By Julia DiNardo of Fashion Pulse Daily
I think we can all agree that there’s an overwhelming amount of “to dos” when it comes to running a blog. With so much to do and keep up with, wouldn’t it be totally ideal if we could just clone ourselves? Since I don’t think that’s an option anytime soon, taking on an intern might seem like the perfect win-win situation.
With my blog, I’ve had 12 interns, with experiences that have been completely amazing and unbelievably helpful. Although bringing on additional help can be a huge coup, there are some elements to consider and tools to have in place so that you can also nurture your intern’s experience and career interests.
What Value Can You Provide For an Intern/Internship?
It seems like a no-brainer, but as much as it may very well be true that any intern would be lucky to work for you, you also have to sell the concept of why your site, and you in particular, is something they should invest their time, and possibly school credit, in.
Are you an amazing writer and could really guide a student to improve his/her work and get published clips? Could you work your rolodex for them to help them get a job? Are you an SEO and social media maven and could show them how to hone in these skills?
If you can answer a resounding “yes!” to these questions, that may relate to a student’s degree major or interests, then put a check next to this category
Are You Patient, and Do You Like to Teach Others?
This is really important to consider, as an internship, at its core, should be about learning, so if you won’t like to explain how to use the blog’s Pinterest board or Instagram accounts or send back constructive criticism after a post has been written, then maybe you should consider if there is a more independent approach that may work for you that would foster a student’s growth as well as help you with some site-related needs.
I have created a guide, that has everything an intern would need to know, from account info to a writing style guide and protocol for attending an event or fashion shows. At the end of each semester I like the current interns to add anything they think can be helpful for the future intern(s). I send this initially, and then usually have two training & q&a sessions with the new intern, and if available, the previous semester’s intern also meets him/her to field any questions that he or she may feel more comfortable asking another peer instead of their new internship supervisor.
Can You Give Some Quality Face Time to an Intern?
Since this is an online business, are in-person meetings really necessary? I could probably get away without seeing my intern an entire semester and send them writing assignments via email, however, I think that face –to-face time is a valuable way to bring the experience full circle as well as to emphasize how much you are invested in, and thankful that this person is helping you and your site.
Meeting for coffee or lunch (and picking up the tab) is an informal and inexpensive way to check in and see how the internship is going, as well as discover what your intern might like to help you with in the coming months. I take interns with me to events so that they can see how I interact with publicists, product, and my peers, and hopefully emulate that when I send them to cover on their own.
Can You Offer Some Sort of Payment?
I have found that payment, be it a small stipend or an hourly rate, is certainly a strong incentive for students to full-heartedly immerse themselves in an internship, and also provides a token of appreciation for their time. I would say this is unfortunately the exception, rather than the rule when it comes to fashion or journalism-related internships, despite more stringent regulation that has arisen in recent years due to interns compensating for the lack of full-time employees, violating minimum wage laws. Condé Nast now requires that a student cannot become an intern at their company unless they receive school credit for it, with many other businesses following this model.
You can find out more about The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) here, which includes six criteria items that determine under which circumstances it’s legal to not compensate an intern, to make sure you are complying with what is in the intern’s most protected interest.
After reading this article, do you still feel ready to take on an intern?