Given the continuing pressures and constraints from today’s market place, most companies are constantly on the look out for ways to control their costs. In particular, growing companies are often more cash-strapped than most, and are always trying to do more with less.
From a staffing standpoint many growing business owners and managers increasingly look to hiring interns as a way of handling many of today’s must-have activities, which wouldn’t otherwise get all of the resources they really need.
For many growing technology companies marketing is often one of those ‘minimum-resource’ activities that are partly powered by interns.
While this is mostly a win-win approach for both employer and intern, there are several pros and cons of using interns to handle an important business activity like marketing.
Pros of hiring marketing interns
- Professional development – Company owner and managers can participate in the training and development of tomorrow’s young business professionals.
- Eager contributors – Interns are often energetic and eager to apply their freshly-minted marketing knowledge to meet their employers needs.
- Up-to-date marketing skills at a lower-cost – Interns provide employers new ideas, perspectives and practical assistance with many of the latest and most common marketing areas (ex. Web marketing, social media, etc.), all at a lower-cost compared to hiring another employee.
- Resources on demand – Employers can hire additional interns to address changing marketing needs and fill selected new skills gaps.
Cons for hiring marketing interns
- Limited business acumen – While usually enthusiastic to apply their recent marketing knowledge, as students, marketing interns are often specialized in a particular domains (ex. communication, brand development, digital marketing) and may lack the broader marketing and/or business perspectives needed to be more effective.
- Lack of practical experience – Given their limited work experience, many interns have not been exposed to real-life business situations and may lack the tacit judgment to act quickly and effectively.
- Fit mostly for short tasks – Given the limited length of internships (often 3-12 months), interns are usually best-fit to handle short, discrete marketing tasks and activities with a well-define scope.
- Increased marketing performance requires proper leadership – The measurable business contribution of any marketing intern depends largely on the guidance and direction received from his/her supervisor. Where a supervisor has a limited understanding of the role of marketing and its specific practices, the results delivered by the intern will reflect this.
While there are definitely some good reasons for hiring interns to help develop a growing tech company’s marketing activities, without the proper guidance and leadership, intern marketing resources will have a little effect on the further development of growing company.
Rather than spending mainly on interns, business leaders would do best to first invest in an experienced marketing leader and/or seek out the assistance of qualified external expertise to put the company firmly on the fast-track to continued business growth.