You may find this surprising, but free employees are often available for your homebased business. In fact, it's easier than you might think to find talented, energetic people who are eager to work for free to help your business grow. But you won't find them by placing an ad. To successfully find the right candidates, you have to write a creative letter.
In lieu of a paycheck, these employees will want to work for you for two primary reasons. First, you'll be offering them real-life experience that will look good on their resumes. And second, they'll gain skills that will enable them to advance in the marketplace.
So what's the secret? Internships! Colleges, universities, high schools and trade schools are eager to help you connect with their students.
According to Michele Morris, who heads the Marketing and Communication Department at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, "We actively seek meaningful work opportunities for our students. They eagerly want to get out of the classroom and into realistic experiences where they can see how people in the workplace handle projects. It's one thing for them to get an academic background in journalism or marketing; it adds a whole new dimension when they get to work for a newspaper or advertising agency and see what really goes on. Our experience with internships is that this is often a first mentorship experience for our students, and they highly value the opportunity."
Schools place interns in many types of offices: architectural, engineering, construction, design and IT firms, for example. A hospitality student could work for a restaurant, a bed and breakfast, or a catering business. A marketing student could work for a florist, a travel agency, a bookstore and so on.
Instead of spelling out duties and responsibilities as you would for a traditional employee, your message has to be tailored to the desires and interests of the people who will be trading their time for your experience.
Here's a sample letter you could send to a school. It's based on an actual letter I've honed over the years to attract the best and brightest students from area colleges to work in my consulting and writing business.
You may have students who desire to learn the inner workings of a marketing consulting and freelance writing business.
The student who interns with us will gain the following real-world experience:
- Interviewing clients for press releases.
- Writing press releases.
- Pitching editors for placement of the releases.
While learning, the student will be supported by our staff as he or she gains knowledge and skills in the capabilities required for successful completion of these projects.
After a six-month internship, the student will be able to operate across the spectrum of public relations duties, including special events, media placement and writing for publication.
While we cannot guarantee that writing assignments would result in bylined articles, our previous four interns have all obtained bylined articles in the course of their work with us.
Here are the key qualities we seek in students:
- Sincere interest in writing for publication.
- Passionate commitment to quality work and reliability.
- Willingness to be part of a team and work well with others.
- Ability to maintain confidentiality of our clients' information.
We offer the following advantages:
- Flexible work hours.
- Nonsmoking environment where diversity is supported.
- Relaxed dress code, except when clients are involved in meetings.
Interested students should begin their contact with us by doing the following three things:
- Review our website (www.marketyourbusiness.com) to become familiar with what we do.
- Write a sincere letter about their interests and goals, along with two samples of their work and three references we can contact regarding the work attitudes of the student.
- Follow up with a phone call to set up an appointment.
Thank you in advance for your assistance. We look forward to giving you feedback on their progress and performance.
Pete Silver is a homebased entrepreneur who's launched several successful businesses from his home over the past 20 years. He's also a creative marketing specialist and author who travels widely as a speaker and seminar leader. To find out more about Pete or his coaching service, log on to www.MarketYourBusiness.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.