Why it’s a good idea to pay your interns

Interns bring so many good things to your organization, top among them a fresh perspective, increased productivity, and a vigor to learn and grow. Providing internships increases your visibility on campuses, sends the message to your community that you are invested in tomorrow’s workforce, and helps you create a pipeline of talented individuals to potentially hire as full time employees.

If you are thinking about taking on an intern or re-vamping your internship program, you have probably started asking yourself if you should pay your intern, and if so, how much.

There are a lot of great reasons to pay your interns:

  1. Rhode Island offers matching funds to employers who take on interns. These funds can help you cover the expenses of hosting an intern. Learn more and apply here.
  2. While learning is certainly motivating, so is pay! A paid intern may be more likely to work hard, stay late, and put in extra effort because pay makes them feel more valued. Plus, if they are happy, they are more likely to spread the good word about your organization to their peers which can be a very powerful recruiting tool.
  3. You can avoid potential legal issues by paying your interns. In order to host an intern without pay, you must meet certain requirements. While most unpaid interns are simply happy to get the experience, there have been some cases where legal issues have arisen due to the assignments (and lack of education) interns were given.

Convinced you should pay your interns? Well, how much? We recently took a look at the postings on bridge.jobs across many industries. Here is what we found for the average hourly wages. You can use this as a guide to determine how much to pay your interns but know that the decision is largely up to you and how much you can afford to pay your interns.

Job Category Average Rate
Accounting/Finance $11.74
Admin/Office $11.34
Agriculture $8.50
Architecture $13.00
Arts/Design/Fashion $9.56
Chemistry $11.00
Communications/Media $10.21
Computer Science/IT $13.14
Customer Service $11.12
Education $12.95
Engineering $13.16
Environment $10.25
General Help $10.88
Health/Medical $28.33
Hospitality/Food $9.47
Management $10.07
Marketing/P.R. $11.34
Non-profit $10.20
Other $11.84
Political Science $7.75
Retail/Sales $9.00
Social Work $10.50
Sports/Recreation $7.98
Overall Average $11.56

If you decide you really can’t pay your interns with wages, there are other benefits you can provide.

  • Academic credit. You will need to work with the college to develop a learning path that you, the student and the college can agree on, but academic credit is a great way of “paying” your interns.
  • A great learning experience. Some students would happily work for a great organization without pay as long as it gave them the necessary skills and experience to start their careers. Just make sure to sit down with the student and develop a list of learning goals, assign the intern a mentor, and avoid the urge to just give them a bunch of busy work. If they are working for free, they need to get the education to make it feel worth it.

No matter if you choose to pay or not pay your interns, it is ultimately up to you and your business. Just remember in either case, the purpose of an internship is to learn and gain experience so that should be your top priority when developing your internship program.

Are you ready to host an intern at your business?  Visit www.bridge.jobs to find local interns in Rhode Island.  Learn more about coordinating an internship program with the Guide to Structuring a Successful Internship Program.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by bridge.jobs. Bookmark the permalink.

About bridge.jobs

Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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