5 Elements of Win-Win Internships

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There is no doubt about it: internships have the potential to benefit both a company and a young professional.

Have you considered how your company can utilize interns? 

Many organizations, including Google, Intel, Amazon and Bloomberg have innovative internship programs that have been incredibly successful. A study administered to 300+ human resource professionals found that 47% of employers have a structured internship program. According Dan Black, Ernst & Young’s Director of Campus Recruiting, “ The market for the best and brightest students is the most competitive I’ve ever seen”. Developing internship opportunities that attract the cream of the crop can give your company a competitive advantage.



Interns can be beneficial to your organization in many ways. Here are just a few examples of what young professionals bring to the table:


  • Fresh Perspectives
  • Energy
  • Knowledge of Current Trends/Technology
  • Ideas to Improve Processes


Assigning interns with relevant work will bring a creative perspective to projects and processes throughout your business. This low-cost/low risk strategy to complete projects can have positive long term impacts on our organizations.


Many companies find entry-level employees through internship programs. A study administered by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 35.3% of employer’s full-time, entry-level college hires came from their internship programs. Internships are a trial period to determine how much potential a young professional has in your field.


To attract outstanding interns, you need to develop a program that is beneficial to them as well. The following 5 elements that will make your company’s internship experience stand out.


5 Elements of Win-Win Internships


  1. Compensation

In 2014, over 1 million unpaid internship where offered in United State. Unpaid interns may seem like a tempting option, but studies have proven that paid interns produce better outcomes. Take a look at these statistics from NACE that demonstrate positive outcomes from paying interns:


  • Paid internship listings receive 3x the amount of applications than unpaid internship listings
  • 1% of paid interns receive jobs offers while 37% of unpaid interns receive job offers


Lawsuits recently have popped up against some companies with unpaid internships. Organizations including Hootsuite, Conde Nast, and NBC Universal have been under fire for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. Play it safe, make the investment, and pay your interns!


  1. Potential for Future Employment


Young professionals want to land internships that have the potential to turn into full-time employment. A study performed by the global research firm, Universum displayed that 51% of undergraduate students found the opportunity to have full-time employment important when choosing an internship.


Determine which areas of your business are looking to hirer entry-level employees, and create internships in those departments.


  1. Real Work Experience


Students participate in internships is to learn. They want meaningful work and they want to see how their work impacts the organization. Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universium says, “Students want internships that allow them to grow, stretch and contribute. They want to be in a learning environment.” I think you will be pleasantly surprised and extremely impressed with what interns produce when you give them relevant projects.


  1. Networking Opportunities


For many young professionals, internships are their first exposure to the professional world. You can make your internship program stand out by providing your interns with networking opportunities. Networking can be as casual as inviting your interns to lunch, or as formal as hosting weekly networking events. Either way, networking is an essential aspect of a competitive internship.


  1. Fun Perks


Finally, little perks such as free lunches, access to a gym, or involvement in office competitions will help your company attract the best interns on the market. You can get creative in this area! Think about your company’s corporate culture, and find ways to capitalize on it.


As summer approaches, and college students finish final exams, I hope this gets you thinking on how you can create internships that will develop young professionals and benefit your business. How has your company used interns in the past? Has it been successful? Share your thoughts below.

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