For many young people seeking to transition from school to the corporate world, an internship is a default prepping ground. The practice of taking on internships during school breaks is no longer optional for many students since jobs often expect a certain level of experience and on-the-ground knowledge from applicants. Firms also take on interns to spot talent, sample fresh ideas, increase productivity and endear their brand to a target demography vicariously through internship opportunity announcements. Sometimes, competitive brands consider paying interns as a way of attracting top graduates.
Internships generally look transactional on the surface; students getting practical lessons without paying fees and companies getting labour in exchange for imparting knowledge. Throw in the high demand for internship opportunities from fresh graduates and the limited number of companies willing to offer the ‘’opportunity’’, and there is a surplus. So, why should companies pay interns when they are spoilt for choice?
A good name matters
This age of social media and by extension social accountability presents tricky times for many brands. Every form of goodwill can have a significant effect on brand performance, just as much as a negative comment or tweet or social post. Even though it is not legally binding to pay interns, there are many ways paying interns pays the employer back. Beginning with the “PAID INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY” ad that goes out on all media, a brand sets itself apart from the widespread notion that most companies are exploitative and predatory. For this good name, a company has to pay interns minimum wage, which is around 250 cedis a month. These young people will use their social media to give updates about their work (as all millennials do) and the brand that supposedly cares about their demography. Depending on the brand’s target market, this could be a good thing.
Happy intern, happy life
The power of motivation cannot be emphasized enough, especially in the case of a company that is taking on interns to sample new ideas and garner significant contributions to productivity. You gain their loyalty and commitment and extra effort that is reflective of their gratitude. Making your interns happy means that they will be likely to return to their position during the next holidays, by which time they have enough knowledge to do more complex tasks and provide more valuable service to the company. This might be the making of your next hire, which will save you the stress of training someone new while they are on a full salary for a month or two or even spending time and money on the recruitment and headhunting process.
If you can’t pay them, reward them
For many organizations, the point of hiring interns annually is to acquire cheap labor while doing some social good. Many interns are reduced to buying lunch for regular staff, running photocopies, and essentially idling around in the office or on social media, which would explain why organizations are reluctant to pay them in any form. Even though may Ghanaian organizations do not fully harness the resources that interns bring on board and will be strongly opposed to the notion of parting with money, it is possible to build a cost-saving business model that thrives on the contribution of interns enough to reward them. For instance, a marketing company that makes use of interns to find leads and close business, frees more qualified personnel to do the complex, income generating work. Interns could also be assigned to do product research, provide assistance to senior staff etc. Knowing that these responsibilities actually contribute to the smooth running of the organization means that the company will be willing to reward interns with sales commissions, sitting allowances, transport allowances, products, free lunch etc, while also rewarding them with valuable skills and connections for the future.
If you want to catch ants, spill sugar
One way of gathering a diverse pool of applicants is to offer to pay an allowance. The promise of reward no matter how small is enough to widen the applicant base which will most likely present a pool of talent for an organization to pick from. Many organizations complain about lazy interns or others that are downright clueless. However, once a while, an organization chances on that diamond in the rough that they are willing to hire immediately after graduation. If such a valuable individual is ambitious enough, there is a high chance he/she is looking for a paid internship position. Any organization that is serious about gaining top talents and recruiting fresh minds that they can mould, should consider paying interns.