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Should I Hire an Intern?

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Question: Should I Hire an Intern?
Answer:

Major record labels and other large music companies use music industry interns all the time, but for small music business owners, the idea of seeking out an intern can feel a little funny. On one hand, you have work piling up that would be perfect for an intern, but on the other hand, there is the tendency to feel a little like, "who am I to hire an intern?"

Here's the deal - even very, very tiny music companies, from small indie labels to small local promotions companies, can not only benefit from having an intern around but can also offer invaluable experience to said intern. If you're wondering whether an intern is right for your business, consider the following questions:

  • Do I Have Enough Work to Go Around?: Having enough work to go around doesn't mean that you want to get someone to do your job for free while you kick back and relax all day, of course. Instead, it means that your plate is so full that the basics of running your business are suffering - which is ultimately slowing down your progress. The "basics" part is key, here - if you need someone to be doing things like negotiating, traveling and so on, you may need an employee rather than an intern.

  • Will The Intern Learn Something?: The answer here is almost always yes, and in fact, as a small business, you may offer a more valuable learning experience than a larger company. You don't need someone to just make the coffee - chances are that you need someone to be more actively engaged with the actual running of your business. Every phone call you get an intern to make, every email they send, every package they put together and run to the post office gives them a some insight into how the music business operates. Even just helping you get all that paperwork and such organized is a lesson.

  • Are My Demands Reasonable?: This question goes back to the intern versus employee question. Assuming an unpaid internship, are the things you need your intern to accomplish reasonable? Remember that they likely have other demands, like classes and a paying job, that have to be accommodated. If you need someone to devote 15, 20 hours a week or more to the internship, without any compensation, then you're likely entering employee territory.

The bottom line? If you can offer an intern valuable experience, then you're ready for an intern - even if you are the only employee of your company. Don't feel funny about it - chances are that your intern will walk away with more hands-on experience than interns at larger corporations. Commit to engaging your intern in the running of your business, and the experience will be rewarding for you both.

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