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Alternative Ways for Businesses to Compensate Interns

Fri, Sep 28, 2012

Internship Information

There are two main ways in which interns are generally compensated under the law. In some cases, interns may be given monetary wages like an average employee. Although they are virtual contract workers within an organization, receiving pay for performance, they will likely be let go when the set date of termination for the internship program arrives. Often they are also paid less than other types of employees because much of their time is spent in training rather than contributing to the company’s bottom line. A second and more common form of compensation for interns comes by way of class credit. There are strict regulations governing what interns in unpaid positions are allowed to do, which is why some companies prefer paid internship programs. But students that are offered no wages for their position will receive progress reports from their “employer” so that they may be given a grade for their independent study. Of course, there are other forms of compensation that interns will earn during their time in the working world.

For starters, students involved in internships will gain invaluable information and experience. Many interns have never held jobs before, so this gives them an opportunity to see how offices in their field of study operate before they are actually responsible for contributing as an employee. They will learn how to behave appropriately in a professional setting, at the very least. And most internships offer more than just two afternoons a week learning how to answer phones, greet guests, enter data, and put away file folders.

Businesses that provide no monetary compensation often entice student interns into their programs in other ways, by offering to introduce them to leading technologies and educational opportunities that they don’t have access to at the college level. They may teach interns to use software or machinery that is standard to the industry, or they might allow them to sit in on meetings or attend conferences as a way to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of a corporate setting. All will help students in their future endeavors and contribute an entry to their résumé.

Of course, in the business world, who you know is almost as important as (and sometime more than) what you know. Nearly every student coming out of a degree program will possess the same basic knowledge. So how can graduates compete against their peers? Having the experience of an internship is great, but students that fail to network during their time in an office are missing out on a major form of compensation. While impressing the right people during an internship opportunity could deliver on a job offer after graduation, this is far from a foregone conclusion, and many businesses explicitly state that they will not promise job placement following an internship. But the student that makes the effort to connect with professionals during an internship could reach out for help securing jobs for years to come.

Of course, the type and scope of compensation received for an internship will vary by the industry, the state, the company, and the student. For example, internships for online nurse midwifery programs may offer vastly different rewards from civil engineering internships. The point is that students need be proactive when it comes to internship situations, researching different options offered, speaking with past recipients, and then getting everything they can from the experience. In truth, the compensation can be far greater than simple wages or a letter grade.

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