small business owners don’t want an intern who is stuck in their ways and unwilling to try new things. With technology, social media, new businesses, and so much more, things change at a very fast pace. Just because a social media strategy worked two months ago doesn’t mean it will continue to work forever. Having an intern who is willing to research new approaches and techniques, and is also willing to learn from others, is a huge bonus for small business owners. – It’s not only a benefit to the business either. The more skills and variety of ways to do things that you know the more versatile you are now and when you apply for jobs in the future. Whether it’s a new style of blogging or new shortcuts on your Mac, new skills and tricks are never a bad thing.

3. Being Reliable & Following Through – Earlier we mentioned flexibility of schedules, which is important for both the business owner and the intern, but so is reliability. Be open and honest if you have conflicts, don’t cancel last minute because you are too busy with a group project. Let your boss/business owner know what your conflicts might be and what days and times work best for you to meet or set deadlines. Honesty is the best approach, I promise. This past year I’ve had a very busy schedule and Christy and I have always found a way to make meetings work. (Shoutout to her for being up for 6pm Starbucks meetings and early Sunday mornings.) – The second portion of reliability is to follow through with your tasks and projects. If you think a deadline is going to be a problem, talk to your boss about it, don’t just drop the ball. Same applies to if you don’t understand or need help with a task. If you say you’ll have a blog post done by Wednesday, get it done! If you’re attending an event, launching a social media campaign, designing graphics, or working on any other kind of project, be on time, put together a good product, and follow through with what you say you’re going to do.

A few other characteristics of a good intern, or any type of employee for that matter, that came up in Christy and I’s conversation were having a strong work ethic, good communication, and being friendly to everyone in the business as well as customers. In all of my internships, for both big companies and small businesses, these are important practices to leave a lasting impact on customers and maintain positive relationships with bosses and coworkers for the future.

If you’re a student looking for an internship, look no further! Check out The Ink Cafe’s summer/fall internships  here. Or if you’re a small business owner we’d love to hear if your wants and expectations of interns are the same.

Thanks to Christy for the help on this week’s post and thanks to all of you for reading! – Kendra

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