A couple days ago, I came across a great article in Harvard Business Review by career coach Jodi Glickman. The article, titled Nobody Has Time for Interns, explained why hiring an intern can basically be a pretty big pain.
I’m not sure I agree with the headline, but I do agree with Glickman’s assessment that most interns need to start viewing themselves as more than just free help.
Sure, it’s easier for exploitative employers to assign menial work for there interns, because by their very definition, menial tasks doesn’t require much explanation or training. The wrong in that is obvious. But it can be a lot tougher to plan for an internship that teaches students real-world tasks, developing a plan for your interns that starts with simple tasks and gradually build them up to accepting bigger responsibilities.
Most employers aren’t used to sorting their work duties by complexity or whether one project will prepare an inexperienced worker for another. Taking on an intern forces them to be managers and teachers at the same time. The extra help might be worth it for them, but in a good internship, it’s rarely a slam-dunk benefit to the company.
Not immediately, anyway.
Employers that think beyond today’s bottom line know that the real benefit of having interns is to scout future talent. Those, of course, are the type of employers you will want to intern for.
And that’s why the heart of Glickman’s article rings true, even if the title doesn’t: