Disclaimer: Bryq does not offer legal advice, nor is this blog post a legal document. We strongly encourage you to seek legal counsel from a law professional to learn more about hiring for internship positions, and what you might need to do within your own organization.
Autumn is here. The weather is getting cooler, our lattes are getting warmer, and university students are back on campus after one of the craziest school years on record. Many students will soon graduate from college and begin their job search for their first post-graduate position. But before they score that job, many students will probably need to get work experience through internships.
Hiring interns is completely different from hiring full-time employees. While full-time job hopefuls often have experience and sharpened skill sets, interns usually don’t have any. You are hiring based on potential and a gut-feeling. Additionally, the matter of paid versus unpaid internships is the topic everybody is talking about. In this blog, we discuss ethical internship practices, paid versus unpaid internships, and ways to help make the hiring process easier when seeking out interns.
Benefits of Taking On Interns
Internships aren’t just beneficial to employees. There are a handful of benefits that employers get when they take on interns. Most interns are young college students looking to get their first taste of professional work experience. This means that they are highly motivated, and also have access to the latest, most up-to-date educational resources. With this knowledge comes fresh ideas and new perspectives your company will benefit from. Keep in mind that many of these interns belong to “Generation Z”. These individuals were born into an age of social media and iPads. Nobody knows social media better than these potential interns – use this to your benefit! Ask for their expertise and their creative input when forming your social media plan.
Interns are eager to learn, enthusiastic, and are ready to prove themselves. Other benefits include reduced costs in staffing, an increase in productivity, and brand equity. However, the aspects of internships you benefit from may depend on whether or not you pay your interns.
Unpaid Internships (And the Legalities Behind Them)
The greatest benefit to unpaid internships for employers is that you don’t need to pay your interns. Sometimes offering a salary to your interns just isn’t possible when looking at your budget. If your company cannot afford to incur training costs and a salary to interns, offering an unpaid internship might be the way to go. There are also interns who are happy to take on an unpaid internship if it means getting course credit instead. Of course, this practice has come under fire recently from both interns and certain members of government. Protests have taken place around the world to promote better working rights for interns, and governments are keeping a closer eye on internships to ensure that they aren’t exploitative. Nevertheless, unpaid internships do remain legal in places around the world – but only if they meet certain conditions.
The legality of unpaid internships varies by location. For example, unpaid internships are legal in the United States so long as they follow a specific set of guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor. Alternatively in the United Kingdom, unpaid internships are not legal practice. If a U.K. intern is classified as a worker, they must be paid at least the national minimum wage for their time. However, there are certain conditions that can be met that may justify not paying an intern, such as receiving academic credit or simply shadowing an existing employee without actually working for a company.
Of course, unpaid internships still happen when they shouldn’t, and there are employers that continue to take advantage of interns wanting to get their foot in the door. A number of lawsuits have been filed due to accusations of unfair employment practices, and many interns have won their cases. Before deciding to hire an unpaid intern, we strongly suggest looking into federal labor laws or seeking legal counsel.
While unpaid internships may save you money, that won’t always be the case. It’s important to take training costs into account. Interns usually won’t have prior experience, so you’ll need to invest money into someone to train them properly. Interns are at your workplace to learn and grow. They deserve to be trained properly. It’s also worth noting that the money you pay interns might pay off tenfold in the long run. By offering paid internship positions, you are attracting top talent to your company. Potential interns are more likely to apply for and accept a paid internship position than they are an unpaid one. By offering a monetary incentive, you are widening your talent pool.
Additionally, offering an hourly wage isn’t just about the money. It’s also symbolic. By offering a salary, you are letting potential interns know that their hard work at your company will be valued and appreciated. Employees who feel valued by their employers will work harder to do a good job. Paid interns can also take some pressure off of your full-time employees by taking on some of their work, while unpaid interns might not legally be allowed to. Productivity is a huge benefit to employers when offering paid internships. You also benefit from brand equity by offering an internship experience that doesn’t seem exploitative and is enjoyable for interns. Many of the world’s top businesses have begun offering paid internships to eager talent, with some companies paying interns as much as $8,000 a month.
Be Good to Your Interns
Whether you opt to pay your interns or offer them an unpaid position, good employer practices should always be followed. Internships are an opportunity for unpolished talent to shine and glisten. Interns should receive guidance, proper training, and plenty of patience. They should also be given real work experience and plenty of opportunities to learn while they are with your company. Showcase their work when possible, encourage them to become involved in your company’s culture, and give them networking opportunities.
If you can’t offer them paid internships, try your best to give them the office perks they deserve. These may include free lunch, free access to parking, or even transportation passes to get to and from their internships. Remember that these interns are often taking full-time classes at their learning institutions on top of partaking in their internship. You should keep expectations realistic about how much they can have on their plate without feeling overwhelmed or overworked. Of course, never exploit your interns – especially if they’re not being paid. Exploitation will catch up to even the biggest companies, possibly ruining your brand equity. If you treat interns with respect and are ethical and honest throughout the internship, they aren’t going to forget it. You may even consider employing them full-time afterwards.
How to Hire the Right Intern
While companies do benefit from hiring interns, interns are the ones who should benefit the most in these working relationships. Their internship shouldn’t just give them job experience to put on their resume. It should also provide them with an experience that is positive and insightful. Provide them with guidance, proper training, and as much support as you can. If you hire the right intern, they may impress you enough to offer them a job! But how do you find the right intern?
Interns typically have little to no work experience, which makes our talent intelligence software perfect for finding interns who might be top-level performers. Bryq doesn’t take past job experience into account when analyzing candidates. The only factors that we look at are personality traits and cognitive abilities. These two factors are scientifically proven to indicate future job performance when combined together. Through our Bryq Indicators, we can assess things like communication, emotional intelligence, and even learning agility. Bryq is backed by science and I-O psychology, providing you with an analytical way of making the right hires. Bryq is able to identify things like motivation and enthusiasm based on a candidate’s personality traits – perfect for hiring great interns who are ready to start their careers.
Ready to onboard some fresh, awesome talent with Bryq’s help? Contact our Customer Success Team to book a demo! They’ll answer all of your questions. If you want to jump right in, you can also sign up for a free 7-day trial to make sure that Bryq is right for your hiring needs. Happy hiring!