Share Why hiring a ‘green’ intern can be good for business

john-belushiYou know that pimply-faced 22 year old guy with the ‘Go Green’ t-shirt you see in the coffee shop every day? Well there’s a good chance he could do wonders for your company’s green business strategy (maybe not John Belushi, though). Put simply, having an intern help with your green business initiatives can be an inexpensive way to move your business forward. Here’s why:

College students need experience (especially in this economy). Students passionate about ‘green’ are usually fanatical. Like Boston Red Sox fan fanatical. They know more about ‘green’ then you do. (This is a good thing).

I have used ‘green’ interns successfully for the last 4 years. Green interns can be crucial to handling the tactical part of your green business strategy. Once you’ve determined the strategy, they can help you execute it. Because they are typically so passionate about sustainability they are enthusiastic and hard-working. Unlike other members of your company who may feel the boss’s green business “inititiave” was thrust upon them, Interns welcome the work. The typical reasons clients have told me why they have NOT pursued getting a green intern:

“I can’t afford it” “I won’t find anyone good/qualified to hire” “I don’t know what to have them do/My company is too small to need one”

Allow me to tackle these one-by-one based on my experience:

“I can’t afford it” – 95% of the interns I have hired over the last 4 years have worked for free. Most did it to get credit at school or for the experience. Few do it for money (surprisingly). “I won’t find anyone good/qualified to hire”- I received over 65 applicants in 2 days for the last unpaid internship ad I posted. Many had college degrees, some had masters, almost all were more than qualified. “I don’t know what to have them do/My company is too small to need one” – I run a one person consultancy and have had up to 4 unpaid interns working at one time for me. There is plenty you can have them do.

Some of the work I have had my interns do over the last several years (in no specific order):

Identify the number, type, size of every light-bulb and light fixture in a clients 70,000 square foot building. Research all applicable rebates and tax credits for a multi-family property client including landscaping, plumbing fixtures, HVAC, etc. Research my clients competitors to see their ‘green’ position so that I could give my client some unique competitive advantages. Twitter about my upcoming events, blog posts, etc. Create a comparison chart of the top 15 waterless urinals for a clients restaurant property including rebates, performance, ease of install, etc.This was a fun one… Compile a national list of green vendors that I recommend. Schedule and coordinate green speaking events and workshops I have conducted. Attended client meetings and taken notes. Research no-VOC paint manufacturers located in the US. Order green business cards, letterhead, etc.

So you can see that there’s plenty for them to do. More importantly, when your green intern is doing it, it means your staff is not. Their time, therefore, is saved. To find qualified interns I have posted ads through local colleges, Monster, Careerbuilder, local papers and Craigslist. Craigslist (by far) delivers the best applicants in the shortest amount of time. It is the only place I post now. I have also used the same ad for the last few years and have found it be extremely effective.

Green interns can be a very valuable tool for you to use to help your business go green. Used correctly, they will deliver tremendous results, work hard and thoroughly enjoy the experience. To say nothing of the positive branding you get by being a company that has interns solely dedicated to your sustainable business efforts.

For a free copy of the ad I use to hire interns, please email me at jim@simcoegreen.com