Freelancers vs. Interns: What every startup should know before the next hiring round starts

30 Aug 2018

When you are expanding your team, it is important to examine all the options. For startups, the decision to bring a new team member on board should be taken carefully. Hiring options are many, however, each option comes with its risks, pros and cons. In times of great need, you will find yourself looking for freelancers, interns and short-term contract employees who can get the job done faster with a touch of creativity. Many startup CEOs and recruitment managers invest a lot of time in conducting interviews, going through applications and etc. Simply, it all depends on your objectives and expectations. Before you start the hiring process, you need to outline your objectives clearly. By listing down your expectations from hiring a new team member, you can save loads of time and effort.

Although there are major differences between a freelancer and an intern, they are both beneficial and can be great for your business. However, placing the right person in the right job is what distinguishes your startup from others.

Because we know the hiring process can be hectic and time-consuming, here is exactly what to expect from freelancers and college interns before taking the decision:

1. Hiring Freelancers

-       Pros

In order to avoid the skills mismatch, you need to be aware of the difference between freelancers and interns. A freelancer is someone who offers some kind of service to the businesses and is often engaged in multiple projects at a time. Again, it is all about your objectives, your short-term and long-term goals. Are you looking for an experienced employee with a specialization in a certain field to work on a specific project? If your answer is yes, then you should be hiring a freelancer.

In most cases, startups hire freelancers to work on a short-term project because they offer quality work with no or only minor supervision. So, independence is what defines freelancers as they are accustomed to working individually.

Most of them are also well-experienced, the thing that encourages startups to hire them on a project basis. They are also affordable to startups. Hiring a freelancer usually costs less than then hiring a full-time employee.

On top of that, startups hire freelancers because they are specialized. Most freelancers are experts in their fields, so quality and originality is guaranteed.

-       Cons:

However, what freelancers do not offer is stability. As much as they are beneficial, there is no guarantee that they will be available for upcoming projects. This is one of the challenges that startups face when they decide to hire freelancers.

To overcome this challenge, perhaps you need to make everything clear during the interview. Make your intentions clear and explain to them the possibility of extending the length of the contract.

2. Hiring Interns

-       Pros

Internships have become an important challenge for every student and fresh graduates. Doing an internship is beneficial for students as well as for startups. Startups are where creative people thrive and for that reason, hiring interns can be the biggest investment for your startup. College interns are not just energetic and eager to learn. They can also come up with a lot of creative and innovative ideas for your business. Their “fresh perspective” is thoroughly their greatest asset.

Another advantage of hiring interns is that they can multitask. For example, if you need an extra hand in the marketing or the finance team, you can always ask your interns to help out. Providing internship opportunities is also a great way to discover your future employees. Monitoring how interns tackle their work challenges will help you figure whether they are good fit for future hires. Hiring interns is also advisable if you are on a tight budget. Considering their relative lack of experience, interns are cost efficient, unlike full-time employees.  

During the past decade, internships have changed unconventionally, especially with remote internships replacing on-site internships for many reasons. With the rise of social media and advanced communication tools, many startups have decided to hire remote interns. The idea of interning remotely is not new, however, it is spreading fast among startups in Europe and in many parts of the world. So, if you are into expanding your talent pool, it is time to start looking for interns beyond your geographical area.


The only disadvantage of hiring interns is that they constantly require supervision. Most of the time, you will have to keep a close eye on their work, especially in the beginning. This can be time-consuming, however, if you are lucky enough to find great interns who can work with minimum supervision, you have saved yourself a lot of hassles.

How to hire a remote intern?

If you are interested in hiring interns, remote interns, in particular, you can easily send us a request. At InternsValley, we aim at connecting startups with young talents from different fields. Since the talent pool is becoming very competitive with hundreds of talented and qualified candidates, InternsValley will match your requirements with a qualified intern. We will help you find interns for the following roles: IT/Software Development, Online Marketing/Customer support, Design/UX and Sales/Business Development. For more information, check the Employer’s section at InternsValley.

By: Menna Shalaby

Creative Content Intern

Strategic Partners