Internships: What Are They, and Why They Are a Win-Win

Intern and Business OwnerAn internship program in your company can be a true business win-win. You can:

  • Add more energy to your workplace
  • Test-drive potential talent
  • Find future superstar employees
  • Contribute to the education of a young person.

Let’s look at what internships are all about.

What is an Internship?

An internship program in your company encourages potential future hires, students and other driven learners to work with you and your people more as learners than doers. Instead of trying to figure out how things really work by reading textbooks, they actually do real work in real companies, like yours, with real consequences – the best learning environment.

Intern tasks are many and varied – from coffee to concepts. For instance, an intern in your marketing department may spend a day doing:

  • Making sure all the office printers are full of paper.
  • Offer, and possibly develop, advertising ideas for one of your clients.
  • Create marketing and programming liaison.
  • Learn about social media, and implement your social program.
  • Report on a book that is of value to your team, but that they don’t have time to read.

A truly varied day that is good for the intern and good for the company.

Do Businesses Benefit from Interns?

Let’s look at a few of the reasons why your company may benefit from an intern. First, it’s a great way to test drive potential employees at very low risk. With no long-term contracts or obligations, it is easy to weed out interns what won’t work out, and retain the people who will be good for your business and also enjoy working with you. Since most internships cost little or nothing( for instance, student interns are often paid by their school and will get credit for the time working with you), the, “budget for failure” cost gets very small. And often, people who want to work as interns are already: Curious, driven, intelligent and self-starting.

These, usually young, people bring in new perspective and vision. Interns frequently are college students, and they are studying right at the cutting edge, writing, graphic design, various computer tools, etc.

Many businesses feel that interns are cheap or even free labor. I don’t think this is the right approach. Paying an intern for their time and knowledge makes sure that you, the business owner, know the value of their value, and helps them establish good working habits. And I don’t think that people who work for free are giving their best. So if you may hire an intern later, paying them for their intern time helps you better evaluate their qualities as a prospective employee.

And this really is an excellent way to, “give back” to the community.

, you get to give back to your community and to students. For many students, the opportunity to work in an online business is a once in a lifetime chance. They get to work instead of a corporate ladder. It’s exciting for them and a total win/win for everyone.

Do Interns Benefit?

So why would interns want to work for you for free (or very little money) – what’s in it for them?

First and foremost, they learn real world skills in a fast paced, profit driven environment. Working with you, they may be exposed to, and gain experience in: analytics tracking, PPC or media buying, copy-writing, graphic design, web design, fulfillment management, content production, multimedia production, product creation, etc. Skills that enhance resumes and that can’t be learned from books.

It’s one thing to learn about Google AdWords from a textbook. It’s something else entirely to do keyword research, to set bids, to write ads, to track results and to refine a real campaign. A textbook can explain things theoretically, but the experiences an intern gains from working in your office in the real world is invaluable.

Interns also come into your company looking to see what it really looks and feels like to work in a company in the real world, not the isolated academic community. And your company can provide that opportunity. Plus, this, “foot in the door” can be a pathway to a full time job that, in today’s employment environment is a great help.

According to 2007-2008 data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), over 65% of interns were ultimately offered a full time position. And almost 90% of those interns ended up taking that position. In other words, interns generally employers they like, and employers find valuable employees to hire.

Interns learn working in the front lines of a real business, and businesses find good future employees at a very modest cost. So internships really are a win-win.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~ William James

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