Interns can be a valuable resource for small businesses | Opportunities | Small Business Connect

Mike Joubert, chief executive officer at BrandsRock

Interns can be a valuable resource for small businesses if the recruitment and management of the interns are dealt with effectively. MIKE JOUBERT of BrandsRock reflects on their  experience with Fetola’s GAP programme. 

I first became acquainted with the Graduate Asset Programme (GAP) after being introduced to Catherine Wijnberg, who runs this programme with her team at Fetola.

One aspect at BrandsRock I’m passionate about is development of talent. There remains a prev-alent conundrum of experience versus opportunities. These are mostly open to people with experience, but without opportunities to gain experience, fresh talent cannot be considered. In the creative industries, talent grooming is vital. At BrandsRock we’ve addressed that by having a rolling intern programme where we continuously seek to strengthen our staff complement with qualified interns.

The benefit? They gain experience and we gain an extra pair of hands on deck.

We recently signed up to GAP. As a result, we have access to a number of qualified graduates to consider as possible interns. The programme is well engineered, with all the necessary checks and balances to ensure a good match between BrandsRock’s needs and graduates’ expectations.

What most impresses me about GAP is that the programme seeks to ensure that graduates on the scheme deliver real value to the businesses they join. The graduates are there to learn and add to their academic qualifications, and as a business we can reap the benefit of their skills and thirst for real on-the-job training. So what then are the benefits of employing graduate interns?

Interns provide great value to a small business that does not have the cash flow capability to carry high resource overheads. Interns can perform tasks that deliver against company objectives, while at the same time gaining much-needed experience.

Our experience with interns has always been positive. With a well-managed infrastructure and a clear work plan, interns excel at their work. We found the roles interns add most value to are in research, basic administration tasks, creative brainstorming and elementary project management.

We structure assignments so that there are real objectives and responsibilities against which interns are measured. Induction should include the context of their role, should communicate overall business objectives and should explain the intern’s specific role in achieving these objectives. Regular (say, weekly) Q&A sessions can be set up to track progress and guide the intern. I believe it is important for every company in South Africa to have an internship programme because it equips graduates with valuable on-the-job training without undue pressure on company overheads. It’s a real win-win opportunity for both parties.

•           For more info on Fetola’s GAP programme, visit www.gogap.co.za.