How To Manage (& Find) Unpaid Interns As A Freelancer

I’m just wrapping up my first week with my new fall interns! And I’m exhausted haha. I now have 2 interns from the fall plus my part-time assistant Haley who was my intern this summer. While I’m excited to have a growing team, managing 3 people at once (2 of which had to be taught a lot) is very tiring haha. Managing interns as a freelancer can feel weird,  but I have to remember that I am a small business and that my business is more than just me!

Anyways, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where I find interns and how I manage them, so I decided to put together a quick post. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment!

Where To Find (Free) Interns

This is the easy part (at least for me lol). There are so many places to post your job listing, but if you’re trying to find FREE interns (where the intern must receive school credit), you’ll have to be mindful of when you post the job listing so that you can interview and offer them the internship before their semester begins.

Here are my favorite places to post internship listings:

  • Handshake.com
  • My blog (and promote it on my social media & newsletter)
  • Directly contacting the local university and getting in touch with the internship coordinator (most schools are on handshake.com, but some aren’t)

I like to leave the application up for at least 2-3 weeks, and I leave about 1.5 weeks after that to interview them before the start the internship. So, if you’re planning ahead, you should post your listings about a month before the interns would need to start.

My Internship Interview Process

Unfortunately with most unpaid internships, you’re more likely to get unqualified applicants. This means it’s EXTRA important to weed through to get the good ones (trust me, there’s nothing worst than having an intern who you have to babysit – it’ll create more work for you in the long-run).  My interview process work something like this:

  1. Review all applicants’ resumes & cover letters
  2. Narrow it to my top 4-5
  3. Contact the top 4-5 and invite them to a 15 minute phone interview
  4. On the phone interview, get a feel if we would get along and if I’d enjoy working with them. Here are some questions I ask:
      1. Tell me about yourself
      2. Tell me about your [industry] experience
      3. Do you have experience writing in multiple voices?
      4. What social media scheduling tools have you used?
      5. What are your long-term career goals?
      6. Are you available [for the internship duration/ X hours per week]?
  5. Invite my favorites to complete a project so I can gage their social media skills
  6. Offer internship to top 2 candidates (and wait for them to confirm/accept before letting the others know you went with other candidates, as sometimes they get other offers)

You’ll typically need to sign some paperwork for their school and then sign off on their hours as the semester continues on.

How To Manage Interns

Once your interns start, I would definitely recommend renting out a co-working space so you have a place to meet with your interns (if you don’t already have an office, of course). I go to Deskhub in Scottsdale (more on my experience at Deskhub here) which I like because they have a larger common area where my team & I can work together and I can also rent out conference rooms for presentations and trainings.

I use Asana to help me manage & delegate tasks. I organize my Clients into Projects to keep client work organized, and I have a separate “team” for my personal tasks that mainly relate to my blog, website, and newsletter.

I used to feel awkward giving interns feedback or criticism, but looking back on all my past internships, I remember the ones where I learned the most was when I was given constructive feedback to improve my skills. If an intern screws up, let them know, but teach them how to do better next time.

Hope these tips helped!

xx Becca

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