When I graduated from college back in the early years of the 21st century, internships were not a “must-have” for most employers. College graduates wanted to get in to a job and start making money, and employers wanted qualified employees walking in their doors. So what does that mean for the less experienced college graduates who are anxious to get started in their chosen career path but also need to pay their growing pile of bills (including that ominous student loan debt growing interest with each passing moment)?

There are definitely some scary pieces to the puzzle as Lihuan Wang learned when she brought a sexual harassment suit against Phoenix Satellite Television company, which was ultimately dismissed because Wang could not legally bring a claim under the NYC Human Rights Law as she was not an “actual employee. Clearly, the regulations need to be tightened up in order to protect interns as equally as employees, and there’s an argument to be made for internships being paid versus unpaid. Remember that pile of bills I mentioned earlier? Unpaid internships are not appealing to candidates because they need to start making money. But there is a case to be made for entry-level internships which can be a combination of a learning experience and an entry-level pay grade. Here are the benefits to internships, to encourage you tograb that talent early on before they wander into your competitor’s recruitment pipeline.

  1. Great talent is so hard to find –reach out to those college grads before they hit the market and instill into them, all the things that you love about your most successful employees. Grab them early!

  2. By the same token, training brand new employees who haven’t yet experienced other ways of doing things allows you to train them YOUR way. This is something that becomes more and more difficult the further individuals get in their career because most of us think that our way of doing things is best (or is that just a millennial thing?)…so why not teach them that your way is best, out of the gate?

  3. Company loyalty is not a thing of the past, if you do it right! Company loyalty is earned nowadays, not guaranteed. Employers cannot expect an employee to be loyal to the organization if they don’t show the employee respect or loyalty in return. Establishing a working relationship complete with mutual respect early on is the key to ultimate success.

  4. Interns are hungry for knowledge, for experience, for acknowledgement, the list goes on! Think of an intern as a toddler figuring out this new world, learning new tools and ways to navigate, adopting the terminology and ideology of their culture. Their hunger for knowledge is something that drives interns to bring innovation and creativity and energy to your company culture. That alone is a worth the small price you’ll pay for a great intern fresh off the college campus of your choice.

  5. As discussed in this article: https://peoplescapehr.com/mentorship-future-work/, mentorships allow for a collaborative learning environment in which both parties learn and grow. The more seasoned team member can learn from the intern, just as much as the intern can learn from your experienced employees. Allowing internships in your organization brings more possibility for a mutually beneficial mentorship to be built as the existing employees find satisfaction in working alongside a newer employee and teaching them the ropes.

  6. Of course, this topic can’t be discussed without mentioning the financial benefits. Employers can benefit from internships in that college graduates looking to learn and grow from the internship will likely take less pay than a candidate with decades of experience in the field.

So, let’s look at the facts. What is stopping you from bringing internships into the picture at your company? The positives most likely outweigh your lingering concerns. Sure, the intern could up and move once their time is served at your organization. But that is also true of any new hire. The intern could bring new ideas to the table that stir up some resentment (or jealousy maybe?) with your current employees. So what? A little controversy is good for the competitive edge that most companies these days require in order to be lucrative and stay relevant. Take a leap and shake things up this year by introducing a college senior internship option for that growing department that can’t seem to keep up with the tasks and demands of your customers. Or offer tuition reimbursement in lieu of an unpaid internship. The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are sure to outweigh the obstacles.

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