Attention: 4 Corner Resources is being used in a phishing scam. Read more about how to protect yourself.

13 Benefits of Using Internships as a Recruiting Tool

Four college students in an office communicating and talking notes

For students, internships are an invaluable opportunity to explore potential career paths and gain practical work experience, not to mention the possibility of getting hired into a full-time role upon completion. But, the benefits of internships extend beyond students. For employers, an intern recruitment program can offer a reliable channel for training skilled workers and sourcing future talent.

With more people in the job market, internships are even more valuable to both workers and employers in building talent relationships and identifying strong-fitting candidates.

If you’re thinking of launching your own intern recruitment program or want to leverage your existing one more effectively as a recruitment tool, here are thirteen benefits of doing so. 

The Benefits of Hiring Interns

Build a steady pipeline of young, qualified talent

We’re big advocates for the ‘pipeline’ approach to recruiting, where you work to develop a consistent flow of candidates regardless of the volume of open roles you have. This helps you nurture ongoing relationships and stay top-of-mind for candidates, making hiring easier at any time than if you only started looking when you had an open role. 

An intern recruitment program can strongly contribute to your talent pipeline, helping you reach young, ambitious candidates ready to put their skills to work. 

The great thing about internships is that even when they don’t result in an immediate hire, they yield positive, long-lasting relationships that can benefit you in the future. After spending a few years in the workforce honing their skills, for example, many professionals return to work for companies they interned with years prior. They often make stronger candidates because they already have an inside perspective of the company’s culture and values while also bringing additional skills they’ve gained working elsewhere. 

Need assistance hiring interns?

Our recruiters can help.

Train prospective candidates to your liking

We’ve talked in the past about hiring for potential rather than experience and why it can be a good strategy to ensure future job performance. Internships are one example of how to apply this practice. 

When you hire for potential, you can prioritize culture fit while training for specific technical skills, which ensures the job duties are performed to your standards. Additionally, you don’t have to counteract bad habits that candidates pick up in prior jobs. 

Training your interns in the skills they’ll need to work at your company is also an effective strategy for closing the skills gap, which is a big hiring challenge organizations in all industries are currently struggling with. Bridging the skill divide through training not only benefits interns in the immediate future but also contributes to a stronger workforce overall. 

Ability to try out different candidates before committing to hire

It’s not every day you get a chance to see a candidate in action on the job before deciding whether to hire them. Contract-to-hire arrangements are one way to accomplish this, but they’re not feasible for every role, nor do they lend themselves to trying out multiple candidates for one position. 

Internships give you the benefit of seeing a person—or multiple people—in the day-to-day setting of working for your company before you decide to bring them onboard. You can get a feel for how they make decisions, how productive they are, how they interact with other members of the team, and more. It’s a valuable piece of insight you’ll be hard-pressed to get in nearly any other hiring situation. 

And, if you do decide to hire one of your interns for a full-time role, you’ll already have a good idea that they’re a strong fit with your company culture. Because they’ve already spent time in your organization, they’ll have a head start getting up and running since they’re already familiar with some of your norms and processes. 

Increase productivity at a low cost 

Gone are the days of sending interns to fetch coffee or forcing them to alphabetize files. Instead, the modern internship sees students immersed in productive, critical-thinking-focused tasks. According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the majority of interns spend very little time on administrative and clerical tasks and the bulk of their time on duties requiring analytical and problem-solving skills. 

A talented intern can make a real difference on your team, helping tackle low-stakes tasks so more senior staffers can focus on projects that require their higher level of expertise. And they can do it at a low cost—the average hourly wage for college students is around $22.06 an hour, compared to the average $34.69 hourly wage for full-time employees. Plus, you don’t have to cover additional overhead costs like benefits that you’d have to cover for a full-timer. 

Cheap labor certainly shouldn’t be your main goal for implementing an internship program; in fact, a high-quality internship program takes a significant amount of time and resources to run. However, interns’ work is highly valuable, and when coached effectively, they can be an asset that increases productivity for your teams. 

Improved retention of new hires

Want to improve your new-hire retention rate? Hire interns. 

Candidates who have completed any internship program are more likely to stick around through their first year on the job than non-interns, and those whose internship resulted in a job offer are even more likely to stay with the company. The one-year retention rate for hires with internal internship experience is 71%, compared to 59% for candidates who interned anywhere and just 42% for those who did not complete an internship. 

The results carry on past the first year on the job, too; after five years, employees who were once interns have a 44% retention rate, compared to 27% for employees without previous internship experience.  

Foster relationships in the community

To cultivate applicants for your internship program, you’ll need to build a network of channels for intern recruitment. This includes developing relationships with high schools, universities, trade schools, workforce training programs, and other community organizations that will help spread the word. These are the same organizations and people who are good to know when you’re looking to recruit full-time talent, so building these relationships serves a dual purpose. 

Furthermore, having an internship program gets your name out there in the community and the industries you work in. This helps build brand recognition, an asset in your overall recruiting strategy. 

Develop leadership skills in existing employees

Students aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of internship programs. They’re also a great opportunity to help your existing employees hone their leadership and management skills. 

The most successful intern programs follow a structure, give participants meaningful projects to work on, and provide useful, regular coaching. Of course, this requires an active company team to oversee the program and deliver the coaching. 

Your more junior team members can be particularly good candidates for this task. Not only are they close in age to your interns, serving as an effective bridge between the student experience and the professional world, but their job duties might not typically offer many chances to lead. Giving them the reins to coach and guide interns helps them flex their leadership muscles, which is a good way to foster engagement.  

Gain a fresh perspective

A wide body of research has demonstrated that diverse teams are more innovative and profitable than homogenous ones. Interns can bring a fresh perspective to your work not only from an age standpoint but also from the experience and viewpoint of a different generation. 

Today’s interns are part of ‘Generation Z,’ the age group following millennials whose members were born after 1996. Members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation and are on track to be the most well-educated generation ever. 

How does this characterization compare to your existing staff makeup? Depending on your organization, chances are it’s at least somewhat different from how the majority of your teams look. Incorporating interns into focus groups and brainstorming sessions can yield surprising new insights that can be used to improve your services, strengthen your marketing strategy, and streamline your workflows. 

Free up time and energy of senior talent

We’ve already established that successful intern programs put participants to work on meaningful tasks–activities that build skills and provide industry exposure. Many of those activities are the same ones that senior team members complete every day but could easily offload to someone more junior. 

By assigning interns to important but time-consuming tasks like conducting research and drafting communications, you can free up more of your top performers’ time for business-driving tasks like presenting to sales prospects or doing deep dives into performance data. 

Invest in your industry

If you’re like most organizations, your goal is to establish a lasting position in your field. One of the best ways to do that is to invest in the next generation of talent. 

No matter what the industry, fresh young thinkers will be required to ensure sustainability and lasting success, not just for your own company but for the entire market. The energy field is a perfect example. It’s likely going to look completely different in 20 years than it does today. The people who will be leading the transformation are the same people who are interns in programs at companies like General Electric and Tesla right now. 

Investing in a high-quality internship program is an act of good faith in the future, both for your brand and your field.

Access tech-forward skills

College labs and lecture halls are the proving grounds for some of the most cutting-edge technology available. When you hire interns, you’ll bring on team members who have gotten their hands on tech that some of your full-time employees haven’t even used. 

What’s more, young people inherently possess a set of skills that might not come as naturally to more seasoned members of the workforce. Social media, video editing, and graphic design, for example, are great internship tasks because they’re done with tools that most people in Gen Z have been using their whole lives. 

Offer mentorship opportunities

Various studies have shown that mentorship is as rewarding for mentors as it is for mentees. An intern program offers more opportunities for members of your workforce to take on a mentorship role, either via a formal matching program or through informal interactions like job shadowing. Even just getting face time with young, enthusiastic intern recruits can provide engagement and breathe fresh air for longtime staffers. 

Generate positive PR

A well-established intern program is good for your organization’s public perception. It shows your commitment to giving back, developing skilled workers, and investing in the youth of your community.  

The activities of your interns also make for ideal PR material. A group of young faces donning construction hats on a job site or pitching a creative idea to the company president would look great on your social media channels or in the local paper’s Business section. 

Recruit Interns for Future Growth with 4 Corner Resources

Looking for new places to source qualified talent? Need to hire for niche skills or leadership roles? The team of staffing experts at 4 Corner Resources can help. With over 15 years in business, we’ve helped organizations of all sizes overcome their staffing challenges and build teams that withstand market changes and ensure future growth. 

We take hiring tasks like attracting, screening, and interviewing candidates off your plate so you can focus on coaching your staff and running your business. Our convenient onboarding and payroll services make getting new hires up and running a breeze. Schedule your free consultation with our team today to discuss your unique staffing needs.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn