Many educational programs are instituting mandatory participation in internships for completion of the education process. There are also an increasing number of graduates who volunteer to perform an internship with various companies. Internships have very clear benefits for students and graduates alike. This program allows them to enter and experience the work environment, to gain experience in their field, and an opportunity to apply their knowledge. However the push toward this trend may be caused by the lack of confidence from businesses as to whether new graduates are ready for the workforce. In fact. An article written by Forbes’ John Hyde and Amy Bravo vocalizes the lack of perceived preparedness of recent graduates by employers.
Employers feel that education does not hold enough value to training necessary understanding and soft skills. Based on a 2015 Survey by Association of American Colleges and Universities, only one third of employers believe that graduates are properly prepared for the workforce. The Forbes’ article argues that schools should change their programs to include more activities that simulate the job environment to better prepare students. However even for most entry level positions there is a level of experience expected that educational institutions simply cannot replicate.
My opinion is that the Post-secondary institutions’ focus should be on education and it is the employer’s responsibility to provide experience. Now it is very clear that most employers feel uncomfortable providing permanent and central positions to unformed talent. So.. Enter the Internship program. This provides the opportunity for employers to train graduates so they can become talent.
There are more benefits to hiring an intern than simply preparing future talent of course. Forbes online via YEC Women, outlines some of these benefits in “5 Reasons You Should Hire an Intern — and 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t.” I am not going to reiterate all of them but I would like to comment on two;
- The trial period could lead to something more. Usually when you hire new talent you still need to train them on your system and policies etc, and there is a meaningful learning curve in regard to the organizational environment. If the intern proves to be successful, then you have a candidate who is fully trained and prepared for the position and the extra benefit is that you didn’t have to pay them during that training period.
- Your company gains brand advocates. I will forever have loyalty to the company who gave me an opportunity to gain experience in my field and took a chance on an unformed graduate. However this loyalty and advocacy doesn’t just happen with the hiring of the intern. Providing a new graduate with genuine experience that will benefit them on their career path builds that relationship to create a brand advocate.
Finally I will say please do not hire an intern to get your coffee. Please do not hire an intern with the expectation of filling a vacant position with free labour. Please do not hire an intern if you don’t have time to train and provided assistance in the learning process. There’s so much more that an intern can do. Take a small leap of faith and Help us help you.
Jenelle Allison holds a BA in Labour studies/Labour relations from McMaster University. From there she decided to enhance her business perspective and began a Post Graduate program at Humber College for Human Resource Management. This program is where her interest in recruitment and HR development was sparked. Because of this she has thoroughly educated herself on recruitment, selection, training and development.