15 Benefits of Starting an Internship Program - Intern Program Tips

Updated: 12/4/2018

You've mulled it over with management. It's consistently on the agenda at meetings. And you know that small- and medium-sized companies are already reaping huge rewards. In fact, you've been contemplating creating an internship program for months—even years.

But you've yet to take the next step and start an internship program at your organization.

Hopefully, that's about to change. Consider these internship statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) 2017 Internship and Co-op Survey:

  • In 2017, the offer rate for interns was 67.1%.
  • 76.4% of these offers were accepted.
  • The conversion rate was 51.3%.
  • At the one-year mark, the retention rate for hires who had internships with the organization that hired them was 65.5%, and it was 52% for hires who had other internship experience. For hires with no internship experience, the retention rate was 46.2%.

As a small- to medium-sized business, your primary needs are twofold:

  1. Effectively manage your workflow to accomplish immediate objectives.
  2. Find new team members to help grow your business and accomplish your future (i.e. larger, more lucrative) objectives.

Setting up an internship program meets both needs simultaneously. Let's examine the specific benefits of an internship program in more detail.

15 Benefits of Starting an Internship Program

1. Find future employees. An internship program is a year-round recruiting tool. With fall internships, summer internships, semester internships, and quarterly internships, implementing an intern program means you have an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees.

For many, the process of recruiting and hiring is a drain on company resources. Appeal to tomorrow's staff members when they're looking for internships, and simply select your star intern(s) when it’s time to hire.

2. Increase visibility on college campuses. Additionally, if your organization impresses one class of interns, word will quickly spread. Enthusiasm about your field and your organization will increase. Soon you'll find that the most sought-after student talent is interested in working with you.

3. Test-drive the talent. It's a human resources reality: Sometimes a new employee makes a solid impression in the interview, but simply doesn't gel with your current team or the way your company operates.

Because of this, hiring someone as an intern is the most effective way to evaluate their potential as a full-time employee. When you "try out" candidates via a semester or summer internship, you make fewer mistakes when it comes to full-time staffing.

Avoid the pitfall of training a new hire, only to find out they're not a fit for your organization-- or that the entry-level employee doesn't like the field. Starting an internship program allows you to benefit from added manpower while more accurately assessing candidates.

4. Increase productivity. Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands increases employee productivity, prevents them from becoming overburdened by side projects, and frees them up to accomplish more creative tasks or tasks that require high-level expertise. 

5. Improve your employee-retention rate. The proof for the test-driving theory is in the positive employee-retention figures: According to the NACE survey data outlined above, the retention rate for former interns was 19.3% higher than the retention rate for hires with no internship experience at the one-year mark.

At the five-year mark, the retention rate for former interns was 16% higher than the retention rate for employees with no internship experience. Starting an internship program helps you both recruit and retain top talent long-term. 

6. Enhance perspective. Interns bring more to the table than just an extra set of hands. Especially in an organization of only 12 or 15 employees, new people bring novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets. Include interns in brainstorming sessions to maximize this benefit.

7. Take advantage of low-cost labor. Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren't obligated to pay unemployment or a severance package should you not hire them full-time. Moreover, while their wage requirements are modest, they're among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.

8. Find interns free-of-charge. Chegg Internships allows you to post your employer profile completely free of charge. By using the world’s largest internship marketplace, you’ll get extensive exposure to the top colleges and candidates, all without putting a dent in your recruiting budget. 

9. Give back to the community. As a small business, you likely rely on community support. Creating an internship program is an excellent way to give back. Hiring interns not only helps students in your community get started; it enhances the local workforce as a whole.

In return, the community will be motivated to support your organization. This makes internship programs an excellent, cost-effective public relations tool. 

10. Support students. Internships provide students numerous perks: They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and assess their interests and abilities.

Offering a paid internship is particularly beneficial because it enables economically disadvantaged youth to participate. Students who have to fund their own schooling will need a job regardless. Providing an internship allows that job to facilitate a positive future.

11. Apply the latest in techniques and technology. College students learn cutting-edge strategies, techniques, and technology in their field. Implementing an internship program gives you direct access to recent developments. As much as your interns will learn from you, you can also learn from them.

12. Enhance your social media outreach. Similarly, college students typically have social media savvy. They’re adept at using social media and are informed about current events, popular culture, and the best social media trends.

If social media is part of your business, interns can enhance your current strategy and build your following. And if you aren’t yet on social media, it’s certainly a good idea. Your interns can help you establish a social media presence and move your business forward.

13. Foster leadership skills in current employees. As current employees mentor and supervise interns, they’ll gain valuable leadership skills. This can be great training for an employee who will eventually occupy a management position. Supervising interns is often less stressful than supervising already established employees.

Mentoring and guiding others often motivates employees to hold themselves more accountable and become effective leaders. In this way, adding interns to your company can enhance and multiply leadership.

14. Improve the overall work environment. With interns on board, employees have a lighter workload, more time for creative or advanced projects, and the opportunity to build confidence and leadership by guiding others.

Additionally, interns often bring enthusiasm, motivation, and positive energy. This work ethic and positivity can easily rub off on others, improving the overall culture of your company.

15. Benefit your small business. When looking for full-time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw.

Many candidates feel they'll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations. If they enjoy the experience, they may stick around for the long haul.

Employer takeaway: In terms of both today's workload and tomorrow's workforce, starting an internship program is an excellent way to facilitate success at your small- or medium-sized business.

Take the first step toward reaping these rewards today by posting an internship on Chegg Internships. It’s quick, convenient, and free!