The Power of the Intern

Ahh, the beauty of the intern. Youthful energy, a fresh perspective, a desire to learn – what’s not to love? Apparently there are objections, because this vast, ever present resource is largely untapped from year to year. Businesses are ignoring one of the greatest hiring opportunities there is, and consequently, putting far too much of their own time into projects and tasks that interns can do. Let’s debunk one of the most common intern myths.

Myth : I can’t afford to pay an intern, and who would want to work for free?

The first reaction to this thought may be to post internships that are unpaid but provide class credit. Companies frequently find that they can legally avoid paying interns a minimum wage by offering credit, and although that has historically been an option, it’s quickly becoming a very popular one. There is a growing movement to prove that unpaid internships are illegal when the employer receives any “benefit” from the interns work. Therefore, it is highly recommended to include an hourly wage with the credit offerings. Not only does this prevent any future legal repercussions, it also encourages interns to be fully invested in their work. If the credit offered through their academic program is graded on a pass/fail basis, interns may feel their attendance will get them by. Treating them like the adult that they are and compensating them for their efforts will promote desired behaviors on the job.

Hiring an intern can also help minimize the amount of time spent on hiring full time employees in the future. Once it becomes financially viable, you may find that your new Project Manager is already on the payroll. Such was the case for me at Verde Martin. I started out as a one-day-a-week intern, and was offered a full time position upon graduation. The benefit to me being that I didn’t have to go through a grueling and stressful job search. The benefit my employer was not having to spend valuable time searching for and training someone new. I was already well acquainted with the company’s services and goals. Promoting an internship as a possible lead-in for full time employment will help your opening stand out among the many more limited jobs available to students.

“But wait, I still don’t have the money,” you say. Paying an intern must be viewed as an investment. Consider how many additional clients or hours of work you could take on by delegating tasks to another individual. Chances are, the money invested in an intern for 5, 10, or 15 hours a week can be recouped. Additionally, there are many state programs designed to encourage employment by reimbursing businesses for intern wages. The Intern Nebraska Program, for example, awards grants of up to $5,000 to qualifying employers. The application process is relatively simple, and their staff is available to help along the way.

At Verde Martin, utilizing interns has positively impacted our productivity. We hope the every business will take the time to create an intern strategy that will benefit both the organization and the student.

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