The Basics

Advantages of the "8 Hour Internship"

As discussed in Part I of “Working with Busy School-Year Interns,” the virtual internship is one program that helps employers take advantage of intern talent while classes are in session.

However, it’s not your only option.

Introducing the 8-Hour Internship

An innovative trend in internships, the 8-hour internship refers to a format where interns work only eight hours a week—either on or offsite.

This novel new approach is built on the principle that students can still get valuable work experience—and employers, useful support—by committing a minimal number of hours weekly. In fact, in terms of the 8-hour internship, the streamlined time commitment is not seen as an obstacle to overcome, but rather as an intrinsic advantage.

Employers: 5 Advantages of the 8-Hour Internship

Like virtual internships, hiring interns within this 8-hour architecture boasts a number of benefits, both intern and employer based. For instance, student advantages include an ability to try on various vocations before committing and a solution to the school-versus-work time struggle.

Meanwhile, employer benefits are based on helping businesses profit from student workers during the active academic calendar and on enabling small businesses to build an internship steadily and sequentially:

1. Higher-energy interns. Students who are not overwhelmed with a full load of classes and a fulltime job are simply going to be more productive.

As an employer, utilizing an alert, inspired intern for a few hours a week may likely net the same output as trying to wring energy and accomplishment out of an exhausted, four- or five-day-a-week worker.

2. Larger applicant pool. As with virtual internships, offering an 8-hour opportunity opens up your pool of potential interns by accommodating students who have to work a second job.

It’s also an option for interns who may not live nearby; because even if your program is onsite, making a long commute once or twice a week is much more doable than driving a long distance daily. Additionally, since a student is working only approximately eight hours a week, they can come in during off-hours to avoid traditional commuter traffic.

3. Test drive for fulltime interns. As we’ve discussed, one of the major internship advantages is the ability to “test drive” future employees; as such, internship programs give companies a pipeline of prescreened, trained, and proven fulltime staff members.

But selecting the right intern is important in and of itself… especially for fulltime, paid positions. Therefore, if the internship is a selection tool for finding permanent employees, the 8-hour internship might be seen as a vehicle for finding fulltime interns.

For example, you might hire an intern in an 8-hour-a-week capacity. If the intern is a fit, you could then offer an increased number of hours—possibly with additional pay and augmented responsibility (or with pay, period, if the previous position was unpaid).

This reduces your risk of spending an entire summer or semester with a fulltime intern who isn’t the asset you had imagined.

4. Resource reduction. First there’s the obvious: It’s less expensive to pay an intern for eight hours a week than for 40. Therefore, if you’re a small business just starting an internship program, the 8-hour option is a perfect way to get your feet wet and assess your workload.

In terms of space and equipment, an 8-hour internship means you need not allocate a workspace and computer for fulltime use. 8-hour interns can easily timeshare cubicles and computers on alternating days with other interns or part-time workers.

This strategy allows you to grow your business slowly, steadily, and most importantly, safely: You’ll expand your office space only when you truly have the manpower to necessitate a move.

5. Proof for new programs. If getting financial approval to hire interns is an issue, the 8-hour internship is particularly advantageous.

Implementing this type of internship requires very minimal resources. This lets you start up in stages, proving program ROI incrementally to gain greater buy-in (and, consequently, a bigger budget).

Employer takeaway: Like the virtual internship, the 8-hour internship is one of today’s most buzzed-about intern hiring trends. Requiring only eight hours a week, onsite or remotely, students are able to gain valuable experience—as well as insight into their own proficiencies and preferences—while satisfying school-year requirements. For employers, utilizing student talent during the busy school year and implementing an internship program without risking major resources contribute to the program’s growing popularity.