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Thank you for your responsiveness and your posts to Wikimedia-l. --Pine✉ 23:26, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Short-term intern and contractor productivity
Sorry that I wasn't at your office hour today. I did take a look at the logs.
I saw a couple of comments from Sue's office hour on Saturday that I thought I'd bring to your attention.
[2013-01-26 14:21:18] <jorm> typically you can expect a 2 - 3 month period before a new employee is productive.
[2013-01-26 14:21:25] <jorm> (that's true everywhere, btw.)
[2013-01-26 14:22:24] <sgardner> jorm, I think that's true -- that it's 2-3 months. But I also think that during that 2-3 month period, a number of people *around* the new person are less productive themselves. Because they are spending time coaching and orienting.
[2013-01-26 14:22:35] <jorm> this is also correct.
So based on this, I'm wondering whether using interns and short-term contractors at WMF makes much sense. Even "free" labor of volunteer interns isn't free if the productivity of regular employees is hampered for 2-3 months while interns get oriented.
I suppose that interns and contractors who are already experienced editors might be able to become productive rapidly enough that moving them into the office for a short while produces a net benefit, but judging from the comments from Sue and Jorm, I'd question whether non-Wikimedian and novice Wikimedian interns and short-term contractors produce a net benefit to the organization, especially once you consider the amount of time spent recruiting and selecting these individuals in addition to the time spent teaching them how to navigate the complexities of the Wikimedia organization and its myriad internal and external relationships.
I suppose that if an intern or short term contractor's job is highly focused then these individuals would require much less training so maybe hiring highly focused contractors would make sense. In the case of interns I think that having a constrained role like answering phones, routing mail, and completing routine paperwork would defeat much of the educational purpose of an internship.
I'd appreciate more information about how much training and supervision WMF invests in interns, how many hours they work each week, and how long their minimum terms are. And could you comment on the cost-benefit analysis for interns and short-term contractors in the light of the comments from Sue and Jorm? Also, if interns want to comment, I'd be more than happy to listen to them!
- Hi Pine! As you said above, it's pretty highly dependent on the role! I have a fabulous intern for 6 months helping with recruiting scheduling, and he picked up his skills within a week. He gets benefit from being part of key conversations he wouldn't necessarily otherwise be a part of, even though I think the work is tedious. The legal interns can weigh in, but given that a lot of legal work is research and summarization, experience helps in sorting, but that ends up being a great experience base with not necessarily a lot of background needed. Those ramp up more quickly. Often because a contractor is being hired for a very specific skill set that they're bringing in that meets an immediate need, while there is some ramp up time, it's not quite the same. There is also not the expectation that they have to navigate organizational complexities and its myriad relationships in different ways - a good manager of their contract or good boss would help them navigate that and mitigate the impact of not knowing those.Gyoung (talk) 06:00, 30 January 2013 (UTC)