The idea of an internship has changed and adapted over the years, but one thing remains the same – internships can prove hugely rewarding for both the intern and the employer, when done right.
However, the concept is not without its pitfalls and so it’s worth looking at some pros and cons of internships for businesses.
What is an internship and what does it offer?
An internship is a period of work experience that can be paid or unpaid, as the main purpose is for the intern to gain experience. The length of the internship is different depending on the type of industry.
Typically, internships are for students at college or university, to gain some work experience in “the real world” – but they can also be for more experienced workers looking for a career change.
For students, you might work as an intern over a summer or during a semester or quarter with your classes, and some internships allow you to receive college credit upon completion.
Or if you are looking for a career change, you might find a part-time internship for a short period of time before you leave your current work.
Internships can help you gain valuable work experience, meet a study requirement, or give you material to add to your resume. They can introduce you to many aspects of full-time employment while allowing you to explore your interests and form your personal career goals.
The students’ perspective
An internship is often the most exciting experience of the students’ careers as it is the introductory stage of their professional career.
Regardless of what profession you enter, an internship can offer:
- an opportunity for you to learn different ideas, etiquettes and workflow processes
- internships have also become bridge transition from university to professional life
- a chance to gain hands-on knowledge from the new types of activities
- gives a place where you can meet professionals to start building connections for the future
- opportunities to develop soft skills and interpersonal skills such as professionalism, cultural sensitivity, time management
- a strengthened resume as well as support for your potential future job
- an unprofessional environment may make it difficult for interns to ask questions due to a fear of being judged
- job scope can creep up and soon the intern finds they are just the person doing all the jobs no one else wants
- if it’s an unpaid internship, you need to make sure you have secure finances
The employer’s perspective
It is important to have realistic expectations of what can be accomplished during the internship.
- recruiting an intern can be a short-term profitable strategy for a company
- many interns are younger than the existing team so they can bring interesting and different views and perspectives which can lead to innovation and creativity
- many interns will come with valuable skills such as social media management and technical experience
- a passionate candidate with a strong desire can help the projects or tasks that the organisation struggling to complete
- managing an intern will take time and energy (however this may be ultimately beneficial for the company as they are forming and moulding good practices at the beginning of a career – hopefully!
- the internship program can be an additional drain on resources as it can be very costly for the company – even if you’re not paying for the internship there might be other costs such as supplying laptops, equipment or uniforms, and staff training hours
- you may need to account for potential misunderstandings or costly mistakes in their work – this is all a part of their learning process
Should interns get paid
The topic of interns getting paid or not is still controversial.
On one hand, the student is not there to earn money, but rather to earn valuable knowledge and experience. They most likely won’t have much experience to offer the company and will need a lot of supervision.
However, a good intern can contribute considerable benefits to the company and therefore their contributions should be acknowledged even if not financially compensated.
It really depends on the structure of your organisation, the type of work the intern will be carrying out, the hours involved, length of time etc, as to whether you set it up as a paid or unpaid internship.
In Australia, there are laws governing internships, and they state that unpaid work experience or internships can be okay if:
- they’re a student or vocational placement, or
- there’s no employment relationship.
You can find out more about the internship guidelines here.
At InkBlotVA we give back to the community and enjoy teaching young people coming into the workforce how to act, and to hopefully give them some mad skills to maybe secure that first job.
With an intern, we can show how it benefits them to put their hand up for projects (learn information faster) and it’s a secure environment for them to learn without that pressure of “I’m gonna get fired if I don’t do this right the first time”.
So overall, as with most things there are pros and cons, it’s really about working out what is best for your business, and for interns, it’s about working out what is right for you.
Feel free to say hello! Click here to book a chat now! We can help you work through to do lists as long as your arm! Would you like to find an intern? Or a Virtual Assistant? We’ll help you get to the bottom of our never-ending task list and get you set up for future success.