Internships During College – A Must

Ask yourself, how much do you think it costs, in terms of time, resources and treasure for an organization to search, find, hire, train and bring into productivity, an entry-level employee before the organization is able to reap any return on its investment? In most cases, the cost and time commitment is substantial, reliance on an untested or new employee is risky at best and the potential for future performance is uncertain.

But what if an organization could mitigate these uncertainties, increase productivity with limited resources, work with a potential employee on a trial basis and deliver a “total win” opportunity to several parties, including an academic institution, a young professional and their own organization?

The writing is already on the wall. Organizations are asking employees to do more with less, improve productivity, take on more responsibility and above all else, do so profitably.

According to academic research and the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE), professional experience, in any form, is one of the key traits that an entry-level applicant can offer any organization and participating in an internship program is one of the best ways for an employer and a young professional to cooperatively augment this expertise.

Traditionally, internships have served as a bridge between classroom learning and professional experience for highly motivated young people, providing hands-on experiential learning and career preparation. The benefits to individuals who pursue internships are well documented, including: higher entry-level salaries, stronger professional skills and higher levels of job satisfaction than non-interns.

In most cases, professional organizations themselves also stand to gain from participating or partnering with an academic institution’s internship program because interns can take on projects that are often neglected by employees or shuffled around from person to person, thus fulfilling a real need within an organization. Interns also bring with them an unmatched level of enthusiasm, comfort and evolving familiarity with new technology applications.

Additionally, research indicates that by partnering with an internship program, professional organizations will find they can significantly reduce their cost-per-hire basis as well as increase their pool of highly qualified candidates by recruiting current interns to be considered for employment opportunities.

Furthermore, it can also be inferred that hiring a current intern into an entry-level position will save an organization substantial initial investment costs because that individual is already familiar with the organization, internal structure, products, the specific industry and ongoing projects, whereas a new hire will require extensive ramp-up time prior to productivity and a return on an organization’s investment.

For professional organizations which have entry-level employment needs which require specific training or skills, internship programs fulfill long-term strategic needs for developing and maintaining a recognizable brand and presence on a university’s campus when candidate numbers are low or economic times are hardest and competition for the best students with such skills among companies is fierce.

The bottom line for organizations experiencing tough economic times and who need to maintain a pool of talented young professionals from which to draw, is to partner with a university supervised internship program that maintains a demonstrated track record of providing high-quality, top-tier talent to the local community.

We certainly look forward to your application for the SOJC’s premiere internship program soon!

Originally published in The Portland Business Journal, March 2010

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