Why You Need to Pay Your Interns

By Anika Pasilis

Anika Pasilis

Anika Pasilis

Marketing Intern

A 1947 Supreme Court case set the precedent for unpaid internships. While the number of paid internships are growing, roughly 60% of internships are still unpaid, according to Time. When COVID-19 runs its course, so should unpaid internships. Here’s why.

Unpaid internships are often not seen in the same light as paid internships. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, unpaid internships correlated to a longer job-search process for a full time position, contributing to why most look at unpaid internships as academic experience, rather than practice for a full time position. This is especially highlighted in the fact paid internships lead to full time offers about 72% of the time compared to only 44% of unpaid internships. This can lead some students to not take their internships as seriously, whereas a paid position will motivate them to be more efficient for your company.

That same study by NACE found that 70% of internship programs wanted to keep their interns in full time positions after the program had concluded. If you are looking to score the best interns possible as well as potentially convert your proven talent to full-time employees, paying your interns is the best way to achieve this goal and receive a return on your investment. 

Paying your interns also opens up a wider net of talent in a different way: through diversity. People from low income backgrounds typically cannot afford to work for free, so oftentimes, only those who come from prosperous backgrounds can afford to take these positions. By not paying your interns, you are limiting your talent pool. 

Unpaid internships also force many students to seek other employment while they are working at your company. In addition, they could be carrying full course loads and doing other extracurricular activities. This could lead to working around the clock, and not having the proper time or energy to devote to your projects. This is a reality that many entry level workers face, whether they are college students or changing career paths. Paying your interns means that they have the time and energy to put their best foot forward.

Paid internships are the first step towards a more productive, efficient workplace that generates more revenue for your organization. You will not only be able to hire from a broader and more varied talent pool but your interns will likely be more motivated and focused.

COVID-19 has burned the paths of many interns who were looking forward to opportunities this summer and beyond. Affording them the same protections as your other employees ensures that they are aware of what a work week looks like and help them contribute to the team. Symba does not work with companies with unpaid internship programs simply because we believe in the future of an ethical workforce. 

We advocate for and understands the importance of making the workforce more diverse and believe the best way to do this is to make every internship paid, so that students from all walks of life have access to the opportunities that will help them succeed and find full-time jobs upon graduation. 

By Anika Pasilis

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