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How Rock Star Interns Can Ignite Rock Star Small Businesses

rock star

No time, no money, no space—three of the most common excuses small businesses cite for not hiring a summer intern. But what if that intern was a total rock star? Someone who could come in and make a huge impact on your company? Would those excuses still hold true? 

I’ve been talking a lot about UNICORN, an amazingly cool twitter-inspired tool the folks at Shopify are using to communicate with, and compensate, their employees. And I learned about from an intern.

Anna the intern reached out to me via LinkedIn in response to a Fast Company blog post.

Shopify LinkedIn outreach

Notice the customized friend request—a refreshing change from the generic “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn” request you typically get from even the most seasoned of working professionals.

Since I’m a sucker for workplace design, I decided to check out their blog to see what they were up to. And they didn’t disappoint. There I found pictures of Nerf guns, unicorn art, and even an animal-inspired board room.

Shopify boardroom

We decided to set up a call. I threw a ton of stuff Anna’s way. I was immediately impressed by her ability to talk about a wide range of Shopify-specific topics without ever missing a beat.

In only two months with the company, she was able to speak knowledgably about their business and their initiatives from both a strategic and tactical point—and all as an undergraduate student. That not only speaks volumes about Anna’s true rock star ability and potential but also Shopify’s ability to identify and train rock star talent.

They gave her the green light to reach out on behalf of the company, create and manage a blog about her experience as an intern, and they also included her in a subsequent call between me and Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s CEO. They let her run with high profile projects and, from every indication, she rocked them all.

So back to the three most common excuses for not hiring a summer intern (lack of time, lack of money, lack of space)—do any of them really justify missing out on the potential upside for your small business?

[Images: Flickr user Joel KramerShopify

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