Internships are important. Without one a student or graduate will struggle to get relevant work experience, build networks, learn practical knowledge and therefore will face difficulty finding full time employment.
It’s no secret that internships are beneficial to students, graduates and universities but exactly how are they beneficial to host organisations?
The feedback I have received after talking to various company and business representatives about internships for the last two years is mixed. However, there are some notable negative connotations associated with the word “internship” which are listed below.
“A waste of time and resources”
“Inexperienced and under qualified individuals”
“No value to my organisation”
“Slave labour and free workers”
The lack of knowledge and ill informed assumptions surrounding internships is a common theme which is detrimental to the community as a whole. As such this article is here to educate host organisations about the value of internships and to put to rest the negative connotations surrounding them.
1) Valuable Recruitment Processes:
Internship programs have been identified as a very valuable recruitment tool for organisations (Beard, 2007). Many businesses that were interviewed have utilised these internship programs as method of recruitment. Internships are a cost effective, low-risk means of sourcing future employees that can add value to the business (Mgaya, 2014). Mohaidan et al. (2016) also highlighted that interns were able to contribute as soon as they were hired resulting from learning organisation processes previously.
2) Integration of Research and Innovation:
Another benefit that internships offer is in the form of new industry knowledge which is taught by universities and transferred to businesses through students (Schambach, 2002). Interns are typically undergraduates and as such are currently completing their degree, a degree that is relevant to this age, not the world as it was 15 years ago. Many degrees have also evolved over time to cater for new research that has been added into the field which provides you with an intern equipped with the latest research and solutions to current problems.
3. Development of IP, products and content
Interns can provide host organisations with products and content that the organisation will retain after the internship is completed (Mgaya, 2014). Savvy web designers, content marketers and software developers are among some examples which can lead to valuable content for your organisation.
4. Low Cost Alternative to help Clear Work Backlogs
Interns have also been cited by some journals as a low-cost alternative to help clear work backlogs. Unpaid internships are illegal for employment based relationships in Australia however junior professionals and intern salaries are less costly than experienced employees.
5. Securing Graduates Early:
Taking on interns allows you to secure graduates early on in their career path (Schamback and Dirks, 2002). This is especially important in tight labour markets where foregoing these opportunities may leave you with a limited applicant pool. It also gives smaller to medium sized organisations an ability to acquire top talent before prestigious and lucrative multinational companies swoop in and take the top 10% of the graduate cohort.
6. Fulfilment of CSR:
Corporate Social responsibility has been identified by Caroll (1999) as having four major areas including legal, ethical, economic and discretionary/philanthropic responsibilities. Internships are considered to fulfil this corporate social responsibility (Mgaya, 2014).
7. Enhancement of corporate image (Mgaya, 2014):
Internships are one way that through branding; advertising; PR efforts; and the generation of brand advocates in the form of interns- that an organisation may improve its corporate image.
8. Ability to host Virtual Internships:
Given the evolution of technology and the gig economy there has been a rapid rise in the number of virtual internships being offered, which presents an entirely new internship experience for all involved. Managing a virtual internship may be less resource intensive for mangers and negates geographical limitations on talent engagement.
A survey by internships.com showed that 87% of employers said that internships were a positive experience.
10. Culture and diversity:
By bringing interns into organisations you are integrating a new demographic with specialised generational knowledge which is highly evident in fields such as social media marketing. Interns contribute to diversifying the workplace. Internships also allow you to bring in highly enthusiastic individuals (Swanson & Tomkovick, 2011) which can affect the dynamic of the team positively.
Does your company offer internships and if so what was that experience like? I would love to hear from more employers about this topic. Please comment below.
1. Beard, D. (1998). The status of internships/cooperative experiences in accounting education. Journal of Accounting Education, 16(3), 507–516.rnships
2. Mgaya K, Mbekomize C (2014) Benefits to host organizations from participating in internship programs in Botswana, Journal of Co-operative education.
3. Schambach, T., & Dirks, J. (2002). Students perceptions of internship experiences. In International Academy for Information Management (IAIM) 2002 conference (pp. 13–15). Barcelona, Spain: International Conference on Informatics Education.
4. Carroll, B.A (1999). Corporate Social Responsibility: Evolution of a Definitional Construct. Business and Society, 38(3) pp.268–295.
5. Mohaidin N,J., Supar M., Ibrahim, M, A., Sidik M,J (2016).Employers Perceptions of the Benefits of College Internship Programs (2004). Journal of Cooperative Education & Internships, 38(1) 45–52.
6. Swanson S, Tomkovick C. (2011). Perspectives from Marketing Internship Providers. Marketing Education Review 21(2): 163–176.