A Strategic Growth Method Every Manager Should Consider

January 03rd, 2019 Jennifer DiFolco


If you ask the managers at your organization about the top challenges they face, we’re willing to bet that “finding and hiring the right people” would be somewhere near the top. At least we know that’s the case for many of the managers from around The Agora Companies.

And yet, there is a proven hiring and strategic growth method that many managers overlook. We’re talking about interns.

This past summer, one of The Agora Companies brought on the type of intern we like to call “a Jill of all trades.” Her role couldn’t be well-defined up front, but we worked with the manager to find the right person – someone drawn to their business, willing to do just about anything to contribute, but most importantly, someone smart and polished. That someone eventually built them a new website from scratch.

In another part of The Agora-sphere, two interns were tasked with researching the socio-history of the buildings that make up our Mount Vernon campus. Their findings are now being used to develop a novel.

Another intern audited marketing campaigns, launched new ones, and ultimately decreased the team’s costs and significantly increased its conversions.

In short, none of these interns were filling coffee orders. They were doing real, meaningful work.

And yet, not every manager or company is willing to invest in an internship program. Yes, it can cost time and money. But we’ve found that there are a lot of benefits that out weight the costs.




1.) THEY MIGHT BECOME A FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE. More than half of the interns that we brought on over the past few summers were offered full-time positions. And by helping to get these guys in the door early, managers ended up saving themselves time, money and a good bit of frustration down the road.

2.) YOU CAN FOCUS ON HIRING FOR CULTURAL FIT. When hiring interns, we don’t always know what they will end up doing or what their role will be. Capability and skills are important. But what’s even more important is hiring smart, hungry candidates who appreciate what it means to work for one of The Agora Companies, know how to take initiative, and want to make things happen. With the right leadership and guidance, technical skills will come later.

3.) INTERNSHIPS ARE GREAT PR. Businesses with developed internship programs are perceived as more forward-looking. By putting money and effort behind bringing in young professionals, you are reinforcing the message that you seek new and fresh ideas and perspectives.

4.) ONE GREAT INTERN LEADS TO MORE GREAT INTERNS. People talk. Interns who enjoy what they do here tell their families and friends about their experiences, and the projects they worked on. When we want the world to know about all of the opportunities at The Agora Companies, these folks are some of our best resources.

If you know someone who is looking for the ultimate internship experience, send them here or have them contact Talent@14west.us. That is, if they’re smart, enjoy thinking, want to learn, and are determined to succeed. So please, if this sounds like you or someone you know… don’t spend your summers fetching coffee.

Jennifer DiFolco

Director of Strategic Hiring Initiatives at 14 West

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

I love being able to contribute to the growth of 14 West. The most exciting part is the challenge that it presents. Sometimes you advertise for a job but get a low response rate. I like to use that opportunity to get creative. You have to dig a bit deep, and the challenge can be exciting. Working at 14 West has allowed me to work with a really amazing team. We work hard but have a lot of fun, and we are continuously collaborating and pushing each other to be more innovative and creative in our recruiting efforts. The office is often chaotic, but entertaining. Working at 14 West means being willing to do something that needs to get done even if it’s outside of your job description. No task should be below you or too small for you to do. You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

What is your favorite company event of the year? I love the White Elephant Gift Exchange that we do every year. It is always so much fun, and people can get really silly with it. Almost every year there is a framed picture of our CFO circulating that everyone really wants. It’s funny seeing people walk out disappointed at the end when they don’t get it.