By: Andrew C. Jackson, President, BravoTECH, Inc.
Last June, I phoned my neighbor’s daughter after her first year of engineering school at the University of Oklahoma. She had been our favorite house and dog sitter for years, and I was anxious to schedule her for our upcoming vacation. To my dismay, I learned that Emily had found a more meaningful and lucrative way to spend her summer: interning for an engineering firm in Dallas.
I applauded my young friend’s initiative for using her summer to gain business and life experience rather than just earning a few dollars. And I thought how lucky the engineering firm was to have a reliable, straight-A student on their staff. Interns can offer enthusiasm, energy, and a willingness to learn at a bargain price – and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
Top 10 Reasons to Hire Interns
- Professional internships can supplement your current staff with an infusion of energy, new ideas and different skills. The students often bring with them a ‘can do’ attitude and an enthusiasm for applying their university-gained knowledge.
- Interns are highly motivated, short-term employees that can help you complete projects that you don’t currently have the bandwidth to accomplish.
- By securing or payrolling interns through a staffing firm, you can save the time and money needed to acquire and administer these resources. If your FTE budget is frozen, classifying interns as temporary employees might allow this expense to be applied to other available budget lines.
- If your business could benefit from foreign language skills, universities are a great place to find them. It should be fairly easy to find a student who is fluent in English and one or more foreign languages.
- Internships are an ideal way to increase the capabilities of a small staff with little additional investment. Traditionally, interns were seen only at large corporations, but many of today’s students are interested in entrepreneurship and seeking a small company experience.
- Internship programs help an organization identify potential future hires. The CIO of the Young Presidents Organization uses internships as a low-risk recruiting tool to ensure a strong IT organization in the future. “It’s a good idea to develop relationships with the schools,” he says, because “in a few years their graduates may be in high demand.” By working with professors at local colleges and universities, he is able to attract some of the best and brightest students to his IT department.
- Interns are more interested in building their resume than building a nest egg, so they are diligent workers. According to Eric Farr of Brigham Young University, interns are engaged and will go the extra mile to ensure that you provide them with a glowing reference.
- Interns offer inexpensive, skilled labor without adding full-time headcount. They are a good alternative when budgets are tight, especially considering the fully loaded costs of a full-time employee (which include salary, bonuses, payroll taxes, and benefits).
- Interns can be assigned to newer managers to further their management training and experience.
- Interns help your business stay agile and competitive by matching human resources to current business requirements. As temporary or part-time employees, they reduce the burden of layoffs when business slows. On the flip side, interns who are available full-time during the summer months may be able to work 15-20 hours a week during the school year if you still need them — but the option is always yours.
In addition to these advantages, internships are a wonderful way to help build the workforce of tomorrow. If you are thinking about augmenting your staff with an intern this summer, most local universities have an organized internship program with directors who can help match your organization with the right candidates.
The following article was previously published in 2009.