Internship programs have long been viewed as contingencies: a way for students to build their resumes and for companies to “pay it forward,” while reaping the benefits of low-cost labor.
More recently, though, companies are starting to reevaluate the importance of internship programs—and for good reason. Here are a few reasons to get serious about your company’s internship programs:
Internships are a way to build a “farm team”: According to a recent article in from the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine, “70% of companies say that high school students who complete their programs are either ‘very likely’ or ‘completely likely’ to eventually land a college internship with their company. And 45 percent said that high school internships will ‘very likely’ or ‘completely likely’ turn into a full-time job at their company.”
By employing student-interns, companies are able to scout young talent early on. Sure, these students may not be ready for the “big leagues” yet, but investing in interns may pay off in the long run.
Interns often bring a fresh perspective on organizational issues: If you encourage an open and creative work culture, you may be surprised by what student-interns can bring to the table. Because they have a fresh perspective, interns are often good at questioning processes. They can breathe new life into a company by challenging business as usual, or “the way we’ve always done it.”
Internships often lead to something more: Think about it this way: Interns already know your organization and what’s expected of them. You, in turn, are familiar with their style of work, strengths and areas requiring improvement, work ethics, and interpersonal skills. One could say that you’ve had a chance to try one another out before making a commitment—and if it’s a good fit, it’s a win-win for both you and the intern.
Interns are excellent brand advocates: Hiring an intern helps spread the word about your company. If you’re an impressive internship supervisor and mentor, your interns will probably talk about their experience with peers, friends and family members, essentially advertising for your organization.
Interns can help with projects or tasks that you’re struggling to complete: Most companies have a laundry list of projects that live off in the periphery somewhere. They’re not entirely forgotten about, but they never get finished because they aren’t an immediate priority. Use your interns wisely. Instead of having them stuff envelopes, run errands, and make photocopies, dust off some of these forgotten projects. Give your interns the opportunity to do real, meaningful work.