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An Inside Key To Growth
My wife and I, Kerri and Ken Courtright, are the Cofounders of Income Store. We found out we are a sixth time Inc. 5000 company. All that means is we know how to grow a business. Inc. 5000 means nothing other than over a four-year period of time, we have outgrown all but 5,000 of the eighteen million US companies. Each year we hit the list. We’re somewhere around the 1,000th fastest growing US company. This podcast only focuses on growth. We are growth consultants at heart. The corporate name is Today’s Growth Consultant. The point of this podcast is, when Kerri and I live our lives, we bump into people, we bump into situations. We live life listening for and watching for some form of information or inspiration where we clearly see someone react in a way that made them pull out a tape recorder, pull out a notebook. They wrote things down and ask somebody to repeat themselves. We know when we see something significant in a way that can grow a company, we take notes. We tape-recorded ourselves, and then at least a couple few times a month we sit down and make sure we podcast on it. Our belief is if the nugget we heard impacted one individual, it can impact a lot more people all over the world. This podcast is now downloaded regularly and often in eighteen countries and growing rapidly.
I have a special guest here. The root of this podcast was inspired by my daughter. I saw her walk in the house and the minute I saw her face I said, “I got an idea for a podcast.” I ran downstairs and wrote the outline of a podcast down. I want to drop one more nugget before I get into this particular episode. I got something in the mail from a buddy of mine, Nick, and it was a movie called A New Leash on Life. I found out that my wife and I are now Emmy-winning executive producers of a film called A New Leash on Life. It’s the story of a group of people that got together to raise dogs to help people with PTSD. They did it on a much higher level than a lot of the organizations that do it. We heard about it and we funded a film that backtracks the story of this company and told the world about it and apparently, we won an Emmy. It is pretty freaking awesome so I thought I’d share that. I’m going to bring on a special guest. Could you share with the world who you are, how old you are and what school you go to?
To start, I want to say congrats, dad. I did not know about that achievement. I’m Kaci. I go to school at Pepperdine University. I’m an economics major and I’m twenty years old.
This episode was inspired by Kaci walking in the door. It hit me that I have done some episodes in the past very loosely around internships with the concept of growing companies, especially if you want to grow quickly. Using interns for some companies is not optional. If you want to grow overseas, sometimes an intern is a great way to go. There are a lot of overseas companies using interns in the US. It’s a cool concept. It’s not new. The interns have been around for hundreds of years. I built a series of questions and it will add a lot of value to business owners out there. If I could pepper Kaci with a few questions, here we go. Kaci, you’ve had a couple of different internships, one was paid, one was unpaid. Walk us through the first internship. Why did they hire you? What did that company do?
My first internship was with CompTIA. They’re an IT industry firm that specializes in different IT certificates and I worked with the member’s education department. What I did with my team was we wrote a lot of blog posts and reach out to a lot of members to educate them on what materials they should be certified in and new membership programs that are coming out.
You would help these members as a part of continuing education. You continue to advance them and you’d hope to keep them as a member and you wrote content. Was that a paid or unpaid position?
That was paid.
How did they find you?
I applied through Indeed.com.
This company went to Indeed.com and put a listing up looking for interns.
The best interns are the ones who want to be an intern. Click To Tweet
They put listings on multiple different work platforms.
Why did they decide to hire you over other people?
I believe that they decided to hire me above others because of my ambition. I clearly showed during my interview process that working with them was something that I wanted, and I was going to go through any limit to work for them and get experience working with them. I knew that at some point I wanted to work with a major corporation and CompTIA is big in the IT industry. It was a very well-known name so I thought that it was a shot I was going to take.
When they offered you the job, why exactly did you take it?
I took it because I wanted to experience working with a large corporate company. It’s important to get experience from the startup level as well as something that’s already established to see what it’s like on the inside and how different departments work together. I got a lot of information from them because of that.
What did the company get out of hiring you as opposed to a full-time employee?
Interns get the brunt of the work. We’re given jobs that full-time employees don’t have to spend their time on because they’re paid more and their time is more valuable than ours. As an intern, we would sort their files, sort their membership records, write easy content, pass the ball around to different departments, be the messenger, and stuff like that.
What they got out of you is instead of giving a task on a full-time employee that’s paid full benefits that have highly paid certain fundamental tasks, that went to the intern instead of the full-time paid employee. What did you get out of this internship?
I got out a lot of information and information is one of the most important things you can get; knowledge and information. At that internship, I didn’t learn any skills that I didn’t already have. Some people might say, “That’s no big deal. Why did you intern there if you’re not going to get anything valuable?” Instead, I learned a lot about corporate companies. I learned how to network better. I’m still in touch with the CEO of CompTIA and to me, that’s more special than anything else I could have learned from that internship. I also learned how to time manage and how to make editorial calendars.
Knowing what you lived through and witnessed in that internship with a sizable company, why would you tell some of these audiences that have sizeable companies to use interns?
There are so many reasons for interns. The best interns are the ones who want to be an intern. It is most valuable for companies to hire an intern that one wants to be there who doesn’t mind doing the brunt of work because you can get a lot done with the intern’s time. If you need to shred papers, that’s what an intern is for. If you need someone who can write down your notes when you’re in a meeting, that’s what an intern is for. If you need someone with an outside perspective that thinks differently than you because they’re not already in your company, that’s what an intern is for. I was sitting in so many meetings listening and giving input when I had the chance and that gave them the most valuable in my opinion.
Would you have a strong recommendation that company use interns?
Let’s flip over to your other internship. This one was unpaid. Tell people first what that company does and how did they find you?
An unpaid intern goes in wanting to get more out of this internship than just money. Click To Tweet
The company that I worked for is called Uprising. It’s an apparel brand and it’s a startup so I knew beforehand that it was going to be unpaid and I found Michelle on LinkedIn. She posted hers on LinkedIn and it popped up because I was looking for jobs in the area. A lot of people from Pepperdine works there, so I figured it was worth a shot to apply.
You knew going in that this is unpaid, but it’s a startup. What one or two nuggets were you hoping to glean out of that startup?
After working in corporate, I decided that I wanted to work in a startup. I had assumed that the lifestyle of a working position in a startup is completely different from the corporate and I was 100% right. In a startup, your boss doesn’t even know what assignments to give you. Your job as an intern is to help your boss figure out what next steps to take. A lot of my job was figuring out what campaigns to run, figuring out what audience to reach and figuring out how to set up this pop-up.
What do you think the company got out of your internship?
Michelle got a lot of new ideas. She had grown up and lived in LA. She had been in the fashion industry her whole life and I came in from a more management level. What I want to do in life is more on the management side of the business. From my standpoint, I was thinking, “Michelle, who’s your audience? What goals do you want to achieve? At the end of the day, what is it that you want to have had accomplished?” She was more, “This is my idea, this is what I want to do, this is how I want to do it.” She didn’t have as many concrete steps in place so I helped her nail a few heads down.
Because this one was unpaid, we have a lot of audience on this episode who own companies with zero to fifteen employees that maybe can’t afford the next employee. Give one or two reasons or pieces of advice of why they should go search out that unpaid intern. Why would that intern take an unpaid position?
If you’re unable to pay the intern, then odds are you’re going to find an intern who’s more determined than someone else who knows that they’d be getting paid. An unpaid intern goes in wanting to get more out of this internship than just money. That intern is going to go the mile to be able to learn from you. It’s worthwhile in your interest as a business owner to say, “This kid wants to learn from me. Maybe that person can hop on board later in life, or maybe that person knows things that I don’t know because she’s so ambitious or he is so determined.”
On the side, you have a small editing business. Let’s presuppose you’ve got ten to fifteen employees. Would you see yourself someday using interns?
If you would demand a lot from that intern, that person is going to question sometimes how much time he or she wants to give you because there is no benefit other than the knowledge, information and network that you have. Sometimes if that intern is young, they have other things on their plate and they’re going to say, “That time is better used to study or that time is better used to network with people my own age.” I would highly recommend that you would give some form of incentive, whether it be gift guards or reimburse for gas or give them some of your merchandise so that intern still feels valued at the end of the day.
Kaci said something critical. If you’re going to go for interns, paid or unpaid, understand that of the top ten reasons a paid employee stays at a company two years or more, the seventh is the pay. Number one is feeling appreciated. Number two is feeling part of a team. Number three, their voices heard. Number four is they’re appreciated. I can see what Kaci is saying. If you dropped the gift cards here and there, you don’t have to do it every day, people will go to battle if they know their voice is heard, they’re appreciated, they’re part of a team. The other thing too is if you’re a startup or you’re launching a new division inside an existing company, people love to be able to say someday, “I was part of that.” Can you imagine the people in the first year and a half at Google? I was part of that. Throw us one or two nuggets that wrap up the concept of internships. Why would you tell some of these entrepreneurs not to hire an intern?
The only reason why a business wouldn’t hire an intern is if you didn’t know how to manage one or if you didn’t know how to hire one. If you don’t know the type of intern that you want, if you’re just looking for any college kid, I don’t think you’re even going to find the right person to hire. You don’t want to waste your money and you don’t want to waste your time training that person. You should understand what type of person you’re looking for as an intern so that you both get the most out of that experience. You’re going to have to spend time putting an effort and putting an education for the kid because it’s not as if they walk in knowing everything about your company. That’s my biggest reason why you wouldn’t. It’s if you don’t know how to utilize an intern.
What’s one last piece of advice if you’re going to hire an intern?
If you’re going to hire an intern, let that intern shine. The parts of being an intern that I enjoyed were when my bosses would say, “Kaci, what do you think? How would you get it done?” I was given opportunities to show up my accomplishments. It’s more than an opinion. Everybody has an opinion, but it’s the fact that I had opportunities in my internship to speak out rather than do something.
If you’re going to bring in interns and we’ve used them for at least a decade, you have to listen to them or don’t bring them in. If they have good ideas, you have to implement some of them. Most importantly, if you listen to them and implement some of the ideas, you’ve got to treat them like a regular employee and then at the end of the week, at the end of the month, you have to recognize them in front of other people. Remember, they need an internship so they can go to the next company and put the experience on their résumé. Some of those people might call you and say, “Did so and so worked there?” You can’t just say, “They did.” You need to remember some of the things they did. You do need to recognize them. You do need to listen to them. As you’ve heard me for years on this podcast, you don’t know what you don’t know. When you bring in these young interns, they have vision into this world that you’ll never have. You have to listen to them and respect them. I hope this helps. Take care.