What Are the Benefits of Interns and Why Do Companies Hire Them?

What is an intern?

An intern is a developing professional who works at a company for a short time to gain entry-level experience and knowledge about a particular career field. Interns are most often college students, though other adults can also be interns, especially if they are changing careers or earning higher education degrees. As an intern, you learn about the day-to-day functions of a company, department or position to learn about a career path with less commitment.

Interns can earn college credit for an internship placement or often get paid for their work. Being an intern is a valuable way to gain real-world experience outside of the classroom and have material to add to your resume. You can explore interests to help guide your personal career goals and learn about the expectations of employment in your chosen field to know if it is right for you.

What does a typical internship offer?

An internship can be part- or full-time and offer hands-on experience in your chosen field. Some internships have light administrative responsibilities, though it typically is less than half of your duties. Internships often have qualifications and preferences, much like job applications. For example, an internship may be open to those pursuing a certain degree or those who hold a minimum grade average.

Most standard internship placements offer:

  • Intentional learning objective goals

  • Guided supervision by a professional with related work experience in the field

  • Continuous observation, evaluation and feedback for growth

  • Personal development, hard and soft skill development and academic advancement

  • A balance of learning goals and a company’s organizational needs

A formal internship program is structured and supervised, often with orientation and training to ensure interns do well and gain skills. Good internship programs become competitive, offering companies strong candidates to choose from, which can strengthen the program and lead to future hiring opportunities from the internship team.

Companies can add to their internship program through:

  • High school students

  • Undergraduate students

  • Graduate students

  • International students

  • Career changing professionals

Why do companies hire interns?

Companies of all sizes and industries hire interns to gain valuable support for the business and its existing employees. Internships allow companies to invest in their own future success and perhaps discover new talent and future leaders. Interns can take on lower-level tasks, freeing up time for colleagues to handle other work, though more internships now offer responsibilities that go beyond administrative duties.

Employers can benefit from hiring interns or creating a broader internship program. Here are five great benefits to gain from interns:

A larger workforce

Interns are valuable support and help to current employees, even if tasks given to them have modest levels of responsibility. By taking on tasks as an intern, other colleagues can pursue creative or more advanced projects. As an intern, you can expect tasks that help you learn a new skill or more about the industry and work with fellow employees on specific projects, research or campaigns. Most internships have supervision to provide you with feedback on your work.

Mentorship opportunities

Internship programs give current employees an opportunity to mentor future leaders in the field, and it can promote a healthy work culture and build company morale. Helping teach and develop individuals new to the career can motivate employees and reinvigorate their passion or work ethic and increase effective leadership within the team.

A new perspective

Interns offer a fresh look at a company’s day-to-day business and procedures and can share ideas on strategy, plans, policies and more. As an intern, you can be part of brainstorming sessions and meetings or give input and suggestions to company or internship leaders. You can help organizations apply the latest strategies and techniques in your chosen career field through your education and knowledge. With the growing presence and use of social media, for example, interns can apply their technology skills to bring creative opportunities and ideas for social media marketing or engagement.

Positive publicity

Communities and industries often commend those who provide internships to the next generation of business people. Companies that offer internships can establish or grow their connections with universities and colleges, increasing their visibility on campuses and ability to recruit other students. Internships can also promote community involvement and presence through teaching the prospective workforce and having an impact.

An employee candidate pool

Companies can select and develop future talent through internships and increase their staff retention rates, since many interns secure job offers after their internship ends. As a former intern, you assimilate into the new role faster than an external hire might. Employers can hold various social activities and professional development seminars to learn more about each intern and how they may be a good permanent addition to the team.

Why become an intern?

There are several reasons to become an intern. You gain fundamental business knowledge and experience, no matter the field or industry you internship for, and an internship often is the starting point for a successful career by stimulating your interests with real-world experience. Whether you are a college student or looking to enter a new career field, internships are a great option to gain the invaluable benefits associated with them.

A meaningful internship program with purpose will provide:

  • Experience: Internships provide industry relevance and real-world experience outside of the classroom to put on a professional resume. It eases the transition from college to the professional world and allows you to work with smart and motivated people.

  • Exploration: You gain exposure to your field of interest and various organizations to explore career possibilities and places you want to work. You can confirm career goals and choices or discover new ones you weren’t aware of through an internship or even explore a new city or area.

  • Skill development: Through the assignment of tasks and mentoring of the internship program, you can advance your skill set, develop new ones and test what you have already learned. The skills you gain through an internship can help you in the rest of your school studies or in future jobs.

  • Networking: You can create a professional network with an internship through colleagues in the office or clients and vendors you work with. These connections can be helpful when searching for a job or the contacts you make can lead directly to an offer.

  • Income: Most formal internships are paid programs, offering you compensation for your time and a way to support yourself. Pay varies by location, industry and company size, though interns in the technical field often earn more than those in nontechnical fields. Unpaid internships have specific criteria set by the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • A salary increase: Listing strong internship experience on your resume can help command a competitive salary in your job search. Many employers consider internships as entry-level experience, which can influence your strength as a job candidate or during salary negotiations.

What are types of internships?

Internships vary depending on the program, company, location or level of education. Here are some internship examples:

  • Summer internship: This is one of the most common internships and you can intern full time between semesters, even holding a different internship each summer throughout college. Summer internships vary in length, though are usually two or three months.

  • Semester internship: With a semester internship, you typically intern part time while attending classes for pay or school credit.

  • Externship: An externship is often a shortened internship that last for just a few weeks, also known as job shadowing.

  • Co-operative learning: Co-op programs vary from internships because of the time associated with them. Most co-ops last a year or more and students attend a mix of class and work. For example, a college may offer a five-year degree program with one year being a co-op placement to gain experience.

  • One-year internship: With certain one-year internships, you work the first half unpaid to let an employer explore your potential. If you are successful, you typically earn pay the second half of the year.

  • College internship: College internships are through the university or campus, offering temporary jobs within the school and most often to science, health, technology or research students pursuing higher education degrees.

  • Virtual internship: Virtual internships are remote and you can do them from home or at school. They offer flexibility and opportunity to work for companies or organizations from further away.

  • Service learning: Service learning often requires a combination of learning, interning and doing community service.

By Indeed Editorial Team
Indeed Editorial Team