Here’s some depressing news for all you college students out there: nearly half of the nation’s recent college graduates work jobs that don’t require a college degree. Furthermore, the number of college graduates is expected to grow by 19 million between 2010 and 2020, while the number of jobs requiring a college degree is expected to grow by only 7 million. What does this surplus mean for college graduates? More competition. What does it mean for employers? More talented, young workers. Internships are becoming more and more common these days, as employers are starting to understand the mutual benefits of hiring an intern.
College students and recent college graduates understand the value of internships. An internship is a way to get a foot in the door with established companies. It’s a way to build up a resume, gain business experience, and even earn college credit. Also, paid internships offer young workers an opportunity to bring home some rent money without having to scrape together a meager living within the retail or fast food world.
Intern support can be very beneficial for employers as well. Interns are willing to do useful, time-consuming jobs, like data entry and organization. If you’re thinking about hiring an intern consider not just the amount of money, but the amount of time an intern will save you. Additionally, most interns are young and well versed in social media. They are full of fresh ideas that can help your company’s online presence. Think of an intern as an interviewee. After a while you’ll know if he or she is a good cultural fit for your company and qualified to become a full time employee.
Employers must weigh the pros against cons when deciding to take on an intern. Most importantly, is your business the kind that would benefit from intern support? In many cases, interns require a lot of hands-on coaching and training. At busy times, interns could add to your stress rather than alleviate it. You don’t want to have to worry about training your interns all day, or constantly finding tasks for them to do. This makes company-wide organization ever more important. Also, even unpaid interns can be costs. They may require resources such as: a phone, a computer, and other office supplies. Over time, these costs can add up. Just make sure that your interns are adding real value.
If you’re planning on hiring unpaid interns, be aware of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the FLSA, an unpaid internship must be: “similar to training which would be given in an educational environment, … be for the benefit of the intern, … (and) not displace regular employees.” Although there is a surplus of talented labor in the intern pool, most young people will only apply for unpaid internships with well-established companies that offer desirable future employment opportunities.