The Beauty of Internships

18 July 17

Hello HR Strategy Group Blog Readers!

Welcome to our Blog!  This is Jaime Marie here, soon-to-be freshman business major at Grove City College, avid doodler, and lover of all things fashion.

This summer I have the awesome privilege to intern for HR Strategy Group and I am having a BLAST! I was approached by the owner of the company who offered me this incredible opportunity in early May and I just couldn’t turn it down. In the past two months, my knowledge of the HR world has expanded further than my knowledge of which blazers are best for an evening meet and greet.

Some companies battle back and forth over whether they want to take on the responsibility of hiring a nonprofessional to work in their office, while some students find the idea of spending their summer working at a job that may not pay or requires more experience than they have to be not so perfect, or even somewhat intimidating. The range of experience needed to be an intern varies in the work world. In some environments, you perform minor tasks, such as fetching coffee or paper shredding, whereas in others you have much more responsibility. What’s the point, anyway? Why an internship?

I’ve created this blog for 2 readers:  the Interns and the Employers.  Check out my perspectives and let me know what you think!

Dear Potential Interns,

There are approximately 1.5 million internships in the US each year; nearly half of these positions are unpaid. Internships are temporary job positions, and act as an exchange of services from students with the opportunity for the experience of being in a working organization. Interns may be college students, high school students, or post- graduate adults. What are the benefits of taking an internship rather than the ol’ run- of- the- mill job at your neighborhood restaurant?

I read an article posted on entitled, “What is An Internship?” which talked about the following pros:

  • Internships act as an excellent way to “try out” a certain career. If you’re considering law school, interning at a law firm beforehand will give you a test run of the environment and allow you to get a feel for the idea before diving into things.
  • In some schools, internships count toward course credit!
  • Having several internships under your belt throughout your college career can be very impressive to employers after graduation.
  • You gain extremely beneficial on the job experience.
  • An internship broadens your portfolio
  • You establish a networking system that will be helpful for future job hunting

The article then went on to mention that 81% of those with internships are now employed, 33% of which are still working with their internship organization. An article written by WunderLand Group mentioned a few cons for accepting an internship:

  • Possibility of working in an unpaid position
  • Menial work, unrelated to your field

It’s obvious that the pros outweigh the cons. Internships are great for students to gain experience in their developmental stages of moving toward the work world. It gives you a clear look at what it’s really like “out there”.

A Note for Future Interns…

What are the Do’s and Don’ts? What are a few small keys that can help make this internship go as smoothly as possible?

Greet everyone you see- no matter their level of importance Be too anxious so that you run out the door at the end of the day- stick around a little while
Ask questions! You’re there to learn! Dress down on Friday’s if your boss doesn’t- you’re a team
Introduce yourself to everyone- be friendly! Gossip- don’t be the young drama in the office
Keep busy- take the initiative to find tasks to complete! Avoid hard tasks- show them you can do it

Now, here are some perspectives to employers who may be hesitant to bring on an intern!

Dear Employers,

“You get what you pay for” is most likely a phrase running on repeat through your head as you think about taking on an unpaid intern at your office. Sure, that can very well be the case- you could end up with a summer intern who’s sort of a dud – someone who minimally invests himself and is a pain to train because of how inexperienced he or she is. The Weklar Business Institute and keep this phrase in mind, yet also share many pros to hiring interns.

  • There is a good chance you will discover a future employee
  • You can Test- drive the talent
  • It may increase productivity
  • It may increase employee- retention rate
  • It may Enhance perspective
  • There is the advantage of low- cost labor
  • You have an opportunity to support students in their education

Based not only on my personal opinion but the opinions of articles and blogs I’ve read, hiring interns for your company will infuse your workplace with fresh new perspectives.

What are the goals?

Grinnell College put together a jam-packed student handbook on their internship program, and they put a lot of emphasis on how important it is for the intern to set goals.  Some goals are simple, such as demonstrating the skills you mastered in school, while others are more complex, such as identifying and articulating professional and personal values. WunderLand said it beautifully when they stated, “If you’re still in school, the focus should be on LEARNING, not getting a job or a paycheck”.  Internships are all about experience! Their absolute purpose is for the intern to get familiar with all the craziness that a work place has to offer.

Take time (daily or weekly) to ask your intern, “What did you learn today/this week?”  Engage in a dialogue and find out what your intern is learning!  My boss asks me this and it really helps me review what I am learning!  I am learning everything from using MS Word and MS Excel better to learning about employment law (see below, for case-in-point!).

Let’s Get Legal!

Lawsuits by unpaid interns against organizations are rapidly increasing. Is a paid student intern an “employee” of the organization? Are they simply a volunteer? A trainee? According to an organization called InternBridge, the analysis of employee status varies depending upon the particular circumstances of each situation. The US Department of Labor has a six-part test that was developed to help determine whether an intern is actually an intern or if they have the rights to be labeled as an employee. Let’s take a look:

  1. The internship, even though it includes operation of the facilities, is similar to that which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The interns do not displace regular employees, but work under the close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer that provides the training receives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship.
  6. The intern and employer both understand they aren’t receiving pay.

The US Department of Labor works on an all- or- nothing basis when it comes to these six rules. If all parts of this test are being followed, the student will be considered an intern. If any of these rules are not followed, they are considered an employee of the organization.

Since I began my work with HR Strategy Group, my idea of an internship has grown in admiration. I thought taking this position was signing myself up for a summer of spreadsheets and retyping documents (though that has been really helpful!), but here I am today working on the company blog, being invited to corporate dinners, and sitting in on meetings. My philosophy throughout this experience is simply “never say no”. The possibilities in a situation like this are endless, and the things I’m able to learn from them are incredibly valuable. Being an intern has so far been a positive experience, and I’ll be able to take this with me to college and beyond, feeling confident in knowing I can be an asset to any employer.

I hope you enjoyed the Blog!  Stay tuned for next week’s blog on the Company Picnic!

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