Over the past five years, we've obviously seen a huge spike in the number of bloggers, youtube personalities, fashion bloggers, etc. The question often arises from business owners; I have a blog or an online platform. I want to grow. Can I hire interns and have them write?
The answer is a bit more complicated. Here's my thoughts on the subject:
1. If anyone is considering hiring interns, they need to be familiar with the definition of interns - and the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) put out by the US Department of Labor that outlines six criteria that an unpaid internship should fulfill. You can find that information HERE.
2. An internship should be a supervised learning experience (you'll read that in the FLSA, as well) - meaning your interns (virtual or in-office) should have regular hours and be managed by you or your employees on a daily basis. They don't need to be watched every second but someone should always be working while they are working and checking in with them throughout the day on their progress. Many bloggers want to hire interns - use them to write a bunch of content whenever they have time - and that's the end of it. The students must really gain knowledge about a future career through this experience. If they leave with bylines that's great - but not enough.
3. Feedback and Assignments are Key. If you aren't going to have enough time to provide your interns with regular feedback/edits and replenish their assignments, I wouldn't suggest taking on an intern. An internship (by definition) might actually "impede" or "slow down" your business. It takes time for you to figure out which assignments to hand out and to review your intern's work. If the work isn't going to be consistent - don't bring on an intern. An internship program requires structure.
4. Interns can increase the head count but shouldn't increase the revenue. While technically an intern can help increase the size of your company (for example, you are one person and with an intern - you are now two people), they should never directly affect the revenue of the business. When an intern's work is replacing that of a paid employee is when we run into issues. The interns work might be beneficial to you (the employer) but should not be directly generating any sort of revenue for the business.
In conclusion, this is a sticky question. Can interns help you grow? I think interns can HELP but they don't necessarily help you to grow. The more important question is - how are you going to HELP the interns?
Food for thought :)