Many businesses, large, small or solo operations, toy with the idea of starting an internship program. Make no mistake, starting and running a successful internship program is a big committment, but one that pays you back in many ways (not all financial). If you have been mulling it over and can’t decide, here are five reasons to start an internship program now.
1. Create a pipeline of future employees
When you are ready to add full or part-time staff, what better source of candidates than the people you already know? More frequently companies are turning to their previous or current intern pools first to fill open positions. In fact, according to the 2016 NACE Survey, employers offering interns jobs is at a 13-year high, “the average offer rate is 72.7 percent.”
As senior manager of a national internship program for nearly five years, I saw this trend increase year after year. The number of my graduating seniors receiving job offers before graduation continued to climb. There are not always openings at the end of the internship period, but many companies would offer previous interns jobs 1-2 years later when a job did become available.
2. Increase new employee retention
An internship is like a really long job interview. For 8-10 weeks or longer you have the opportunity to learn and observe if someone will be a fit for your team. For an intern, working at a company for a few weeks exposes them to the culture, management and work flow so they can determine if it is a fit for them as well.
One of the coolest calls I recieved as program manager was from a college recruiter at one of my host companies. Imagine my surpise when she told me one of my interns was being offered a job – 8 months before his graduation. He had impressed them so much over the summer that they knew they wanted to bring him on as soon as possible.
“His plans materialized during the fall of his senior year when he received a call from DIRECTV offering him a position as a Production Operator. He gladly accepted his first job before he even got halfway through his senior year….. Eric didn’t have to go through additional multiple interviews to get the job. The 12-week internship he completed was enough for DIRECTV to know they wanted him on their team.”
– The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams, Sharise Kent
3. Affordable help to grow your business
Internships can be paid or unpaid. There are however, many rules and regulations regarding the criteria for hiring paid vs unpaid interns. Even with a paid internship program, the compensation for interns is generally less than the cost of hiring a full or part-time employee. Affordable help should not be your main motivation.
The average private college tuition is just below $35,000 and the average public college tuition is right around $10,000. Those prices don’t include room and board. So, before you ask a young person to forgo a paying job for a free internship, be aware that while they would love the experience, they simply can’t afford to work for free.
Even when working at a small non-profit, we paid our interns. The help they provided in assisting us in meeting our mission was useful and very appreciated. I worked to integrate them into our team and in addition to a paycheck, provided learning opportunities they would not get in class. In turn, we received the assistance we needed during certain times a year, without the cost of onboarding new employees.
4. Motivated team members breath new life
Interns are largely super motivated new members of your team. For an intern, the opportunity to take what they have been learning in a classroom and see how it applies to real life is what they have been waiting for. Also, they are trying to put their best foot forward in hopes of getting hired. Motivated new team members can bring a shot of energy and enthusiasm that can reinvigorate others around them.
Working in higher education and career placement for nearly 20 years keeps me young. While traditional interns have much to learn, their is something to be said for their youth and energy.
5. Fresh perspective
When your brainstorming sessions are filled only with people who have been with the company for years, a fresh new perspective from an outsider might provide the spark for some new ideas. Current college students and recent graduates are aware of new trends, new music and may possess social media skills you need to reach a different generation. Hiring interns can bring fresh ideas and new approaches to old problems.
“This is not your coffee getting, paper copying, learn nothing type of deal. It was actually an intern who first proposed the idea of using text as the main platform and interns contributed greatly to the current website design.” – Kelly Peeler, NextGen Vest
Creating an internship program is about leading, teaching end empowering young people with knowledge, skills and training for future success. If you are not ready to lead and teach, you might not be ready to put together a winning internship program.
6. Giving back and being a mentor (bonus reason)
The best internship programs understand that the bigger picture is about helping develop future talent whether or not they will be working for you. Being a mentor, serving young people who are eager for success and giving students a look at the reality of what it is to work in their professions should be high on your list of reasons to start an internship program.
Great internship programs are about creating an experience that will benefit the intern and the business.
If you are ready to take the steps and get started with your own internship program, download my free guide, 10 steps to launching an internship program. Don’t keep waiting, make a move in the right direction and start planning your program now.
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