Working with an intern may sound like a hindrance to some — having to teach an inexperienced, young intern the ropes from scratch does not sound like fun. However, the benefits an organisation reaps when they groom an intern properly are well worth it.

 At InternSG, we believe that interns can become valuable assets to any organisation if they are groomed and given the opportunity to grow. We’ve prepared four reasons why you should consider opening up an internship position, or review and enhance an existing internship programme for young adults at your organisation.

Offer New Perspectives and Ideas

Interns belong to an entirely different generational cohort from their supervisors at management level and as such, they bring with them an alternate suite of ideas and outlook which might bring a refreshing change to the company. For example, they may be able to find more efficient ways of filing documents; or better ways to work collaboratively within the office by capitalising on apps like Trello, Glip, Slack and G suite.

Increase Productivity

Hiring interns not only provide help at a lower cost — they can help an organisation increase productivity.

When an intern is actively involved in a project that isn’t fetching coffee for the boss or photocopying documents, chances are they’ll be more motivated at work, resulting in better work performance. Being given important responsibilities assures them that they are making substantial contributions towards the company and as a result, fosters a sense of belonging to the organisation and encourages them to take pride in what they do. Employers stand to gain from this, as highly-motivated interns are likely to produce quality work.  

Full-time employees can also delegate tasks to the interns assigned to them. Doing so frees up time for them to focus on the bigger things. There are several tasks that executives and managers deal with on a frequent basis that interns are perfectly capable of accomplishing instead. For instance, an intern who is placed in a company’s events department could assist executives in liaising with event vendors, coordinating RSVPs, and taking care of other administrative matters. This would allow senior employees to focus on more crucial components of their jobs and provide them with an extra window of time during the workday to develop new ideas. Relying on interns allow full-time staff to maximise their resources and direct their time and energy towards higher-level tasks instead.

Opportunity to Retain Interns as Entry-level Hires

Interns are an investment, because they can potentially be retained for full-time positions.

Take Oprah Winfrey for example — the famous talk show host and television producer started out as an intern at WLAC-TV, an affiliate of American broadcast network CBS. Oprah, then a sophomore in college, did such an excellent job during her internship that WLAC-TV decided to hire her as a full-time employee. At just 19 years old, Oprah made history as the first female African-American co-anchor on the programme.

When an intern is offered a full-time contract, the need to train them for the new role will be mitigated. On the other hand, if the organisation were to hire someone who has never worked with the company before, executives and managers would have to invest resources into training the new entry-level hire. Retaining interns for entry-level positions is thus a wise business decision; the intern would have adapted to the company culture by then, and would be accustomed to the organisation’s practices and workflow process. The organisational socialisation process would have begun at the beginning of the internship; managers would not have to bother themselves with settling the intern into his/her new role. Requiring little guidance and supervision, he or she would be ready to jump right in which helps employers put precious resources to more efficient use.

Employers are able to allocate their time to higher priorities, such as focusing on the business objectives. The savings in resources extend beyond the savings of time — retaining interns for entry-level hires saves cost, too. The intern would have undergone training at a significantly lower cost since internship remuneration is often just a fraction of what full-time employees are paid. In comparison, a new hire would incur higher costs for the organisation since they would be drawing a full-time salary during the probationary period.

Generates A Steady Pipeline of Talent

Interns serve as word-of-mouth advertising tools. The best part? It’s free of charge. If the intern had a positive and fulfilling experience at your organisation, he or she would speak well of your brand when relating his/her experience to peers, friends, family and even faculty from their tertiary institutions. The benefits of this include the increase in brand visibility and awareness for your organisation. More importantly, this might lead to a potential pipeline of talent for your organisation. Before tertiary students begin their internship applications, they tend to consult their seniors to get advice and insights about the better companies to apply for. Having heard favourable things about your organisation, the fresh batch of interns are likely to adopt a positive attitude towards work, making them productive and proactive workers.  

In A Nutshell

With all that’s been said, do keep in mind that interns join companies to learn and grow — keep the menial tasks to a minimum, and focus instead on tasks that can value-add to their resumes. Remuneration should also be reasonable; while an intern certainly cannot draw the same salary as a full-time employee, they should be fairly compensated for their time and hard work, and be awarded at least a liveable wage. Having fair conditions and similar goals and expectations in place paves the way towards a positive working relationship!

Interns, when given the right opportunities and guidance, can go on to achieve great success later on in life. Some incredibly successful people started their careers as interns. Take the late Steve Jobs for example — the co-founder and former chief executive officer of Apple completed a summer internship at Hewlett Packard during his high school days. During the internship, Jobs met Steve Wozniak, who he later founded Apple with in 1976.

Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer Steven Spielberg started out as an intern at Universal Studios. Then 17 years old, the young Spielberg was an unpaid intern in the Editing department. He was later given the opportunity to direct a short film which caught the attention of Sidney Sheinberg, who offered him a seven-year directing contract. Spielberg began directing TV productions for Universal studios and was the youngest director to have worked with a major Hollywood studio. During the span of his film-making career, Spielberg bagged three Academy awards and two Oscars for films Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Jobs and Spielberg, both highly successful and immensely talented, discovered valuable career and networking opportunities through their internships. Spielberg contributed to Universal Studios through his directing abilities, and produced many noteworthy films that reaped substantial profits for the company. Spielberg’s career is a testimony of how an intern can eventually become a valuable asset to the company, when mentorship and opportunities are awarded appropriately.

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