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Blue @ Work

Good or bad? The verdict on offering internships in the workplace

5 reasons to hire an intern in your workplace.

Remember the days when companies hired interns as ‘cheap labor’ to run their errands, fetch every single morning and afternoon coffee, or even something as unrealistic as finding two bound copies of the unpublished manuscript of the latest Harry Potter book for the boss' kids (cue The Devil Wears Prada).

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a workplace that doesn’t have a college student — or in some cases now, high school students External Site — receiving real-life, hands-on experience within a corporate or nonprofit environment. Sure, there are always some minor administrative duties like with any job, but many internship programs offer the chance to learn valuable industry knowledge while working on real-time projects and tasks that affect the day-to-day or big-picture operations for a workplace.

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40 percent of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees who were former interns.

Retention rate for former interns is 16 percent higher than employees with no internship experience.

Employers can save $15,000 or more in training, hiring, and turnover costs for each intern they hire.

5 ways internships can positively impact your workplace

When you think of an internship program, it’s natural for your mind to drift to the costs associated, because as your HR or benefits administrator, you’re all about keeping the company bottom line in check.

While there will be costs to run the program, and pay the interns, there are a number of other benefits to your organization and employees.

It’s a win-win for both your employees and workplace.

  1. Find future employees.

    As an organization, you’re always looking for the best talent to fill roles within your company. By having an internship program in place, your workplace can gain a year-round recruitment tool. When it’s time to hire for a position, think of your star interns for the opportunity at hand. Not to mention, this could be less time spent on training a new employee, determining if they are even a good fit, or are capable of the job they interviewed for.
  2. Increase productivity and employee retention.

    Having a seasonal intern within your workplace can provide the opportunity for your employees to delegate certain tasks, which can help to avoid burnout.
  3. Enhanced perspective.

    Interns are great for bringing in new perspectives and finding new ways to do old tasks or projects. With this mentality, employees within your office can feel re-energized and inspired to think outside of the box.
  4. Give back to the community.

    Several businesses (small and large) rely on community support, and creating an internship program is a great way to give back to the community, economy and workforce as a whole.
  5. Foster leadership and mentorship opportunities.

    Do you have an employee who is looking for more leadership and development opportunities? Having an internship program in your workplace can allow for a mentee-mentor relationship to bloom, which can have a number of well-being benefits for employees. And, mentors are promoted six times more often than those who didn’t mentor, according to a study conducted by Gartner and Capital Analytics.

How to get started with an internship in your workplace

It’s important to have a plan and structure in place, even if you don’t have a full-fledged internship program. Have set tasks for them to accomplish and outline expectations so it's a good use of everyone's time and money. Here are a few questions to get started:

  1. What does your company want your intern(s) to accomplish?
  2. What company expectations and policies will need to be explained?
  3. What daily projects or tasks will be assigned to the intern throughout their employment?
  4. Who will be supervising, or mentoring interns?
  5. How will you evaluate the intern (e.g. midyear evaluations, project status reports, etc.)?
  6. How long will the intern work for the company?
  7. What questions will you gather from the intern post-internship?

Quick tips and tricks for a successful internship program

  1. Develop a clearly defined job description.
  2. Schedule regular performance reviews.
  3. Have enough work to divvy out.
  4. Provide opportunities for interns to participate in social gatherings.
  5. Show gratitude and appreciation.
  6. Provide opportunities for interns to ask questions.

We want to hear from you!

What are some great experiences or benefits you've seen come from offering an internship program within your workplace? Share your story by emailing us at Send Email. We look forward to hearing from you!