On the 29th January, Bloomberg.com stated that “more than 2 billion people would celebrate the Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger—which typically signifies traits such as bravery, adventure, and confidence. “Now I like to think I have confidence – but once you find yourself in the interview turnstile of millions of smart Gen Z’ers trying to find their way into the corporate or agency world- your confidence becomes a raw lunch for lots of South African tigers like me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with stapling a thesis of meeting agenda’s for meetings that don’t take place and binding board packs until I have paper sliced each of my real life fingers, or even joining the community of instant coffee barristers that exist at intern level if it means a foot in the door or a virtual company email address, but we can be and are so much more than remote working ghosts! We can add value, help create new products and services, research like a boss, use Google better than Siri, slice excel better than Bill, learn fast, upskill quickly and even deliver profit.

Look at 2022 as the year of productivity with us interns – see us as the digital hands you need to revitalise your business goals. Whilst I would never coin people like me “cheap labour” we can bring a plethora of knowledge, relevance, ideas, and modern strategy to the table at a good price and double the energy, appetite, and hunger.

Yes we want it our way sometimes, at our pace, with companies we join considering mental wealth, psychological health and incentives beyond the status quo, but we also want to be taught. We want to learn, be provided with opportunity, add value and be given a certain level of autonomy to show you we can do it. Yes we want you to trust us, if not understand us, and reward us fairly. But we will stop at nothing once we are seen and are growing. We will be your greatest brand ambassadors, agency influencers, network fire starters and loyal as anything.

We understand cultural nuances, have our fingers on the pulse of popular culture, can Tiktok a brand to fame, create websites in 2 weeks, scout young fresh talent, capture data or use the research tool none of your seniors have time for.

It’s time to think different and hire an intern! Teach and grow them up the ranks. Hire based on culture chemistry, entrepreneurial spirit, and alignment, not a fake CV or wafty list of non-event work experiences you have skimmed through previously. Ask us the right questions, ask us about our families, our dreams, our fears. Give us an opportunity to study and we will show you what value looks like.

I have been an intern for 8 weeks, and this is what I have learnt:

  • Find something in the organisation that isn’t being given the time (an expensive research tool) and learn it, train on it, monetise it and become an expert at it.
  • Focus on becoming a master at one or two things.
  • Request study or short course, even Udemy opportunities – and pass the first time.
  • Don’t fade into the background, bring ideas to the table, find your voice.
  • Stick to deadlines, this won’t go unnoticed.
  • Do the things that scare you, that no one has time for.
  • Create a space for yourself, your own position.
  • I have gained 6 new skills in 4 weeks !
  • Make what seems impossible, the possible.
  • Arrive at work on time, arrive to meetings early (virtual and \ or face to face).
  • Manage your time, this is more of a challenge than you think.
  • Go the extra mile, leave meetings with tasks that you can do to help your colleagues.
  • LISTEN! The people around you are more influential than you might think, most of your learning will come from discussions that happen around you so soak up every bit of knowledge you can.
  • Use your resources, they’re there for a reason, right? When you simply just don’t get it ask your office bud and then your best friend Google.
  • Watch that webinar.
  • Planning and organising are crucial, a clear mind is a productive worker.

Tips for companies and agencies hiring interns should ask:

  • What are you most excited about on your new journey?
  • Why have you chosen this industry?
  • What are your proudest achievements?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What would you like to gain from this internship?
  • What can you bring to the company?
  • What are your dreams?
  • How would you describe yourself?

My question to you is, how can you not use these auspicious people? All that they want is to absorb all that they can from their mentors and hopefully an inner fire can be unlocked from within them. I can speak from experience. When embarking on my internship journey, although I was always hungry to learn and discover I didn’t know how much drive I had in me until I was around so many driven individuals. That being said, interns can aid in creating an exciting working environment where mentors are even learning as they are teaching and shaping these individuals.

At the end of the day, we all want our business to perform and drive results. David Commings said “Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur. Develop a strong corporate culture first and foremost.” The exciting energy that comes with an intern adds value to this culture and may motivate those around. Performance is driven by healthy work environments, and I can promise you a young and enthusiastic intern is what your business needs to keep this environment fresh, happy and performance driven.

Let’s talk positivity, a word that resonates with me because there’s positivity in every situation you just need to look for it. In a situation where an intern decides to move on after their internship, this will be a learning curve for both parties. The positive side to this is the business has attained feedback from an individual who spent a few yet meaningful months at an organisation who now has an internal review. My advice would be to ask all interns (even those that stay) to review their time as an intern to allow the business to understand how they can improve internally.

A hungry tiger doesn’t give up until he’s found his prey. You can either lose the sighting or appreciate the new adventure.