When to Consider Offering a Paid Internship

As the school year comes to an end this month, thousands of students are seeking summer internships to gain experience in their chosen field of study.  Hiring interns in northeast Georgia can be a huge benefit to your organization: they are full of fresh ideas, increase workplace productivity, are a great option for helping overloaded employees, and often turn into ideal full-time hires after they graduate.

While unpaid internships have become increasingly common over the years, here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to shell out a salary.

The Law.
Due to recent arguments on both sides of the issue of unpaid interns, many lawsuits have been filed in regard to the Federal Labor Standards Act, which dictates if an intern needs to be compensated. The FSLA has six criteria that determine whether an intern falls into the category of a trainee or an employee. If a person is considered an employee, they must be paid at least minimum wage (even when offering college credit). Basically what it boils down to is that if an intern is generating revenue, they must be paid.

Paid Interns Have More Time To Commit.
Forgetting the legal issue, there are other benefits to paying your interns.  Interns that are unpaid must often take on a second job in order to survive financially. Therefore their time and effort is split between multiple jobs, and the paid job tends to take precedence over the unpaid job.  By paying your interns you’ll also be able to hire interns with greater flexibility and won’t be limited to students that can only work a few hours here and there between their part-time jobs.  They’ll have more time to work for you, which was the point of hiring them in the first place.

Paid interns are focused solely on your company, are excited to come to work everyday, and are generally happier than unpaid interns. Happy interns contribute to the team and have a stronger work ethic.  They’ll become brand ambassadors for your company.

Paid Internships Attract Top Talent.
Offering paid internships allows you to compete for talent with larger organizations, especially if you’re in a location where talent is scarce.  Many students will choose a paid internship at a lesser-known company over an unpaid internship at a well-known organization.  Studies show that firms with paid intern listings get 2.5 times as many applicants as firms with unpaid positions.  Paid interns also have a higher percentage of accepting a full-time offer after graduation.

Since paid interns are happier they also spread the word about your company to their friends, which may also be your potential hires.  This saves you recruitment and headhunting costs in the long run.

Is the Internship Mutually Beneficial?
If you decide not to pay your interns, and it’s easy to see why many employers prefer not to—you’re able to save cash, free up resources, and can hire a greater number of interns—It’s important to remember that in exchange for working for free, these interns desire to learn.  Therefore, you will need to give thought to the skills and experience you’ll need to provide in order to make the internship mutually beneficial to both parties.  If you only use unpaid interns for coffee runs and answering phones, you won’t be teaching them anything necessary about your industry.  You want to make sure at the end of the internship they’re more desirable to both you and other employers. 

If you won’t be giving interns a paycheck, you need to clearly communicate how the interns will benefit from the relationship.  It’s your job as an employer to then make sure that the things that are promised happen.  Your interns should leave the internship proud of their accomplishments and ready to enter the paid workforce.

Who is BOS Staffing?
For more than 35 years we have helped clients throughout Northeast Georgia and nationwide complete work cost-effectively, hire smarter, and manage their workforces more efficiently. If you are looking for a better way to work – and want hands-on service from experienced recruiters, contact our team of experts today.

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