I’ve always been an advocate of hiring interns. I had great internships during my college years; they were fun and taught me a lot. In 1997 I recruited my first intern and since then i’ve been placing interns in every workplace. The buzz in the Middle East is about giving opportunity to youth. What you don’t hear enough about, is the value youth, your interns, bestow on you and your workplace.
In July, I took the decision to turn the operations of BarakaBits entirely over to a group of interns. We trained over a few weeks and setup the communications channels and escalation paths they can use should they need guidance. The group ran BarakaBits without glitches; some researched, wrote articles, others worked on design, and publishing. The operation ran without a glitch!
Here are 6 benefits I and BarakaBits gained from the fabulous team of interns who worked with us this summer:
- Learning from interns who are digital-native the latest tools and tricks is humbling and eye-opening. I spend a good chunk of my work-life training executives on new media and information technology; so i consider myself relatively savvy at it. And yet, watching youth in their early 20s use technology was entertaining; I would set aside an hour for a task, and watch them get it done in 15 minutes. AMAZING!
- Presenting your work to someone new to business invites you to reexamine and simplify your objectives. You heard your elevator pitch countless times, and spoke to your employees, investors and customers about how you serve them. Interns are there to learn, they ask questions others don’t. Money is not the driving factor, it is genuine understanding of the purpose you exist. So until you’re able to clearly explain why, you keep trying.
- Training interns gets you to streamline and document your business processes. A byproduct of the fast-paced working environment looks like this: a new hire comes in, gets a quick overview, nods to demonstrate his/her understanding and quickly gets on the job. When training interns, that doesn’t work. You cannot assume any prior knowledge; and so you document your processes to train the new-bees! and in doing so, you examine what works, and throw out what doesn’t.
- Working with youth is energizing; their energy and enthusiasm is infectious. Nothing like hearing the words “that was fun” or “I learned a lot”. I’ve learned that in work attitude is everything! and interns have it. They’re eager to learn, feel the excitement of doing something new and do it with determination to get it right.
- Having a non-monetary relationship with co-workers has a different dynamic. The currencies exchanged are knowledge and creativity and seem more equitable than a financial currency.
- Looking at the world through the eyes of an intern two decades younger than you offers a unique perspective. They were born into a fast-paced, digital, globalized, overcrowded, overheated, world of conflict with access to more information than they will be able to consume in a lifetime. Most never lived in their parents’ homeland. While Arabic is their mother tongue, it is not their necessarily a first language.
I’d like to thank the interns who worked with us this summer and thank Unite Lebanon Youth Project for putting us in touch with some of them.
- Jana Al-Mawad
- Reeman Bustami
- Ziad Agha
- Wedad Anbtawi
- Dima Masri
- Frida Lundgren
- Ali Al-Harithy
- Dilwin Kaur
Looking forward to our next batch of inters; if you’re interested, join us