The Ethics of Hiring InternsCheap labor! Free labor! Errand boy! Errand girl! This is a very BAD way to view the benefit of hiring interns.We were all their age at one point and eagerly seeking the opportunities that may lead to that first and hopefully substantial paycheck out of school. I have seen interns who are respected and challenged thrive and gain valuable insight into the world after university. I have also seen interns whose employers abused their good intentions, grow cynical and fail at their positions. There could not be a worse squandering of professional development time for a student who has only a finite number of summers during which to gain valuable experience.A company seeking to grow through an internship program must include the following key elements (not listed in order of importance) in order to succeed:
The employer must view the internship program as an interview process with the intention of filling a predetermined number of positions within their company. If there is no throughput of an intern to ultimately having a position in the Company, your internship activities could be short-lived. School don’t like that. Interns don’t like that.
The student must be willing to work hard to learn as much as possible and if they are not being challenged sufficiently, they should “push back” and ask for more challenging assignments.
The employer must provide constructive and timely feedback to interns (both good and bad) so they learn valuable insight into the business world.
The intern is growing in their experience and the employer must be willing to receive
The employer should work to provide feedback to the university on the quality of their student.
The intern must be humble. Yes, they may have excellent energy and intelligence, but they lack experience and must realize this so they are not perceived as arrogant or worse.
Finding the “right” interns for your organization is as important as hiring the “right” full time or part time paid employees. There are significant costs associated with interns as with employees.Interns should be…
attend a school that encourages internships
good technicians in the field of their particular study – accounting, graphics, marketing – they cannot be expected to know how to bridge the wide gap between course study and practical application of skills in the “real world.” That’s your job as employer mentor to show them how to bridge that gap.
Interns should be seeking the internship to gain experience, therefore rounding them out and making them employable following graduation.
As the employer, you should create very clear job descriptions. You should define what expectations you have of the intern and vice versa that will yield a resulting experience that you both will consider success upon completion. Since most internships have a defined starting and ending date, it generally behooves all parties to have a project-based responsibility with clear job description and clear expectations.Remember, an intern does not usually have the benefit of “real world” experience yet, so they will need to be guided.For example…Marketing Internship Job DescriptionCompany A, a New York-based Advertising & Marketing firm is offering a project-based internship to one (1) individual who demonstrates in interest in a career in advertising and marketing. This position will run between three (3) and six (6) months beginning as soon as July 2011.The expectations for a candidate for this position are as follows:Candidate shall be anticipating graduation in 2012 or 2013 (Junior or Senior)Student must be currently enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree program with a major or concentration in marketingStudent must be articulate, thoughtful and must demonstrate excellent communication skills (both written and verbal)The responsibilities for this position shall include but not be limited to the following:Segment and analyze Company A’s existing client databaseo Current clientso Former clientso Identify opportunities to provide additional services to current and former clientsSegment and analyze the greater New York business communities based on:o Company sizeo Industryo Current marketing initiativeso As a result, candidate will identify and communicate selling opportunities in an organized manner to Company A’s management team.The True Cost of InternsCreating an internship program can be a great strategy in growing your Company but it is important to understand the true costs of doing so. The following is a list of costs that your Company may incur when embarking on an internship program:
Wages, if offered
Expense reimbursement, if offered. Generally, companies do not pay a wage but may offer expense reimbursement. They may not even offer an expense reimbursement.
Resources – computer, desk space, materials
TIME! This is the most overlooked and perhaps the greatest cost to an internship program. If you are not prepared to have interns or bring them on board too soon, you will have an organization breakdown. The interns will be frustrated and bored, while your time will be wasted rather than being spent on other critical business functions.
A more formal internship program may qualify the student for credit with their University, which is an enormous benefit to the student.