Back in early 2007 we were just getting Pardot off the ground and had a number of road map features we wanted to crank out during the summer. With an extra 2,000 square feet of office space we weren’t using, there was plenty of room to add team members. We didn’t have much money so we did what any enterprising startup would do: we hired 11 full-time, paid summer interns (eight engineers and three marketers). Hmm, you might be thinking, 11 is a bit much since there were only three full-time people in our startup (two co-founders and a lead engineer).
Here are some lessons learned from hiring a large number of interns:
- Without management infrastructure, we actually had one of the interns be an intern manager and manage several other interns, which worked out well, but overall the interns didn’t get nearly the amount of attention they needed
- Hiring standards were lax so we had a number of interns that didn’t work out, including one we had to fire half way through (a small number of the interns worked out really well)
- Customer discovery wasn’t distributed across enough different companies, so the product progressed faster than market feedback, resulting in functionality that was unnecessary
- Some of the interns excelled and we hired them again in the future
My recommendation is to incorporate interns into startups, but do it in a more thoughtful and manageable manner, such that everyone has a great experience.
What else? What are some other thoughts on hiring 11 full-time summer interns for a three person startup?