South-Western - Management  
Interns on the Payroll
Topic Training and Development, HR Planning & Recruitment
Key Words Internships
News Story

Interns can have many benefits to the companies that bring them on board. They can take on projects that have been put on a back burner due to time constraints, energize the business with their enthusiasm, bring the perspective of their generation to the workplace, and can even supply expertise in the latest technologies. Also, a formal internship gives employers the opportunity to observe the intern in an actual work setting and evaluate their potential as a full-time hire. Pricewater House Coopers (PwC) has a formal internship program which their HR department believes is key to developing a quality workforce. Most interns are found through cultivated relationships with college campuses or through employee referrals or word of mouth.

For an intern program to be successful, the intern's goals should be aligned with the company's objectives or with the goals of a particular department. Internships work best when interns are given real projects to work on. Orientation, training, and performance requirements should also be set up as integral parts of the program. Pricewaterhouse Coopers has developed an "internship toolkit" for recruiters and mentors, which contains advice on mentoring, best practices, and guidelines for determining which interns are qualified for full-time employment. As a result of this careful process, about 85 percent of the members of each graduating class at PwC receive offers, and 90 percent of those who get offers accept them.

The bottom line is that with some planning, internships can benefit both the college students who get them, and the companies who take the time to mentor and train them. The college students gain valuable, real-world work experience on projects that they can list as accomplishments, and the companies gain energy, access to the latest technologies, insight into the mind of a young generation, and possibly loyal employees who can start their full-time careers already acclimated to the corporate world.



What is an internship? How does it differ from a cooperative training program?


List at least three benefits to companies of developing formal internship programs.


List three elements of an internship program that HR should put in place in order to help guarantee the program's success.

Source "Interns on the Payroll," HR Magazine, December, 2004, pp. 89-92.
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