Internships, do they work?
Internships can fall into two extremes. At one extreme they can be a great stepping stone to getting valuable experience and building contacts which helps you get your first job. For companies, particular startups, interns can play a vital role helping the company grow when cash flow is non existent.
Internships can also go badly. Employers can exaggerate the experience they can offer, re-branding unskilled roles to be more than they are in order to get cheap labour. For employers internships can go badly too due to lack of commitment or hard work.
When do Internships Work?
Internships work really well when when both parties are honest about their expectations and what benefit they can provide each other. When this doesn?t happen problems arise on both sides. Interns need to fully understand what they are required to do in their role which often will include mundane tasks. Companies need to also be honest what role they are offering and not to try to embellish an unskilled role or replace paid staff with low/unpaid interns.
It?s very short term think to believe you can use interns solely to reduce your labour costs and not provide valuable experience. With the prevalence of social media it can result it a lot of negative publicity for companies who engage in this practice.
Internships work well when interns focus on both the experience they are getting as well as what they can do for the company. Companies need to understand for interns this is a stepping stone to finding a job. They need to provide the right experience as well as a reference to help them move their career forward. For companies which do this well there is the added benefit of repeat interns each year through recommendations either by word of mouth or through social media.
Running a good internship program can help reduce a companies costs as well as giving them an opportunity to hire talented people.
How can Internships be Improved?
Internships can be improved by following simple guidelines as well as allowing interns to leave public feedback for companies who run internships. The most important guideline is that both the intern and the company need to outline clearly what their expectations are and what each is going to offer in return. Any lack of transparency will cause problems for both parties. Even if the intern is working for free they should.
It is important interns have a means to leave public feedback for companies offering internships. This will allow two things to happen. First, future interns are better informed when deciding where to invest their time in order to gain valuable experience for their CV. Secondly, it will prevent companies in the long term from trying to take advantage of interns as they will be publicly named causing negative publicity.