Digital design agencies require fresh talent and fresh ideas constantly. Matching the marketplace and going one better means having a team of heavy-weights, mid-weights who can drive projects forward. However, those holding positions of responsibility can’t always keep those fresh ideas coming. Mixing things up and bringing in new faces is a fantastic catalyst.
With students as your target talent pool, there are many practical, professional, and pertinent benefits in bringing them on-board for an internship. We’ve dissected nine of the best reasons why you should start hiring interns today.
1) They’re keen
The fight for jobs is hard in the creative industries. Students who are dead set on making it in the business are some of the most joyful and effervescent creatures around. Perhaps that’s an overstatement or a generalisation, but interns tend to have an unworn aura to them that really spices up life at the graphic design studio.
These aren’t the kind of students who’ll search for an essay writing service to save their bacon on deadline day. They’re driven, hardworking, and want personal, professional and creative success by the bucketload. Often students have an excellent portfolio of personal and freelance work ready for your eyes. If someone is refusing to show their stuff, assume it’s mediocre and move on.
2) Access to new knowledge on novel technologies, resources, and movements
As we get older, it seems like our brains stop picking up new technologies. Sure, digital design may find itself full of slightly techy people who can master each iteration of the myriad forms of software in the game. However, students bring their sponge-like brains to the table.
While at university, students enjoy exposure to cutting-edge technology, techniques, ideas, and more. It’s an excellent opportunity for your business to learn more about these concepts and classes, by bringing in someone who’s just been learning about them. What’s that adage, about teaching something you know? In a roundabout way, you’ll be learning from the very students you seek to hire.
Think about those novel fields. Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality. UX and UI. All these emerging technical fields require some learning curve. By getting in those who are dealing with it fresh and unencumbered with previous knowledge, your business will find itself in a healthier, more knowledgeable position.
3) It’s only fair
Look, no one said it was easy making it in the creative industries. Internships offer students a chance for real-world experience and a taster of whether their career goals genuinely do align with their chosen degree or area of study. Life of a graphic designer might look different from the image they first had of the job.
Once students have leapt over the hurdle of ‘is this right for me?’ They will be able to enjoy the benefits of working at a company which wants to develop itself, and them in turn.
Unpaid internships are challenging. By taking away the financial incentive, and demanding a volunteer style position in exchange for precarious exposure and potential employment, you are cutting away a vast swathe of talent. Those who can afford unpaid internships have a bit of an unfair advantage, so if you are going to go for an intern, make sure you can afford to hire them on at least minimum wage, if not a living wage.
Of course, this depends on the duration of time your internship is going to run for; something lasting several months resolutely needs financial recompense. However, a day a week for a few weeks means you could relatively equitably offer expenses and lunch.
Shorter internships such as ‘one day a week’ offerings offer less to your company in terms of productivity; it’s hard for even the best intern to flourish with sporadic contact. However, they give an absolute boost to your company’s image. Internships promote a culture of openness and willingness to encourage the next generation onwards with material support and practical experience.
4) Students have new approaches and ideas
Exciting new artists come thick and fast out of university and art school. Grad shows are a fantastic place to spot emerging talent. London is at the centre of creativity for many British designers, so plan a trip when the schools are showing off their talent, and see London in the summer.
Don’t worry, many schools and colleges from outside the capital also hold shows in the city, such is the power it has in the industry. Meaning you can get snippets from across the UK, not to mention the world, given the propensity for international students these days.
5) Improving credentials
If you’ve been stuck in a rut for some time, bringing on interns can freshen up your company’s image and reputation. Students love to talk. They’re emerging into a world and are always sharing their insights and perspectives. Offering internships can slowly, or not so slowly, boost your profile through word-of-mouth.
It might not gain you new clients, but it will likely earn you new admirers. These are people who want to work and are looking for places to do so. They need to know you’re out there, so take one of them in and show them what you can do.
6) You can find new staff and test them
The ideal internship can bring great rewards to your studio. Internships are a fantastic means of testing out potential staff. Free from the irrelevant drudgery of an interview, your interns get a chance to fit in, contribute, and develop themselves into an indispensable part of your business.
Internships are highly common in fields like law; design should follow more in their footsteps. Law internships are highly competitive, and as are the limited number of design internships. This amount of competition does mean high-quality candidates are waiting for a chance at success.
In fact, you can generally tell if a candidate is a high-quality one because they’ve not just been waiting for their chance, they’ve been working on personal projects and maybe freelance gigs while they’re studying. Look for self-starters and see what they’ll do when given some runway.
7) They’re a blank canvas for your teachings
Hiring workers who’ve had experience means coalescing different ways of working and novel styles of communication. When hiring an intern, the general lack of experience means you can impart your knowledge and get things done how you want them done.
Not to say be bossy, but the intern is here to learn, as well as earn. In fact, the point of an internship is rarely the income, but more the outcome. Make sure you can handle the questions and the queries that will come your way. But enjoy offering the wisdom of your years to the younger crowd.
8) They can help with your workload
No one wants to see an overworked and under-thanked (read underpaid) intern slogging out CAD drawings for hours on end. Being completely frank, interns come in all shapes, sizes, skill levels, varying inclinations towards work ethic.
Choosing the right level of an intern is essential if you want someone who will help bring down the workload. First years generally are going to be a bit messy. Upwards from this point – don’t forget recent graduates who may be pulling pints by night and designing by day – you will find more adept and prolific workers.
In order not to exploit anyone, we’d recommend that graphic design internships come with a form of payment. Or that no pressure gets applied to your interns, making them completing large workloads. Yes, they need and should expect a challenge from your company, but they shouldn’t be carrying it.
With that said, think carefully on how you’ll structure your internship to make the most of this keen (usually) young designer. Listen to their stated skills and interests. Then compare those with what your studio is up to at the moment. How do they fit in, who could they help out?
9) Save money and get work done
We’ve made it clear that exploiting your interns is for evil villains. However, practically speaking; interns can receive less pay – and they do 99.99% of the time – than a full-time employee. There are no pensions or holidays that need factoring into the company accounts. There is only their time and their expenses.
Choosing the right intern if you’re looking for a way of saving cash means getting the hiring process right. Look out for the students with a solid background and some initial successes. Be aware that these high-powered young guns will likely expect a reward for their work, whether that’s limited to the payment or the potential employment once they’ve graduated.
10) Build connections with local universities and art schools
Graphic design internships, when deployed with partner institutions, can create not only a supply of future talent but future work contracts too. Integrating your firm with the places of study around you is an excellent way for your business to gain exposure.
Universities and art schools are always looking for ways to promote their connections with industry – this attracts students to their courses. So this is a mutually beneficial relationship to foster through internship opportunities. Meet the course leaders, meet the heads of department, and propose your interest in their students, and their work.
You’ll have the pick of the crop from a student populace that is made aware of your existence and your desire to bring some of them on-board.
11) Develop your mentorship skills
Leadership and mentoring are essential qualities in high-ups. While everyone has a unique personality and style, when it comes to developing these skills, it is crucial to expose oneself to as many opportunities to do this as possible.
By hiring interns, you can create connections and networks with burgeoning young talents, and what’s more, is that you can help to shape their career. Give them the advice you wish you had gotten. Point out, with tact, their blind spots and where they could improve. Encourage, and eventually, you’ll see the rewards returned to you.
But this isn’t just about doing something for a pay-off later. Mentoring people is a great way to improve our personalities and mental health. It feels good to do good things. Mentoring some interns in a competitive industry is one way of contributing to the greater good – all the more so if you’re helping disadvantaged or marginalised communities enter a disproportionately represented field.
Hiring interns in the design field is essential for your company to keep its cool. If hiring an intern is too much of an expense or headache right now, there are other ways you can engage with the vitality of students and learn more about potential future workers.
Consider competitions; make the prize something desirable and entry free of charge. Truth be told this smacks of the old ‘paid in exposure’ vibe that was common before the shift in attitudes around internships. However, when done correctly, they’re still an acceptable means of plumbing the depths of talent and seeing what comes up.
In short, hiring interns presents studios with a core of main benefits. In terms of the intern; you are offering an invaluable piece of experience, they will forever be thankful that you’ve given them an opportunity, and you should feel that this is an end pursuing in and of itself.
Secondly, hiring interns will give you, the one making the decisions, a chance to develop yourself as a leader and manager. This opportunity does trickle down to other members of your team, who may be relatively fresh from education themselves. They too, can gain experience in a more senior role.
Thirdly, your company culture will benefit from the new faces and new ideas your interns can provide. This injection of vitality could revolve around any number of concepts, technologies, or working philosophies.
Finally, you’re ensuring that your business will have a future workforce that is on the pulse and dynamic. You can use internships as a hiring process for your company to grow. These jobs could be full-time, part-time, contract-based. Regardless of the minutiae, internships offer routes to growth which all companies should be aware of right now.