"The expert in anything was once a beginner." - Helen Hayes
In recent years, internships have become somewhat of a necessity for university students and jobseekers alike. With competition for jobs soaring, work experience is vital when it comes to standing out to employers. In the 2016 Graduate Market report, almost half of the recruiters who took part in the research stated that “graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.”
It’s easy to see then, why an internship is of benefit to the employee, but why is it of benefit for you as an employer?
If your interns are coming to you on a placement year as part of their degree, offering them an internship can be the start of a fruitful partnership for you. Some universities run learning at work programs, and allow their students to complete anything from four week placements upwards, meaning that, at busy times of the year, you’ll have a supply of willing and eager interns to join you and help you beat the rush.
A whole new perspective
Interns typically are younger. You’re looking at 18-24 being the average age, although as with anything there are exceptions. Bringing in a member of the younger generation can mean that your office is hit with a wave of fresh experience, new knowledge, enthusiasm, energy and a different perspective. Perhaps you’ve brought in an intern who is actually a member of your target demographic - awesome, use this to your team’s advantage, find out as much as you can from this person, conduct surveys with their peers, even just get their opinion on your new campaigns or marketing materials. Maybe your team have been looking at a project for so long that they cannot find inspiration. An intern coming in from a different angle, without emotional ties to the situation, could bring new ideas. Age doesn’t always equal wisdom and youth doesn’t always equal inexperience.
Hiring an intern is a fantastic way to give your existing staff members a chance to step up as leaders. Whether it is designing an internship program, acting as a mentor, or just welcoming the newest member onto their team, how your staff treat, respond to and hopefully elevate an intern will teach you a lot about their leadership and management styles, and whether they are ready to be given opportunities in those fields.
Practice makes perfect
Even if you design the most perfect, flawless internship program on paper, it’s likely that in practice, it won’t always go to plan. It’s no secret that even with the best prior planning, external factors can always have an impact on the results. With every new intern you bring in, your internship program has room to develop and grow, any teething issues can be ironed out and feedback can be garnered in order to improve the next, and even the current, experience all round.
Gaining brand loyalty
If an intern has a positive experience with your company, the word of mouth marketing and free advertising that you receive will increase. Emotional connection is important to consumers. Plus with social media usage at an all time high, and the ability to have one of your posts go viral without needing celebrity status, interns could generate valuable free exposure, and if nothing else, lifetime brand loyalty and awareness.
More interns = more manpower, except it’s more like bonus manpower! Is your response time down on social media? Are you late to the party on viral news stories, does your website content need a makeover? Are there staff training manuals that need updating? Assigning daily tasks to an intern can free up staff members to work on other tasks, or alternatively, it allows you to assign tasks that need completing, but an already stretched team doesn’t have the time for.
Hiring interns could be a real recipe for success for your company. The most important thing to remember is that interns should be treated just like everyone else - they’re a valid staff member who can bring a lot of value to the table.