I am working in Mexico for a financial company. Some months ago I got a task to develop all the software needed in the company.

I have a 3 person team dedicated for developing the company software. We're using Scrum and I think we are doing a good job. However, sometimes I feel I need more people in order to move faster so I was thinking about internships.

How do you manage internships? What kind of tasks should be assign to these people?

EDIT: I caught the idea, I can't use internships to accelerate the project, I will use it to cultivate new talent instead. My biggest problem is that in my town there are not as many developers as I wish, so it's a problem to hire talented people, and not many people like the idea to come to this town, they prefer the big cities.

4 Answers 4


Internships are usually a way to find inexperienced people, train them and sometimes decide whether you want to bring them full time. For an employer it is a low-risk occasion to verify intern's skills and for intern it is a great way to learn new things and see how their potential employer works.

I hardly know any situation when an experienced professional went to internships.

Considering all that, when you think about interns you should assume you will probably need to spend more time with them than you would with experienced professionals. It is so basically because they're less experienced so the gap between their skills and your expectations it just bigger. It also means that statistically you need more time to develop interns into full-blown specialists.

On the other hand internships are usually a worthy investment as first, you can teach interns things you want or like, fine-tuning their skills to your needs. They also likely cost you a bit less even once they are developed specialists. Finally, it is a very good way to verify whether they suit your team or not -- you ground your decisions with a couple of months of work instead of a couple of hours of interview.

All in all, I would decide on internships basing on your specific needs:

  • Do you need someone adding value fast or you have comfort of working in a longer perspective?
  • Do you have enough money to bring up developed professionals or you need to count every penny?
  • What is a time perspective of projects you're talking about? Few months or a few years?
  • What would be the impact on the project of the wrong decisions in recruitment? Would it harm the project much or you can deal with consequences?
  • How much time you can spend supporting new people in the team?

Basically if you have enough time to invest in internships and you think about longer perspective it is usually a good idea. On the other hand, treating interns as a rescue team most of the time makes a situation only worse.


What level of interns are you planning on hiring? Generally when you bring a new person onto a team (regardless of which practice you are following) you will move slower over x number of iterations until the new hire is up to speed on your processes, development practices and business knowledge. The time it takes to get a person up to speed is very much dependent on their skill level and ability to learn. Generally an intern will take exponentially longer to get "up to speed" than an individual who has several years of experience.

Personally I have never managed intern's any differently than I have managed salaried employees. They are part of your team and should be treated as such.

In terms of tasking it is entirely dependant on their skill level. You probably don't want an entry level position assigned a task to architect the framework of a financial piece of software.....

If you want to move faster (sooner vs later)...hire experienced developers ideally with some interest or knowledge of SCRUM and agile processes and a few years of experience in the technology your team is using.

  • 2
    Trying to move faster by hiring inexperienced people makes no sense at all. Aug 19, 2011 at 11:43

Internships are a fine idea for creating a "try before you buy" experience for both the hiring manager and the candidate in question. However, you should go into the situation realizing you will need to make a substantial investment in the individual, and in the short term, it will likely slow you down and drain resources. It's not appropriate as a way to accelerate your project; this should be done by hiring experienced people (possibly on a contract basis) who can hit the ground running and don't need supervision or coaching.


I've used interns/co-op students in the past, they only do well if you put them in a position where they can't cause much damage. Their best use is doing menial, tedious, repetitive work that needs to get done so that you can free up more talented/experienced personnel.

If you need more bodies but don't have many applicants a better approach could be to work as a virtual team with experienced personnel at remote locations. You will take a bigger hit up front in terms of costs than by hiring an itern, but I will bet you will save so much money, time, corporate reputation etc etc in the long run that the virtual team will pay for itself.

You should also think carefully about make-or-buy decisions for your company's software requirements. If you can buy something off the shelf it will reduce overall workload so you should be able to deliver what is on your to-do list more efficiently.

  • A virtual team sounds like a good idea, I will think about it. Thanks.
    – Alonso
    Aug 31, 2011 at 16:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.