Regular readers will know that we are big advocates of companies recruiting youngsters with a good attitude, the right cultural fit, and bags of potential.
Often such strong candidates can be found in high schools, colleges and universities: there’s nothing new about businesses hiring graduates but it is worthwhile to look at intern programs for those presently studying for degrees and even high-school students.
Internships can act like apprenticeships do for trade and vocational jobs and, in Australia, they can be paid or unpaid; you may hear them referred to as “work experience” or “industry experience”.
Here are three good reasons to consider them:
1. Internships Can Work in Any Size Organisation
Many large companies have used internships to great effect.
The Australian arm of Bechtel has successfully hired graduate interns in engineering, construction, human resources, finance, supply chain management and IT in Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle.
Google in the US provides opportunites for graduates too:
“Google offers summer internships to Master’s, MBA, J.D., and Ph.D. students, as well as full-time roles that are posted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Whether you have a background in technology or are looking to make a career switch, Google has a career path for you!”
However undergraduates can also apply for Google internships in product management and technical areas:
“Get to know who we are – from the inside out. From our history and culture, to the people behind our products, get the inside scoop on all things Googley.”
That’s great if you’re feeling “googley” but is perhaps a little self-aggrandising. An internship should be mutually beneficial:
IBM Australia provides more of a balanced outlook:
“We work with the most forward thinking clients, organisations and governments. So if you’re an ambitious undergraduate this is your chance to join a world leader.
At IBM you’ll gain knowledge and experience like nowhere else. We employ talented people in almost every area, in just about every country, so no matter where your talents and aspirations lie, it’s not hard to find like-minded people who share your interests”
Smaller Australian companies also are successfully running internship programs, including Sydney-based marketing company Lead Creation:
“We are currently seeking bright university students to contribute innovative ideas and collaborate on our client projects.”
2. What’s the Risk?
The great beauty of internships from both sides is that they are low risk. Either party can walk away at the end of the agreed period with no harm done – just a few important lessons learnt.
The ideal scenario is when you have several entry-level positions available, are able to find a good pool of interns for these positions and the students you hire become full-time employees who stay with you for life!
Of course, some internships are for a limited period only and that suits both parties; but otherwise it can be a “testing of the water” for the student and the employer. If the employee finds out that he or she’s working for a dead end company that’s going through the floor, then it’s easy to be cut free; if the employer finds out that their intern would rather be playing World of Warcraft all day, then they are not landed with a dud for long.
Ideally, of course, both sides do their homework first and they find good matches. The employer finds a switched on, tech-savvy, motivated new recruit with a great work ethic who brings a new energy to the team; and the student gets valuable experience of the working culture, joins a company that they can identify with and which shares their values, which recognises and rewards their efforts, and provides future opportunities if it all works out.
3. Motivation and Energy is Infectious
Students who perform well at high school, college or university are often energetic and highly motivated; especially with it being the first job for many of them, their eagerness to do well is nearly always a breath of fresh air, and it rubs off on other team members.
Suddenly with new perspectives, new ideas and the desire to learn and grow from the new recruits, existing employees may see their role in a new light. They may gladly become mentors for the new colleagues and thrive on the opportunity to lead. With this positive change in dynamics in the workplace, great things can happen, and an all-round better work environment can result.
Internships may involve a change of mindset and culture if they are to be implemented successfully. They shouldn’t be considered a cheap opportunity: consider what positions are available or can be created, the “fit” required with culture and values, and then think about why a student would want to come and work for you in the first place. It’s competitive out there and the best students have options.
An intern program needs planning beforehand – but the time spent upfront may improve retention and shorten the amount of time you spend looking for new employees in the future.