What can an intern do?

Internship Illustration Interns can do anything from get coffee to marketing tasks, bookkeeping, answer your phone, filing, or you can even have them run errands.  Ultimately any project they have the skills for, entry-level or routine tasks that are easy to train. Unless very well documented, I find super technical tasks (unless they’re going to school for it) are difficult to delegate to interns.  If the task isn’t well documented you can spend the whole summer training the interns to take on the responsibilities and then they leave when school starts – which isn’t the best investment of your time.   I find the best activities for short term interns are specific projects or routine structured activities. At MayeCreate those activities may include: simple site updates, business card and letterhead design, blogging, social media posting, photo editing or illustrations.

Benefits for students

Real world experience

You can’t teach real world experience in a classroom, it’s immeasurable for students.  Sharon explained,  “even though our degree program offers students excellent opportunities for hands-on experience, nothing we can do exactly replicates the environment of a real workplace.”

Dan agreed, “students learn professional soft-skills that are so necessary when they leave college.  Interacting with supervisors and colleagues, self-monitoring, rapidly re-prioritizing tasks, and handling yourself in meetings are examples of skills needed in today’s workforce and not learned in the classroom.”

Maturity

“I am always amazed at the growth I see in students in maturity and confidence when they come back from a summer internship. Professional internships can truly be life-changing for the students,” explained Sharon.

Location

You may be able to hire an intern with work experience because he or she won’t have to move or quit a part time job to intern at your company.   A downtown location can also be very convenient for students, they can stop by in between classes and put in their hours.

Improved employment opportunities upon graduation

Job skills gained in an internship could be a key factor as employers make hiring decisions. “Getting that initial experience in your field, even if it’s unpaid, can mean an easier time finding employment after graduation.  This is critical in all fields, but especially so in competitive areas and often is the only way to break into certain industries,” commented Dan. 

Test the waters before diving in

Students have the opportunity to experience different types of work in varying company and city sizes. It’s hard to know until you give it a try.  Dan asserted through internships, “students can gain practical knowledge about what happens day-to-day in the industry.  Sometimes that can be a realization that the field may not be right for them, though often it helps them solidify their career choice.”

College credit for hands on experience

Many degree programs encourage or require internships for graduation.


Benefits for employers

Short term help

Tackle seasonal projects with temporary student help.

A new perspective

Interns can give you a fresh set of eyes and perspective to look at things a little differently.

Cost effective

Student help can be super inexpensive.   I choose to pay my interns because I want them to be more invested and feel if you pay people they tend to be more committed.  It’s not uncommon for interns to work for free.   “Recent federal laws have made it difficult for businesses to not pay their interns, but many organizations still do it.  However, by paying the interns – even at minimum wage, you greatly increase the likelihood of attracting possible candidates.  Paid interns also tend to be more committed to the internship,” confirmed Dan.

Although student help isn’t often paid at a full rate you do have to invest your time and energy managing and training your interns. Make sure to factor the cost of your time into the equation to ensure your intern is truly cost effective over a part-time employee who is likely to work for you longer than an intern.

Tech Savvy

Young adults in college were raised with technology in classrooms. They can be super tech savvy, they can help you digitize your marketing list, start a blogging campaign or get a handle on your social media without much training.

A hand up – not a hand out

I consider internships a type of public service.  You are grooming the next set of workers to enter the job pool.  Even if you hire an intern and later have to fire him because he couldn’t  show up for work on time, you teach a valuable life lesson that would not have been learned any other way.  Dan agreed, “internships can help students understand their aspired field and learn from a mentor.   They can also be places for students to observe and find professional mentors to help ready them for their next steps.”

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