Is hiring an intern really worth it?
It doesn’t seem possible, does it? Every year, all over Canada, hundreds of eager students are lining up at companies like yours trying to get that proverbial foot in the door. For a business, a successful internship can have a direct impact on revenue—after all, this person is working for free.
A recent debate, sparked by this Workopolis article , found some people questioning the practice, calling it “questionably legal free labour”. Let’s just debunk that myth right now—an internship handled wisely has hugely positive effects for both sides. As hiring managers, do you know how to make an internship work?
For a lot of industries, particularly creative ones like advertising, publishing, or audio and video studios, an internship is still seen as the only method available to enter the workforce. True or not, there lies opportunity to grab some young and enthusiastic talent at a bargain basement price (oh, and make yourself look really good too).
At their best, internships provide a real environment for students to use the theoretical skills or concepts they studied all year. I had a fantastic internship, and took some useful skills and published work along with me when it was over. Others I know spent 3 months picking up dry-cleaning.
It is in your company’s best interest to be a great place to intern. Why? An intern who enjoys their experience will communicate that to others in the industry. They will speak highly of your business in their future endeavours. And they will actually work hard.
Make it legit. As we discussed in the article by
Give them actual work.
Test them under (fake) pressure.
Give ‘em a taste. Some of the best experiences an intern can get are just being privy to meetings between bosses, managers, and executives. Presenting a project? Let them sit in. Brainstorm session? Even better. A lot can be gained from being a fly on the wall.
Toss out the word ‘intern’. A study out of the U.S. found that up to 58% of interns end up being future employees. And with the prevalence of similar education programs here, we’re betting those numbers compare in Canada. Think of an intern as a colleague and they’ll probably act like one.
Flexibility. As much as you want to test them out, keep in mind that an intern very likely has a part-time job as well. During my internship I was able to leave early sometimes to get to a bartending job on time. Having the freedom to do that (without fearing for my shot at a job) took some major stress off my shoulders.
Consider it ‘free training’. A great intern can become a great new hire. Not in the budget right now? It might be next year, and you have substantially reduced the learning curve (and the cost of onboarding) if you ever hire them.
Throw them a bone (or at least some lunch). Ok, so you can’t hire someone—but maybe there is room in the budget for a transit pass, a lunch stipend, or a small monetary bonus at the end of it all. Doesn’t sound like much, but to a broke and eager student the prospect of free food is very enticing.
Have you hired an intern for this summer? Tell us about your experience.