Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interns Part I: Finding interns to make your life remarkably better

This guest post is from Phillip, who I recently met at the Art Directors Club in New York City.  While we were meeting, he had several local interns working away in the room near us on a Wednesday afternoon... I thought he'd have a little advice to share with you about how he finds his interns. - Anne

This article could be written and finished in one sentence: "Finding an intern to work for you is as easy as creating a Craigslist ad (http://cl.ly/3n3z3e2M383y) and asking for help."

 As a former educator and mentor and tutor, I love working with high school students. In my hometown of Santa Barbara there were a few arts programs in some of the high schools that required the students to do 40 hours of internship time with a creative professional. Students I knew started contacting me to fulfill their internship hours and before I could say "extra pair of hands" I had multiple students available last Summer to assist on family photo shoots, carry gear, count receipts, etc. I didn't train these interns in highly technical stuff like editing, retouching, second shooting, etc. They were simply an extra pair of hands on every shoot I went on. And they were great!

If you want someone more like an office manager or in-house retoucher/editor and you need to spend a little more time cultivating your intern, you can do something like this on Craigslist (click to view larger):


This was accompanied by ONE lovely sunset photo of a couple on a beach:


And that's it. Within 24 hours on a MONDAY I had over fifteen people email and I shut the advertisement down. I received requests from "Brookies," students at the prestigious Brookes Institute of Photographer, college students, high school students, people with extensive resumes, and people with no photo experience whatsoever (but they really liked photography). All of these people were willing to put in time and gain knowledge from the experience.

In the end, I chose the one guy whose response made me chuckle. He said he had an unhealthy addiction to Pinterest. And someone else in town knew of him and recommended him. We met once over coffee, and I hired him immediately. I feel very lucky to have met Matt Misisco because he has become a great friend, was the best assistant ever, and is really a great human being. I also figured out how to pay him because I highly valued his help (I gave myself a $25/hr raise and paid him $10/hr for five hours each Monday). I would recommend hiring someone based on personality over qualifications, absolutely. All you really need for a good intern/assistant is someone with a YES attitude and who will show up on time. And that's it.

Fluffy resumes don't mean a thing. You want someone who will represent you well on a job, no matter where you are. Technical skills don't matter. If they are trainable, that is preferable, because you aren't working with someone who thinks they know how to do things right (even if it's not how you manage your workflow/editing).

Some issues I've run up against when working with other interns that I would be careful of: Lack of transportation. Know-it-alls. Social ineptness. Dramatic/complicated home life.

I want to make clear how easy it was to find an intern: It took me less than five minutes to build that request on Craigslist, and it was the best decision for my business I ever made.

I wish I had done it sooner.

Curliest Photographer You Know

Phillip Van Nostrand built his business in Santa Barbara, CA, where he has shot over 50 weddings, countless head shots, and events for the past 5 years. He travels abroad at least once a year and is almost up to 30 countries traveled. Published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, New York Times Magazine, featured on Under Armor for Women’s web page, featured in Santa Barbara Dining and Destinations Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Please keep in mind that your business is subject to the Department of Labor's rulings on unpaid internships. Here's an easy test to see if your unpaid internship is legal (or not). Today, unpaid interns are taking legal action against their "employers". Know your stuff to protect yourself and your business. And remember, adults write things down so make sure there's a contract.

    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

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