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Millennial Mindset: Should You Pay Your Interns?

15 February 2013 No Comment


By: Daniel Metz, Specialist, Web Marketing

William Shakespeare penned the statement some 400 years ago, “to pay or not to pay, that is the question,” I may have misquoted that…but the question applies for nearly all organizations today.

Nearly everyone could use an intern but not everyone can pay them. Hey why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, right? Because interns aren’t cows, they’re people.

In a recent survey conducted by Intern Bridge, the nation’s leading college recruiting research and consulting firm they found some interesting results:

  • 51.3% of students are not paid for their internship experience
  • 50.4% of students did an internship with a for-profit company
  • 51.4% of interns did not receive academic credit for their internship

As a (not so long ago) former three-time, paid and unpaid intern I’d like to give a few reasons why companies should be rethinking this.

Getting paid leads to better work

While I understand the point of an internship is to get your feet wet in the workplace and begin growing your network I don’t buy in that the only reward should be knowledge. Earning a paycheck makes one want to work harder, validates the effort and increases the intern’s interest in coming on full time.

You’re already investing the time

Whether it’s three, six or 12 months, organizations must invest time training and cultivating an intern. The little paycheck they receive every two weeks is just the tip of the iceberg, a promise of what could come. That little bit can go a long way in keeping talent in the building and putting money in your organization’s coffers for years to come.

Having a protégé is rewarding

Okay – I’ll admit I have not experienced this just yet, but I’ve helped those who have less experience than me. It may have been learning to ride a bike or throw a football but the principal is the same. Watching someone grow and succeed based on things you’ve taught them is a powerful feeling. You may not get that chance if you’re not keeping the junior staff around.

Every organization is different but they all have budgets and should seriously consider setting a little aside for that next cow, I mean intern.

Should interns be paid? Are you paying your interns? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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