Marijuana Business Magazine August 2019

August 2019 | 75 P lant-touching and ancillary busi- nesses are developing internship programs to cultivate talented college students and graduates who are interested in careers in cannabis. From cannabis testing labs to dispen- sary software businesses, companies are opening their doors to students with the hope that when the top performers grad- uate, they’ll come on board permanently. High There, a cannabis-focused social media community based in Boca Raton, Florida, uses internships as an oppor- tunity to groom talent and hire interns when the program ends. “We’re looking to grow talent from within,” said High There Chief Operating Officer Squire Velves, who previously worked in the music and sports busi- ness industries. “In my experience, I have found it difficult to source talent from the open marketplace. It’s random resumes you get from everywhere.” Internships enable companies to evalu- ate potential employees’ talents and hire them for the appropriate position, added Velves, noting that people from the generation filling internships and landing full-time jobs today either have the skills or can learn them on the job. “It’s all about the work ethic these days,” he said. “The deciding factor for us is more so the work ethic than skill set. If you have a work ethic and a desire to learn and be inquisitive, that means you are willing to do the job.” INTERNS PICK THEIR WORK Boca Raton, Florida-based SpringBig, a cannabis customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty rewards software provider, brought on two interns in May. SpringBig lets its interns choose what area they want to work in after they get a feeling for the company and what it’s like to have a job. “When you’re an intern, you’re too young to know what a job is,” said Natalie Shaul, the company’s vice president of marketing. “We want them to be happy. Happy workers put out better work.” Take Michael Haynes, for example. In February 2018, the Florida Atlantic University student started as an intern in SpringBig’s sales department. Every day, Haynes received a list of retailers in his assigned region. His task was to call each one and try to get the dispensary’s manager on the phone to demonstrate SpringBig’s system on a shared computer screen. “After a few months, it kept coming up how I was a computer science major,” Haynes said. “They saw my tech background as an asset, and I transferred to product development three months after I started.” Haynes said he was learning more at SpringBig than he was in school, so he cut back on his course load to work full time at the company. Instead of completing his degree next spring, he’ll graduate with the class of 2021. At SpringBig, Haynes said he’s learning how a business is operated and how to write code and queries. And because he was among the company’s first employees, he’s seen how it has grown from the ground up. “I need that degree, but I’m still learning more at work than at school,” he said. Internships employing college students and recent grads allow cannabis companies to evaluate potential employees’ talents and hire them for appropriate long-term positions. Here are ways to find the right interns and structure a program: • Allow interns to work in a variety of positions so they can find their passion. • Pay interns more than minimum wage. • Provide an orientation program that covers your company’s policies and procedures, fire drills and evacuation procedures as well as human resources guidelines. • Make sure interns get hands-on experience working at your company. Squire Velves Courtesy Photo Michael Haynes Courtesy Photo Natalie Shaul Courtesy Photo