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Considering to hire interns or volunteers?

Good thinking! There are always people who can benefit from working with you, even when they are not not paid with money.

Below are my top 5 on working with Interns/volunteers successfully:

  1. Clear expectations: In the beginning of the work I had a long chat with each candidates to understand their motivation for doing the internship. This has helped me to select the right candidates, but also this was useful to gain clarity of their reasons and expectations on how they think they can benefit from working with us. Listening to these, and making sure that those benefits were realised have been key in keeping them engaged throughout the internship and making sure they were satisfied and happy in the end. I also made sure all of them created something tangible (video, article, etc) that they can use in their portfolio. 

  2. Giving authority and trust: Extensive research shows that freedom and regular experiences of autonomy (feeling empowered to make meaningful choices about your work) are consistently found to have the highest correlation with motivation. (Note: according to self-determination theory, people require 3 things: regular experiences of autonomy, competence, and connection with others). I tried to give the interns as much authority as possible, and was the person in the background giving them only directions and guidance when it was needed. 

  3. Being approachable and available: I have found that it was highly valuable for the interns that they could reach me any time with their issues or questions, I was available for them. 

  4. Regular team meetings: Even tough we were a remote team (or especially because we were a remote team from different countries who had never met in person before!), it was important that we feel connected to one another and build relationships. One feedback from interns was that they loved the weekly meetings (today they told me that they missed it this morning!), they felt more engaged, connected and being part of a team because of those meetings. 

  5. Nurturing and feedback: It was very important to me to close the project properly with everyone I have worked with. Making sure that those expectations and benefits were realised that we voiced in the beginning. Also, giving interns written recommendation and feedback, and asking them to give feedback, was highly valued by them. 

"If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." - Jim Rohn

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