Internship programs are good for both employers and interns when those programs are run with clear expectations and a structure that benefits both sides. Internship programs need to be designed in such a way that employers receive qualified interns. Simultaneously, programs should feed interns by honing their skills development, networking abilities and industry experience.
Putting Employers and Interns in Alignment
Fortunately, interns and employers seem to be on the same page since over two-thirds of students are bringing at least one internship into the post-graduation job search; and over half of employers are really scrutinizing potential employee past internship experience when making hiring decisions.
However, some internships don’t always go as planned (or at all!) and often times, it is a result of an employer or student perpetuating an all too common myth about interns and internships.
Myth #1: Internships Mean Fetching Coffee
This one’s a huge myth for a few reasons. First off, internships are an opportunity to bring classroom knowledge to fruition by refining student skills in the professional world. Internships are designed to facilitate a learning experience and bring out the best in students under supervision from an intern manager or personal mentor. If internships were just fetching coffee and photocopying then there wouldn’t be much need for a supervisor, right?
Another reality that demonstrates that internships are far from an endless merry-go-round of errands is the fact that over half of paid internships lead to full-time job offers, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. To some extent employers feel like they’re vetting the next generation of professionals who will one day assume their place. Therefore, they take orientation, supervision, mentoring and training very seriously.
If you think that interns are hired to be your personal assistants, think again!
Myth #2: Unpaid Internships are Worthless
Maybe you don’t have any funds to take on an intern so you think offering a program is pointless. But you should know students regularly take unpaid internships – either because that internship is the one that’s tailor-made for their skills and experiences or it’s one that will get them necessary course credit to complete their major.
Furthermore, students can absolutely display an unpaid internship right alongside coursework, volunteer experience and paid internships on their resume or CV. Potential employers love to see evidence of ambition and experience. Student’s know that – and not all of them require financial earnings – so don’t let your bank account determine your willingness to take on an intern.
Myth #3: Summer Internships and Jobs are the Same
While summer jobs might offer students a way to supplement their incomes and defer some of their tuition and other college costs, summer internships offer a whole raft of opportunities ripe for the taking.
Summer internships fit snugly between students’ spring and fall sessions and allow them to build up their resumes, network and attend industry events (symposia, etc.), and receive the kind of supervision that ultimately works to improve their industry-related skills and future employability. Internships can also help that student earn course credit to graduate on time. Debating whether to call your opportunity a job or an internship? Ask yourself if there is a learning component. If the answer is yes, you may just have yourself an internship.