You Get What You Pay For: Making The Case For Paid Internships
Stop groaning, entrepreneurs. You need interns just as much as they need you. You're hiring them because you need temporary help, and an extra body in the office never hurts. In return for their work, you're giving them some firsthand experience and skills they can use later in their careers. Here's the thing: paying interns isn't anything new. It's almost standard procedure in the tech sector for interns to receive high salaries in addition to some money for rent (Pinterest pays interns US$7500/month plus $1500/month for rent). What's in it for you? Believe it or not, paying interns to make sure they can at least handle their monthly cost of living is incredibly beneficial for your business.
Providing paid internship programs will reap benefits as early as the HR stage. You obviously don't want to bring in just anyone- you're looking for someone with tons of energy, enthusiasm, and a good skillset. Providing good financial incentives will reel in some quality applicants, who can really kick things up a notch at the office and be an asset, instead of being just another body fetching coffee. Of course, that's only relevant if you're looking for an intern to do more than just photocopy paperwork and answer phones.
Let's talk about money and growth (two words that "treps truly love). Your interns can play a huge role in helping you out on those two fronts. Your skilled, enthusiastic, and well-compensated intern will do more than just scroll through social media feeds during team meetings, they'll actually contribute. I can easily think of two hypothetical scenarios off of the top of my head:
1. You're short on time and need to finish a few major projects, and you simply cannot disappoint your client. If you nail it, there are many more opportunities on the horizon. If you don't, you can wave this potential long-term financial relationship goodbye. Your staff might be exhausted, but your intern is motivated, determined, and willing to get the job done to make an immediate impact in the primary years of their career. This also applies to the non-profit sector, who need to guarantee annual grants to keep their organizations going.
2. Situation number two revolves around innovation. It's hard to keep up with certain trends when your small business consists of 10 employees all over the age of 40 who haven't delved into the new marketing strategies. Your intern on the other hand, most likely a fresh grad out of college, is likely very well-versed with digital trends in social media and business technologies. That intern could inspire or play a part in an idea that could be a goldmine for your business. Wouldn't it be nice if you gave that intern a "thank you" cheque for their hard work?
Interns, being people too, also hope to keep developing their careers. Your intern could be a future employee- the long-term possibilities are endless. Should your internship program not only be a positive growth experience for your interns, but also be one that financially compensates them for their hard work, you could find yourself a dedicated employee for the future. And why not? They've already spent time working in that exact space and work environment, and they're already apart of your team. Sure, that intern isn't handling the most complex tasks, but they're still working. They still commute on a daily basis, and usually clock regular office hours (if not putting in overtime to prove themselves).
These days, a certificate acknowledging an internship alone isn't going to cut it. The job market is terrible, and fresh university grads are struggling to make ends meet with many shackled by debt incurred during their degrees. So why not give them a salary? The amount of energy and creativity interns bring into an office space is second to none. It's the least you could do.