The Value of Interns: Paid or Unpaid


Internships are requirements for many college degrees and a distinct pathway to new experiences when looking into new career fields. Some students are lucky to get vital work experience in their internship… others not so much. Are your interns getting more than your morning coffee?

Interns – paid or unpaid – are more than just volunteers. They sought out your company to learn the industry and prepare themselves for work after college. So in order to properly mentor these eager workers, give them something meaningful to accomplish during while they complete another degree requirement. If handled correctly, interns can be a dynamic and vibrant addition to your talent pipeline. 

Need Some Fresh Ideas?

Look no further. Interns bring with them a deluge of creative ideas. New people have the potential to initiate projects and new methodologies with energy and timeliness to spare. Many are well into their junior and senior years of college – the time when much of the degree targeted classes are taught and just a year to two away from entry-level talent. They are learning things other company team members may have forgotten under the burden of years of experience or during the daily grind, plus they can be eager to learn and quick to take direction from senior team members. Internships are designed to give college students experience; however, they can open doors for you and your team as well. 

Learning Curve(s)

Yes, students apply for internships in order to fill college requirements. However, they are with the organization to learn something. The best part – their supervisors can learn a thing or two as well. Interns allow leaders to perfect their managerial skills in addition to mentoring the next generation of the organization’s employees. This isn’t just a valuable opportunity for upper management but to fill the pipeline with your younger employees who have yet to manage more than your desk Ficus. 

Victor Lipman (@VictorLipman1) of Howling Wolf Management Training gave some guidelines on the best practices for managing interns:

  • Actually give them something to do – More than errand boys (and girls), interns can give back to the organization. Assign them tasks and projects that add value to the organization but don’t expose the company to risk. Most of them are new to the professional atmosphere, so offer guidance if needed. Ultimately, make sure they feel their work contributes to the company.
  • Give constructive criticism – Feedback is crucial to professional development and progression of your intern team. Good and bad, constructive criticism is motivational for you and the intern as you learn how to help them move forward.
  • Don’t forget about the evaluation – Let your interns know how their work impacted the organization. They’ve put a number of work hours into this learning process, so respect the time spent with an evaluation. Allow them the time to give their experience and what they learned as well.
Opportunity for Successful Recruitment

Your interns did a great job. You managed them well. Now turn them into your best asset, talent. Effectively turning your internship program into a recruitment tool is a way to lower your recruitment and onboarding costs. These individuals already know inner workings of the organization and have the training under their belt and chances are, they’re a cultural fit.

You’ve already got engaged workers on your hands, so why not save 76% in cost per hire? Convert interns from college students to full-time employees without the need for job listings, expensive advertising campaigns and tedious hiring cycles. However, it’s difficult to recruit interns to full-time positions if all they ever did was replace the binder clips. In fact, 63% of paid interns were offered full-time employment last year.

Rachelle Falls (@CorporateHRGirl), Founder & Chief Strategist of Sun Strategies said: 

“Right now, this millennial candidate wants to get to work and make a difference. They’re eager to be taught and to learn – all while putting their summer internship to good use.”

On a very basic level, internships are required for many degrees, though not all. The ultimate goal after graduation is to find a good job. So, it stands to reason that 32% of graduates who had an internship during their college career are fully employed.

This is an entry point for many interns into the professional world all while developing connections. Paid and unpaid interns are more than volunteers, they are students learning the inner workings of the professional world. As such, your team of interns should be doing more than getting just your morning coffee. Invite them to project meetings, give them a voice during the discussion, and see what kind of ingenuity sparks within your team. After all, hosting a robust internship program with well-developed training is an easy and inexpensive way to recruit the best and brightest for your team. 

Do you have the tools to get your internship training program off the ground? We can give you a lift.

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