A guest post by Tara Jackson of EduTrek.

Hiring an intern to assist with marketing can be a cost-effective way to give your business a competitive edge.

What can a marketing intern bring to your business?

1. Social Media Savvy

If your business doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, bring a marketing student on board. Social media sites are now marketing powerhouses, says Rhonda Abrams, president of The Planning Shop and author of a popular business column for USA Today. After hiring marketing interns, she has exponentially increased her social media presence, which means she can easily reach out to potential clients and keep current clients better in the loop.

Marketing students are learning how to best use social media tools in their classes. By bringing students on board, they'll save you the time and energy of having to teach yourself these new skills. With their social media knowledge, marketing interns will have a better grasp of what strategies you should pursue online.

2. Spirit! They've Got Spirit! Yes, They Do

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of My Corporation, says, "An intern is actively pursuing you because they believe in the industry you’re working in, in the services that you provide. They want to help your company, not hinder it, and are willing to go the distance in extra research and attention spent on projects."

When you hire an intern, you know that she is working with your company because it specializes in a field the intern wants to someday pursue. Your marketing intern has not accepted the position because she needs to put food on the table or pay bills. Your intern is there because she wants to be there. It's not a stereotype that young people are more energetic and enthusiastic. They haven't been working at the same job for the past decade, with stagnant and outdated skill sets. They're not struggling to run a business. Marketing students have the passion that you started off with when you began your business, and that can offer a much needed injection of inspiration.

3. Word of Mouth Advertising

When your marketing intern has a positive experience at your business, he will become your brand's advocate. He will tell his parents, friends, professors, anyone that will listen, about how great your company is. That means that you raise your profile and possibly gain more clients in the bargain.

Of course, you won't get a brand advocate if all your intern does is get coffee and file paperwork. You have to be a mentor to him and teach the skills required for success in your field---skills that the student wouldn't learn in class. Moreover, if the internship is onsite, make sure to provide the intern with everything he will need to fulfill the duties of the position. Also, set clear goals for the internship, so everyone involved knows what they're getting into.

4. Future Employees

Today's marketing intern could be tomorrow's employee. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has consistently reported that 20-25% of new hires are sourced from the employer's own internship program. It's a statistic that makes sense. When you bring on an intern, you choose someone with the skill set you require as well as enthusiasm for the field. You choose an employee based on the same criteria.

So, why spend the resources and effort looking for someone outside of your office when your newest employee could be staring you right in the face? Your intern has the talents you're looking for, and she obviously wants to be in this field. Bonus: You invest less time and money training an intern-turned-employee because she is already familiar with the position and company.

To find a marketing intern, approach your local college or university's career services department. Staff members are accustomed to dealing with such requests, and they will help you navigate the paperwork and hiring process. You and the school will decide whether the internship will be paid or for college credit.

Before you contact the career services department, take some time to write out a detailed yet concise description of the intern's duties. If all this sounds like a great deal of work, you're right. Finding the right marketing intern will involve an investment of effort on your part. However, bringing in a young, passionate student will be well worth it for your business.

Tara Jackson is an education and career prep enthusiast for EduTrek.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Team of Young Successful Office Workers)

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