The Untold Benefits of Internship Programs That Employers Don't Talk About
Internships serve a great many purposes, with the best ones centred around giving students real-world experience and insights with a view to preparing them for graduate employment. But what sometimes goes a little under the radar is the benefits internship programs can bring for businesses as well. In particular, internships present a real opportunity for managers and business owners to look at their business in a different way, improve business practices and boost productivity.
1. The process brings clarity to what you do
One of the first things you have to tell a new intern is what the company does, and what it stands for. If that’s something you struggle to do, then you’ve identified a problem but also an opportunity to fix it. Having interns can help highlight these problems and bring clarity both to you, and your staff, around your organisation's purpose and values.
2. You generate great word of mouth
Students these days are extremely vocal about their day-to-day lives, both in the real world and online. If you run an internship program that provides great training, mentorship, insights and perspectives, you'll effectively create new brand ambassadors who talk you up to their friends, family, online network and beyond. And as everyone knows, word of mouth is just about the best PR there is!
3. They keep you clued in to a key demographic
Whether it's preferred modes of transport or content consumption, or as trivial as things like slang and taste in memes, younger demographics are constantly adapting and are therefore difficult audiences to capture. Having interns around your office offers insights into the behaviour of these highly elusive market segments. This can not only make your business more aware of key groups, but more versatile in how you approach them.
4. They can cut down on hiring time
There’s nothing worse than investing time and energy in on-boarding new staff, only to have that person decide they don’t want to stay after they get to know the company! With an internship, all these questions are already answered and the business is a known quantity. So, when you offer an intern the chance at graduate employment, the rate of retention is likely to be much higher. This means you're able to focus on running your business, rather than having to constantly get waylaid by hiring.
5. It offers new insights into the digital world
Every company knows the importance of a digital presence and reputation these days. While older workers can, and often thrive with digital technology, interns are living it and have a more nuanced view. That means they can provide some of their own real-world insights as to which platforms are taking off, on the wane and best for certain activities like finding out which social media influencer to work with for a skating business. A better understanding of newer technologies means you'll not only be more efficient, but more adaptable to shifts in media consumption and consumer behaviour.
6. You create a talent pool
Getting the real measure of someone as a person is often something you can only do when they’re already on the job – and by then you’ve already invested considerable time, effort and money. By hosting interns, you effectively get to test their suitability, meaning you get to see who works under pressure, who absorbs new information easily and who slips seamlessly into the office culture. And that way, when a graduate employment opportunity arises, you already know just the right person, or people, for the job.
Of course, the benefits of an internship program don't just end there. Chances are, you'll discover benefits you didn't even know existed within the first few weeks of having an intern around. Just remember, while interns may love being in the middle of a workplace, they're there as part of a value exchange - to learn, just as much as they are to help.
For information on relevant pay rates, Fair Work has valuable resources for Australian employers including a pay calculator.
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*This blog was originally was written by Robelen Bajar back in May 2016, and has been republished.