Think that only students benefit from internships? Think again

    Think that only students benefit from internships? Think again

    Many students try to get an internship during at least one of the summer vacation periods during college. Students clearly benefit a lot from internships. For example: they can:


    • Get valuable work experience that that they would not get in college;
    • Understand what working in a company is like;
    • Learn what kind of a job they would like to do after graduation;
    • Learn what skills are needed in industry jobs;
    • Make connections in industry; and
    • Increase their chances of getting a suitable job after graduation.

    Importantly, internship is a means for students to figure out whether they want to pursue a particular career. A survey of sociological students found that nearly all students became more certain about what kind of career they wanted to pursue after doing an internship; in no case did students feel less certain about their career after an internship (Neapolitan, 1992, Teaching Sociology).


    Internships also improve students’ skills. A study comparing students before and after an internship found that students’ presentation and writing skills; problem solving, decision making, and creative thinking skills; leadership, teamwork, and relationship building skills; and job interviewing and job networking skills (Moghaddam, 2009, California Journal of Operations Management).


    Finally, it is not the case that the students who get the highest marks or grades in college are the best performers in an internship. Working at a company requires many different skills than those required to write college exams and papers. In fact, research has found that there was consistently no relationship between students’ marks / grades in college and their internship performance (Korman & Stubblefield, 1971, Journal of Medical Education).


    But do you think that only students, not companies, benefit from internships? Did you perhaps consider paying a company to take you as an intern? Many students are so focused on the benefits that they would receive from internships that they forget that companies have internship positions because they are also beneficial to the company.


    Here are some of the ways in which companies benefit from internships:

    • Get highly motivated and productive short-term employees;
    • Relieve some of the tasks of over-burdened full-time employees;
    • Get the same work done at a much lower cost;
    • Get a source of future full-time employees who have already been tested; and
    • Create reputation among colleges.

    A longitudinal research study using 122 pairs of intern-supervisor dyads in the US found that 60% of the interns became full-time employees at the company that they interned at after completing their education (Zhao & Liden, 2011, Journal of Applied Psychology). Thus, internships are a great way for companies to identify and recruit future full-time employees.


    In sum, internships are a win-win for both students and companies.


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