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Ask Fred & Morgan: What’s an Intern Worth?
Ask Fred & Morgan: What’s an Intern Worth?

Meet Fred and Morgan, Pivot’s newest interns. Fred, our designer, just graduated from Anderson University, and Morgan, our project coordinator, is a student at Butler. They bring the Pivot family to a total of ten people, and we like them a lot.

Fred and Morgan are internship experts. In fact, they’ve held three internships—each—in the last two years. So this week, we asked them if there’s anything we employers could do better when it comes to the care and keeping of our interns. Turns out, there is.

First, why internships are worth it

Morgan McFarland: The biggest upside of internships is the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in class to a real-world situation. I’ve also learned what I like to do and what I don’t like to do, and I have a better idea of what I’d like to see in my future career.
Fred Leary: Internships have allowed me to get my feet wet in a few different places while gaining valuable experience. Meeting new people and staying connected with them even after an internship ends is also important, because you never know where that connection may lead.

On the problem of not being paid

FL: Not being paid is one of the biggest problems interns have. Although interns are not doing the work of a “normal” employee, they’re still doing work that is benefiting the company in some way—or at least I hope so. It comes down to a respect thing. Companies with unpaid interns send the message that their interns’ work isn’t “worth” anything.
MM: The main downside I’ve experienced as an intern is not being paid (until Pivot). I’d like to think that more businesses would see value in their interns and would offer them compensation that reflects their work. If an intern is contributing, that contribution should be recognized in some way.

Why interns are actually a great investment

MM: Compensation for interns can range from a paid salary to free lunches or free parking. Some kind of compensation—even just perks!—will benefit not only interns but the company’s bottom line as well. When companies treat interns as investments instead of as disposable labor, they build loyalty and productivity in their workforce, and they attract a more diverse and qualified pool of internship applicants.

FL: To some degree, every intern’s goal is for his or her internship to evolve into a full-time position within that company, but many companies exploit this hopefulness. Instead of instituting a revolving door of interns, companies should assess their future job openings and take advantage of this opportunity to train a college student or new grad into exactly the right person they’d like to hire.

How to create a meaningful internship

MM: After my first internship, I realized how important it was for interns at any company to have someone in place who can teach us in our best interests and not just use us. Pairing interns with a mentor, even if it’s a new hire, lets interns see how other new grads have made the transition from college to the workplace, and that’s helpful.

FL: If there’s a job opening within your company, why not outline those qualifications to your interns—and then see if you can help them fill any gaps in their resumes? As interns, we know the job needs to be earned—that’s what we’re here to do.

Questions for our internship experts? Ask Fred and Morgan on Twitter