Is Taking On An Intern Worthwhile?
Posted by Callum Whitten on 13 July 2020

Whether you’re a company of ten employees or one hundred, it is likely that you have received an email from someone looking for work experience or an internship at your organisation. It is a big commitment, especially for smaller companies. You have to consider a range of things, from whether the intern will be paid, what impact that will have on your budget, what work you can give them, to the resources and time required to adequately teach them your company’s processes. Here at Hey Me, we took the time to talk to our team about their thoughts on internships, both from a business and intern perspective:

Callum (Comms & Social Media Intern, Hey Me):

Callum dressed in business attire standing outside a sign reading 'careers and placements'

“Before I started university back in 2017, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in my future career. With this in mind, I decided to include a ‘Year in Industry’ as part of my degree, meaning I would go on placement in my third year if I could get any offers in the previous year. The application process in itself was invaluable, as I applied for up to 30 or 40 different roles, teaching me how to structure my CV and cover letters, as well as gaining vital interview practice. Eventually, I managed to secure a marketing role at University of York Careers & Placements department for a year, and I don’t think I’ve ever grown as much as an individual as I did in that year.

As important as the work that I completed was, the most valuable skill that I took away from it was the ability to communicate effectively in a workplace environment. I came to realise how communication is probably the single most important skill to have in a workplace, especially when working remotely as I learned towards the end of my placement. Not only had I gained a great deal, both as an individual and for my CV, I felt that I had made a real impact on the careers department. When I left, it became clear that due to the pandemic my team could not replace me, meaning that some of my work could not be continued. This was somewhat of a blow for the organisation and although unfortunate, I had realised that I had made a sizeable impact.

The placement gave me the confidence to apply for this internship, and I am really enjoying playing some part in the growth of Hey Me and working in our tight-knit team! Both my placement and this internship so far have made me realise that I want to work in digital marketing and communications in the future, and Amy (Hey Me’s Managing Director) has been really helpful in enabling me to try out different aspects of digital marketing.

One of the things that I have realised as an intern is that businesses should try to pay their interns, and I’m not talking from a ‘cash-strapped student’ point of view. I have interned (or volunteered) at various organisations in the past, and often if they don’t pay the intern, they don’t tend to give them much work to do. This kind of internship can be quite demoralising for the intern. If the company pays their intern, they are more likely to give them more work to do in order to receive return on investment. Therefore, if you are considered hiring an intern, make sure you plan out the tasks that you want them to complete and any aims you have for them. With enough time and investment in an intern, they could become a real asset for your organisation.”

Emma (PR & Comms Associate, Hey Me):

Emma in a bright red dress holding a clear umbrella. She stands on a path with some grass beside her.

“Having studied History of Art at University, when I graduated this time ten years ago, I wasn’t quite sure of the path I was going to take in my career, however I knew I would love to do something that involved writing. After mulling over what to do, I sought out an internship with a local PR agency, The Big Partnership.

I thrived on the challenge of writing press releases, pitching to media, organising press shoots (carting a life sized Desperate Dan cut out around remains a particular memory) and responding to client requests, before moving on to working with some amazing mentors at Genuine PR and Weber Shandwick, who really pushed me to use my creativity and inspired me to pursue a career in PR and communications.

My experience then led me to London for 8 years to forge my career, where I worked in-house with a range of organisations from public sector to advertising to clients from a music licensing company to a hair growth client – a mixed bag of experience with lots of (good and bad) lessons learned, which if you ask any communications professional is something we all experience.

If it wasn’t for interning, I would never have got to experience the different things that my career in PR and communications has afforded me. You constantly learn to evolve and grow, challenge yourself and think outside of the box. The learning really never stops, which is part of the fun of a career in communications. If you have a passion for writing, for strategising and seeing organisations you work with in the press or winning awards (it never gets old!) then I would say give interning a try – you never know which direction it will take you in.”

Marie (Doodle HR):

Doodle HR logo

“My business partner and I took on an intern last summer, which was the first time we had ever used this avenue and it turned out to be a valuable option for us as a growing company. We had many projects that we wanted to complete but were finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to do them. When the internship opportunities were highlighted to us, we realised that we would be able to get an educated and motivated university student to work with us to achieve our goals. We wanted to improve our website and social media platforms whilst also looking at what our competitors were doing. Our intern helped us do that.

What is also really useful when using an intern programme is the ability to set a very clear project and timeline so that you know what is there to be achieved. This gives clarity to everyone, but it also allowed our intern to use his creativity and look at things differently to us. A fresh pair of eyes can yield ideas and changes that me and my business partner probably wouldn’t have thought of because we’re actually too close to the detail. All in all, it was a great idea for us and at a cost that was manageable, which for a small business is very important.”

“Since day one, Amy herself has fit seamlessly into our team, understanding the message we want to convey and the audiences we want to reach. Her upfront audit was invaluable in helping us internally hone our common voice, which has demonstrated itself in the consistency of the content we put out as a brand and as individuals within the company. Behind the scenes, Amy has instinctively adopted our internal communication methods (Slack, SharePoint) and works closely with our in-house graphic design team to ensure our graphics and copy are in sync.” Lucy Prior MBE - previously from 3Squared 2021
“I saved so much time after implementing a more structured approach which has given me the opportunity to focus on creating more content and work more closely with my clients. Amy and her team are easy to deal with and are quick to provide valuable solutions. I would not hesitate to work with Hey Me again in the future.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston
“I met Amy a few years ago at a Young Rail Professionals event and was able to provide her with an opportunity to manage the comms on a major alliance which she flourished at. Soon after she started, Marie came along to provide HR support across the multiple businesses. It seems only natural that being as dynamic and knowledge as they are, they are looking to work together on this new venture, which I am sure will be a huge success.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston
“I saved so much time after implementing a more structured approach which has given me the opportunity to focus on creating more content and work more closely with my clients. Amy and her team are easy to deal with and are quick to provide valuable solutions. I would not hesitate to work with Hey Me again in the future.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston

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