12/4/2021 0 Comments
Founder's Spotlight with Miriam Pierre: The lowdown on hiring and managing interns!
Our latest Founder's Spotlight interview features Miriam Pierre from Nurture Collective.
Miriam and I met through We in Social Tech - a tech for good accelerator for female-led businesses where we provide our mentoring services and deliver our Tech Startup Academy™ workshops.
Miriam was selected as one of twenty entrepreneurs to join Cohort 2 of the programme.
Hiring interns is a popular way to get much needed help with building startups, and Miriam gave us the scoop on her first experience with hiring and managing an intern.
How’s it going?
Please tell us about your business.
Nurture Collective is an online marketplace for ethical children’s clothing, toys and gifts for those aged 0-12yrs. We want to empower mamas to make informed choices when buying products and make it easier for them to shop more consciously.
What is your opinion about the value of hiring interns?
For my business I would see the hiring of an intern as being super positive.
It gave me what I was looking for – freeing up some time to work ‘on’ and not ‘in’ the business, but equally led to some things I wasn’t quite expecting.
It’s lonely being a founder and it was great to be challenged and to be able to talk through proposed approaches with someone else. For my intern, hopefully it was positive in building their CV and enabling them to be right at the heart of a growing business.
I’d love you to tell us about some of your highs and lows with working with interns. What have you learned, and what would you do differently if you were starting again from scratch?
The highs have been:
1) the challenge and companionship
2) having taken the time to hire a really high quality intern, spending the time to nurture them, and now being in a position where things are happening in the business and I’m not always having to do it – it sometimes it feels magical!
I guess there haven't been many lows but there are times early on where you are investing precious time when you are hoping the returns will come – for me it certainly worked out.
One of the lows which is yet to come is when my intern has to move on to a permanent role – I will miss her as a person and for her support, but I will be so grateful for her contribution to Nurture and hopefully we have helped on her journey as well.
I hear you! Things happening that you didn't have to do yourself? It's almost luxurious after the slog of pushing the rock uphill all by yourself!
It's a great point. You have to invest, to reap the benefits sometimes. Often interns may not be productive from day 1, and entrepreneurs that expect this can end up frustrated and disappointed. Founders should expect to provide training, and very clear direction…
You need to be able to communicate effectively remotely - there are some great tools to plan and organise and I personally recommend Google docs and Trello. It’s so important to be really clear on what you want to achieve with your intern and then how they are going to complete tasks within a realistic time frame. Specifically, if it's a marketing role you need to be really clear on your brand guidelines and then have it written on a doc you can share. I recommend Trello. Then your intern has this as a reference to better understand your brand.
Absolutely. I'm delighted to see you're doing so well with that. It's something I always talk about in our Marketing for Tech Startups workshop. It's an approach which prevents a lot of confusion and wasted time. Coming from a corporate background I see no reason why small businesses and startups should not develop systems and frameworks as soon as possible to keep things organised.
Miriam, what kind of work did you hire your intern to do?
We hired an intern to help with our digital marketing which can definitely seem overwhelming - particularly as we are on 4 platforms!
It’s great to have fresh eyes and input into the planning and creating of our content.
Can you share your top tips on how and where to hire interns from?
I think treating it like a normal recruitment process is really important.
I prepared a job specification, interviewed candidates, gave feedback and set a task for interviewees to undertake. It really gave a strong framework to assess people fairly. In terms of the actual platforms, I used Indeed, which is a well-known job site. It was free to place the ad and quite straightforward to post it. You can even talk to a recruiter to help you with wording and placement and I had a really good level of interest.
Thanks, that's a great tip to end on! Having a recruiter to advise is extremely helpful, especially if you're new to hiring staff.
Thanks for sharing your experience Miriam, and best of luck with your business.
You can find out more about Nurture Collective here:
Before you go, I'd like to share some more information about interns.
Internships usually run for 4-12 weeks.
You will need to observe the minimum wage based on the intern's age, and even charities may need to cover travel expenses and lunch for interns as a minimum.
Please take a look at the latest guidance from the government on these matters on the Gov.UK website.
Work placements may be quite short, and be paid, or unpaid, and run for between 1 and 4 weeks, however, some industrial placements that take place as part of a higher-education course may continue over a longer period, often up to a period of 1 year.
Indeed was mentioned as a place to hire interns in this post, however you might also consider Workinstartups.com, and contacting local university career and employability teams.
These department(s) will discuss your role(s), explain how they can help, and let you know how much you will need to pay to hire students.
In addition to explaining your requirements, you may need to complete paperwork related to student risk assessments, and health and safety (in the UK you don't need to have a written health and safety policy if you have five or fewer staff), and to confirm that you have employer's liability insurance, which may be required if the university itself does not provide this cover under its own insurance policy.
We recommend that you request access to forms and paperwork up front so you can look it over, make sure that you can comply, clarify requirements, and ask questions before you attempt to start the hiring process.
Work experience gives young people exposure to the world of work for a shorter period of time, and may be paid or unpaid based on the nature of the work, and the young person's age.
Getting access to advice about hiring
Understanding all the terminology, and do's and don'ts associated with hiring can be a minefield!
We have briefly discussed internships, work placements, and work experience, but these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
There are a huge number of "work statuses" that can be assigned to people who work for you, and it is important to understand the implications associated with them. You may find it helpful to get some free advice from Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (UK) based on your own specific circumstances.
According to the Gov.UK website:
Acas provides free and confidential advice to employers, employees and their representatives on employment rights, best practice and policies, and resolving workplace conflict. The helpline has a free translation service for over 100 languages.
They can be reached via telephone, or contacted via email. You can find information about the Acas helpline here.
If you are looking for interns, Purposeful Group is currently powering Capital Enterprise's Talent Incubator to support students and recent grads with upskilling and finding positions as interns this Summer.
If you'd be interested in interviewing any young people to work at your business who are highly motivated and have undertaken a number of practical assignments and attended live online workshops to develop their workplace skills, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Capital Enterprise.
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