Internships - Paid or Unpaid?

(This came to me from a Director of Talent Acquisition - Steve)

We are looking to have an internship program at our company. There has been discussion and serious opinions on whether internships should be paid or unpaid.

I think we should treat them as potential incoming talent and also pay them for their time here. We'd love for this to be a talent pipeline as well as a good thing for our culture and brand.

I would love to hear how your companies approach internship programs. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance.

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  • Once upon a time, I worked as a recruiter for a software company. We always hired co-ops/interns. And we paid them. We had a structured program that allowed them to do "real world" work. That gave us a chance to evaluate their work and fit for us and we hired many as FT staff upon graduation. I think there is a huge risk w/ unpaid interns. Doing that will give your employment brand a negative rap in the market. (I also feel it is just not right or ethical to ask interns to work for you and not compensate them.) 

  • I work a lot with college students who are seeking internships (as a part of their college experience). I highly recommend paying them as it helps them to find value in their role. There is also a lot of good research on why it helps. 

    I also wanted to share the "Cincinnati Region Internship Toolkit" as a resource for any employer who is interested in creating an internship program! 

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