Whether to take an intern can be a tough decision for a startup, and when we heard that TechHub members Modaventure were lucky/brilliant enough to win a competition run by Queen Mary University to have a 3 month intern position paid for, we decided to ask their Founder Simon Bichara a bit about what drove them to apply...
Why are interns important to startups?
I think there are a couple of reasons. First - talent. Interns are a great way to meet smashing, talented recently graduated (or about to graduate) people, who can bring important new skills to the party. Doing in internship is a great way for both sides to find out if they work well together and should make the relationship longer term.
Secondly - ideas. In an inventive business like ours, we're constantly searching for new angles on what we do. Bringing an intern gives us access to different ways of attacking our problems that we haven't thought of - that might make things better, faster, or cheaper!
What would you suggest startups think carefully about, when looking to hire an intern?
Make sure that you really have the need and the capacity. Interns aren't a source of cheap, general labour. You want to have a very specific thing-for-them-to-do, otherwise you'll find it hard to engage them. And because they need a lot of support, you need to have the organisational capacity to give that support to them - or they will flounder.
What do you think interns gain from working with startups?
Loads! Most importantly - real commercial experience. Doing a "proper" job which requires working discipline is often new. But startups also allow interns to get access to the whole gamut of work - they can see a much broader range of things than they would at a larger firm which would tend to put them onto a single task and give them a limited view.
Have you ever been an intern and what did you gain from it?
No, but I'd have loved to have been. Instead, I spent my summers at university working as a PA/ secretary (yes really) to save up money to buy my first car - a bright yellow MG midget.
What would you suggest interns think carefully about?!?
Find a firm that has thought about you! Make sure they have something specific for you to do - don't fall for vaguely worded promises. Make sure they know you'll need support. But also be prepared yourself - to get the most from an internship you need to work hard and smart. You need to show your value to the organisation, but you're inexperienced, so you need to put in the hours to get yourself up the learning curve and demonstrate your enthusiasm. Be curious, ask lots of questions. And make damn sure that whatever the task you're given is, that you deliver it, and do it well.
Read the full details of their win here