What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear someone say, “I am an intern?”
Do visions of coffee runs, dry cleaning pick-up or overall grunt work run through your mind? Its’ true interns are often characterized as a type of “free labor” left to deal with the mundane tasks of the day. However, the reality is an internship is much more than that. Its’ an opportunity to pull in diverse talent to fill a void in your organization, with minimal long-term commitment.
An internship is an official program offered by an organization to potential employees. Interns work either part time or full time, depending on the need. They are paid or non-paid positions. They can be seasonal or year-round. Internships help develop experience in non-profits by allowing someone to learn the in and outs of the organization from more experienced professionals, all the while helping to carry out your mission.
Does your organization take advantage of an internship program? If not, what’s stopping you. There are a variety of roles interns can offer support with: grant writing, social media and digital marketing, clerical administration, community outreach and so much more. To start with identify your needs and create a plan that outlines expectations and responsibilities. Be sure to include your timeframe.
Don’t limit yourself. If you are struggling with identifying the benefits of establishing a program Internship.com offers these ten reasons to get started today.
1. Find future employees. An internship program is a year-round recruiting tool. Fall internships. Summer internships, semester internships, and quarterly internships, implementing an internship program means you have an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees.
2.. Test-drive the talent. Hiring someone as an intern is the most effective way to evaluate their potential as a full-time employee. When you "try out" candidates via a semester or summer internship, you make fewer mistakes when it comes to full-time staffing; you avoid the pitfall of training a new hire, only to find out they're not a fit for your organization…or that the entry-level employee doesn't like the field. Starting an internship program lets you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates.
3. Increase productivity. Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.
4. Increase employee-retention rate. The proof for the test-driving theory is in the positive employee-retention figures: According to NACE's 2009 Experiential Education Survey, almost 40% of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees they'd hired via their internship programs.
5. Enhance perspective. It's not just the extra sets of hands that make interns advantageous. Especially in an organization of only 12 or 15 employees, new people bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets.
6. Take advantage of low-cost labor. Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren't obligated to pay unemployment, or a severance package should you not hire them on full-time. Moreover, while their wage requirements are modest, they're among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.
7. Find free-of-charge. Internships.com allows you to post your employer profile completely free of charge. This means you get extensive exposure to the top colleges and candidates without putting a dent in your recruiting budget.
8. Give back to the community. As a small business, you likely rely on community support. Creating an internship program is an excellent way to give back. Hiring interns not only helps students in your community get started; it enhances the local workforce.
9. Support students. Internships provide students numerous perks: They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and assess their interest and abilities.
10. Benefit your small business. When looking for full-time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Many candidates feel they'll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations.
An excellent resource for internship protocols is the National Council of Nonprofits
Checklist for Success. This easy to follow guide will help you to manage program expectations, allowing you to make the most of your most valuable tool….the intern.
Providing internship opportunities… changes the whole equation.
Eduardo J. Padron
Interns: Employee or Volunteer. National Council of Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/interns-employee-or-volunteer.
10 Benefits of Starting on Intern Program. Internships.com. http://www.internships.com/employer/resources/setup/benefits
Michelle has been a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County for a year serving as a marketing volunteering.