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Internships are a common win-win. Firstly, they are beneficial for young workers seeking experience. But they are also great for employers looking for fresh, talented staff to inject new energy into their business. However, internships should not be treated as one-way obligations. If your business is looking to offer internships, ensure you have genuine work and opportunities available for interns. Indeed, they should not just give them menial tasks like printing or making coffees. Interns can offer huge benefits to a business. However, your business should provide adequate training. This article sets out the role and work factors for interns, the benefits they can provide for businesses, and what your business should provide to interns in turn. 

The Role and Work for an Intern

When considering whether your business should offer internships, determine if there is work for an intern to undertake. Some businesses make the mistake of offering internships before working out what an intern would do. This can result in dissatisfied interns who have no real work to undertake. This can also be frustrating for other employees who may need to create work to give to the intern.

Ideally, your business would make a plan for any internship you are planning on offering. This would mean that an intern’s role is clearly detailed. Indeed, possible tasks or work they would offer should be clearly defined and set out in advance. Furthermore, key individuals in your business who will be responsible for taking care of the employee should be aware of their role.

The Benefits an Intern Can Provide

Interns can be a terrific asset for your business in the time they have with you. They are relatively cost-effective compared to other employees but can offer a new set of skills. Interns can also offer an injection of energy into your office and workplace. Many businesses in New Zealand, including most of New Zealand’s large businesses, offer internships for a good reason. Some of the other key benefits cited for employing interns include:

  • establishing a pipeline of talent and new employees. Taking a new employee on as an intern is a great way to see if they are a good fit for your business long-term, give them exposure to different aspects of your business, and potentially see them promoted over time into long-term positions with your business; and
  • a new perspective on your business’ commercial and marketing interests. There are many ways that an intern, particularly if they are young and fresh to the industry, might give a new perspective on your business’ brand, products, and services. Encouraging interns to voice and contribute to your business’ development can sometimes open up new avenues and opportunities for your business. 

What Your Business Should Provide to an Intern

If you decide to offer internships, you should ensure you fulfil your obligations to the intern. While an intern can provide lots of benefits to your business, there are certain things that your business should be providing to an intern as well. Paying them for their work, at least the minimum wage, is a starting point for this. However, your business should also consider what it can provide interns in terms of training and development. Given they usually lack experience, it is important to do what your business can to upskill interns and help them develop.

There are other things businesses should make sure they can provide to interns. For instance, support should not just include training and development but social support as well. It can be intimidating for an intern to start a full-time job, sometimes for the first time. Making sure they have access to a ‘buddy’ or mentor in your business is an excellent idea to help them adjust to your business and make their time at the business a success.

Key Takeaways

Whether your business should offer internships or not will depend on the work and industry of your business, the capacity of your other employees to support a new intern, and whether there is genuine work for them to perform. However, interns can almost always provide real value to most businesses. This value can look like a new perspective on commercial matters, new social energy in the workplace, and potentially a long-term employee if they are a good fit for your business. Your business should provide interns with social support as well as training and development. 

If you would like more information about internships and what the commercial or legal consequences might be for your business, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do interns need to be paid the minimum wage? 

Yes, interns must be paid the minimum wage at least, like other employees performing work in New Zealand.

What benefits can interns provide?

Interns can provide a range of benefits, both in terms of performing work with new skills and their own experiences, and they can also be an excellent way of finding long-term employees for your business.

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