Employees · Internships

Should early-stage startups hire interns?

Yana Podskrebalina QA Test Engineer at Woact Company

March 3rd, 2017

We have used more of our seed funding to hire engineers to perfect our product. I’d rather not wait to further grow the company, and I feel like we can make some incremental but important progress with interns.

I’m thinking of bringing on about 3 interns who can do marketing and UX/UI with my team’s guidance. Is it okay to bring on interns at this time? We would give them around minimum wage and they’d benefit by really being able to get their hands dirty and contribute to the formation of a product (I know from working at top tech cos that they’d never get anywhere near this close at those type of places). Or should we avoid bringing on anyone who isn’t fully-trained and experienced?

Michael Bennett Engineering skillset with an entrepreneur mindset.

March 6th, 2017

I believe you will end up with a lower output of useful work if you end up hiring interns vs not. They will likely take away from the work your engineers are doing with questions and being shown what needs to be done, how things are done etc and produce a negligible amount of useful output themselves.

Kristin McCullough Visionary, Innovative, Strategic, Business Acumen

March 9th, 2017

Fantastic advice, IF you are funded, AND IF, there are resources with the knowledge you need. I spent almost 8 months looking for robotic MEs, EEs, and SEs to no avail. Robotic resources will flood the market when the current high school kids graduate from college. Until then, the resource pool does not exist unless well funded.

I learned the hard way and wasted quite a bit of time. I am now teaching my team robotics. This experience for my team is the incentive to work for equity only.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

March 3rd, 2017

This is useful for you and them, but they can drain your time. Do not waste your time or theirs if you are not going to support them. The reason they are cheap is because they have few real skills. Do not expect great things fast. They may surprise you, but plan on them not.

Ronnie Guha DevOps & cloud software development

March 6th, 2017

When you are a young firm, you don't have the luxury of time. Interns = time spent on training. Same with young hires = tons of training time required. Bite the bullet, get experienced folks - save time. When you are a larger company, get interns to develop your talent pool.

James Abel Software/Hardware Engineer

March 6th, 2017

Yes, but be very selective. Only bring them on if they are coming in with an unusually high ability to contribute. I'd be very surprised if you can find 3 interns that are all worthwhile for you.


April 19th, 2017

Interns might be extremely useful in doing things that core members just don't have time to do or at which they just suck (think about social media stuff, as an example). Depending on the startup, some temp/part-time roles might be much better fulfilled by interns than the core members.