Why You Should Hire Interns (And Let Them Do More Than Make Coffee)

Millennials have been successfully entering the global workforce over the last decade—according to stats from LinkedIn, they’ll make up 50% of workers by 2020 (Global Recruiting Trends 2018). Generation Z-ers are also well on their way—in another 10 years, they’ll be in place alongside your Millennial workers!

Times change. But this new generation of workers is different—technologically savvy, creative, and tuned into the world as never before. It’s a new type of talent, so your business could benefit from a head start in understanding how they’ll work for you. An internship programme could be for you.

Is it worthwhile?

Before you launch into hiring interns, there’s a basic question you should answer: Will your intern do beneficial work, or will they end up bored out of their mind with rote activities?

Think of internships at a newspaper or law firm, much sought after by students, but often too hectic and understaffed to make it worthwhile for anyone.

Consider whether you have the resources to manage a young upstart. You may not be a suitable business if you’re too busy to provide genuine work.

Paid or unpaid?

Importantly, make sure you know the law. There’s negative press surrounding unpaid internships as there’s a fine line between “unethical exploitation” and “essential work experience”—HR experts like Croner have analysed this in detail.

Some businesses view internships as free labour. In reality, if you don’t manage interns properly, there can be legal consequences. The IPPR last year ran a post calling for this to be banned: “Research finds numbers of internships has doubled since 2010 while the number of graduates in high skilled jobs fall into long-term decline.” This was, for clarity, in the UK.

As such, run your HR department through your plans (or turn to an employment law service for advice) to make sure your internship programme goes ahead without any hiccups.

Ultimately, if you pay your intern it’s a positive brand enhancement for your business that sends out strong signals to your future workforce.

The benefits

If you decide to go ahead, remember the upfront benefits of interns—cost-effective, highly enthusiastic, talented, and energetic.

They’re looking to gain experience, make a positive impression, gain new skills, and potentially even land a full-time role with you. This will be at the back of their mind.

Interns are relaxed and knowledgeable with technology—whether it’s social media, a CMS like WordPress, or setting up a live stream on YouTube or Twitch, the chances are they’ll know how to do it.

They also provide a unique, outside perspective. Have you been working on a project that needs a lively and unconventional contribution? Interns are fantastic at thinking outside of the box—youthful enthusiasm ensures this!

Simply getting them to look over your website, and social media accounts, to make suggestions could provide your brand with an unprecedented boost from a switched on generation. They know what modern sites should look like, what they should be saying, and how to add some spark to your brand.

For your business, it’s the chance to see a new generation in the workplace, how they function, and to take their tech-savvy lead.

Future staff

Internships offer a superb way to bring new staff into your workplace. You can train them up from entry level, shape them around your business culture, guide them where necessary, and reap the rewards by taking them on fulltime.

This isn’t a mandatory part of your programme, as you may want assistance over the course of a project, or through a busy period. But it’s worth considering bigger options.


Internships offer an exceptional level of ROI, so long as you can manage the situation properly. They’re inexpensive, but still provide you with a lively and fresh perspective.

Handle your programme as you would other roles. Hold interviews, choose the best candidates, and from there you can add a slice of youthful enthusiasm to your office.

Generation Z is on the way and it’s your chance to utilise its talents to take your business into an exciting new era of productivity. Just so long as you make sure they do more than make the coffee.

Download our eBook on Learning and Development Trends and find out how technology enables continuous learning in organizations.

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Author bio

Alistair Brown is the chief technical officer at BrightHR in Manchester city centre, England. He’s responsible for overseeing many forward-thinking projects, such as the bespoke app B!ip, which are helping to shake up offices across the world with progressive procedures.