It's internship season! This is the time of year when college students traditionally seek internship opportunities to gain meaningful work experience, supplement their academic coursework and, in some cases, even earn some extra cash during their summer break from school.
Internships are vital to preparing our future workforce and integral to retaining educated young people in the Columbus Region—after all, it is through real work experience with local companies that students better understand the employment opportunities available to them right here in our community. In addition, employers increasingly expect their entry talent to have previous experience—which students gain through internships.
Supply vs. Demand | Benefit vs. Cost
The demand among students for internships, however, far outpaces the supply offered by employers. Many more students seek internships but are disappointed in the lack of offerings and opportunities. Businesses may be discouraged from offering internships because of the perceived hassle surrounding the process, from conceiving of an internship position to identifying qualified internship candidates to implementing and supervising the intern. The problem is compounded by stories in the national news suggesting that offering internships to college students puts employers at risk.
In reality, internships are well worth the small amount of effort that goes into putting together a high-quality opportunity, and ColumbusInternships.com makes it easier than ever to find interns.
Tips and Best Practices - Paid & Unpaid Internships
The Columbus Chamber offers these tips and reminders to ensure everyone has accurate information about paid and unpaid internships:
- It is a best practice to pay wages to an intern.
- Small businesses and non-profit organizations are held to a different standard than large, for-profit corporations. An individual can volunteer for a non-profit, like the YMCA; one cannot volunteer for a Fortune 500 company.
- Employers (regardless of tax status) should ensure that interns work with their college or university to obtain college credit if the internship is unpaid.
- Interns must be compensated for the work they do. Compensation does not necessarily mean wages. Most often, students earn college credit in place of earning a wage. There are other creative things that employers can offer, like paid attendance to events and conferences offered by the business. Also, grants, such as Ohio's Third Frontier Internship Program, may be available to businesses who qualify. I can help employers think through options and navigate funding sources.
Note that the intern portrayed in the article was not enrolled in college and, therefore, could not earn college credit to compensate her for the time she spent essentially volunteering for a large, for-profit corporation.
Other Helpful Tips
- Post internship position descriptions and source candidates at ColumbusInternships.com and OhioMeansJobs (narrowing search criteria to “interns”). I can help you navigate specific career centers and college campuses.
- The Columbus Chamber offers a series of brief, informational videos housed at www.ColumbusInternships.com regarding best practices on how to provide high quality internships so that both the employer and the intern get value from the experience.
- Finally, employers should seek legal advice from someone who specializes in employment law for specific questions.
As always, I am available to consult with employers on how to implement “high quality” experiences. Contact me at email@example.com.
With more than 140,000 students attending colleges and universities in the Columbus Region, there's an eager and skilled workforce just waiting for you. The Columbus Chamber and ColumbusInternships.com are here to help you get started.