The Economist recently published an article early September on “The Internship”. It paints a picture of a growing contingent of (often) unpaid and unregulated temporary workers. The Big 4 audit companies (Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG and PWC) employ over 30.000 interns combined this year! The internship, having been around for quite some time, seems to be growing in popularity across the globe. It has become a critical hiring pipeline for many companies. Interns for example often are the population from which to recruit trainees. Companies therefore should start to professionalize the way they recruit interns, taking the process as serious as they do in other recruitment areas.
Recruitment is not only about the first impression of the candidate but also about the first impression of the employer. There should be a good selection process before and during the internship. For students and graduates, internships are a way to create a meaningful resume and relevant job experience even before their first job. They will also use the internship to evaluate what kind of company they want to work for. In many countries internships have been part of the higher education curriculum. While being a student in The Netherlands some years back, I had multiple internships and they were part of my education, professionally supported by the college I attended. They helped provide a balance between knowledge gathering and practical knowledge application. I remember being envied by my fellow students for my internship in Vienna where I got full pay rather then the regular Dutch minimal cost allowance. In many markets it is common to do an unpaid internship only after you graduate.
In any case, I think internships can provide you with a talent pipeline, provided that you take the intern as serious as they value the internship themselves. My internships helped me get a clearer picture of my talents and the type of company I wanted to work for (as well as the type of company I did not want to work for). Our company has always had interns, which we try and give a real-life working experience just as any normal employee. And we have hired some of our best talent out of our intern population. That is why we apply the same high hiring standards to our interns as we would with other staff; we always start with a video interview!