Tips for Hiring Interns

I’ve worked for myself for almost three years now and a lot of my friends have as well. Adam and I started The Wonder Jam back in 2013 and pretty consistently have had interns every spring, summer and fall. They have never been virtual, always in-person. Just recently we brought on an admin assistant/studio manager/project manager hybrid!

As our business (and my fellow bosses’) grows, I wanted to share some tips on hiring and then onboarding people onto your team:

Be really clear about what you need + what they want

When you’re bringing on an intern (disclaimer: we pay our interns a monthly stipend of $200) or anyone in a part-time/assistant capacity, be really clear about what you want them to do. We believe that interns should LEARN and do cool stuff. Not just get coffee. We think that they should gain experience by creating work (designing, photographing + writing) based on real client needs. Our clients don’t always see the work they’re creating, but our interns are able to create work with substance.

Communicate how to communicate

We try to keep our team out of their inbox. We check our email about 3 times a day and can’t depend on emails to communicate small needs or tasks. We also respect our interns/contractors time and don’t feel like it’s appropriate to text them if we need something. It’s okay to shut off everything when you’re off work. Texting takes it too far and can cause anxiety or stress for everyone.

We use Basecamp and Slack to communicate internally. Here’s how we use them:

  • Basecamp: We use Basecamp to keep our projects in order. We take info we receive via email and organize it by project. Tasks, documents, notes and logins are all stored here.
  • Slack: We use Slack for conversation! It’s an internal chat system (actually, it can be opened up to clients or a community) and we use it to ask for things we need or walk through a project. It’s great because you can talk to one single person as a direct message or create groups of people.

Be specific with deadlines

We have quick turnarounds with our clients and so I make it clear that we aim for faster deadlines. Meeting deadlines is really important in whatever industry you work. Instead of assigning projects or tasks and leaving them alone, I try to say things like “We’ll review this at 2pm” or “Let’s aim to have this done by next Monday.” An intern doesn’t have the ability to see the big picture and know how quickly things move in your business.

Ask them for feedback

Whether it’s about a project with your client or how their time has been, it’s important to give them a voice. Preparing them for future jobs or running their own business is a big responsibility. You rarely do well in any position if you don’t have practice speaking in front of others or sharing what you think!


Any advice for those of us who have interns? Did you have an amazing internship? Why?

July 28, 2015