Internships – How Should They Be Set Up?

intern coffee by david boyle, CC licensed

Recently I’ve been having a lot of discussions about internships and how they should be done, how they would work best for both interns and their employers. I used to discuss this from the intern’s point of view. Now that I’m on the other end of the discussion, I don’t just want to switch sides. I’d like to do it better, if possible.

Here’s the main questions that have come up:

  • How long? After some training time, how long is it legit to “keep” your interns? One month, two, three?
  • How much? What is a fair salary reinbursement for interns? This varies from industry to industry, of course. But any idea is appreciated. (I’ve had only unpaid internships and never regretted them, but a world of unpaid internships is not the world I want see. Everybody has to eat.)
  • What? What kind of tasks are legitimate, and what kind of tasks make sense? Of course every company loves the fully studies, near-pro intern to take some workload off. But let’s face it, that doesn’t make sense. So what’s a realistic set of tasks that is both challenging yet not overly so, and where do the company’s needs come in here?

It’s really quite a dilemma since so many companies (and non-profits, universities, political institutions etc) rely on interns, and interns need the experience (both for themselves and their CV). Still, there seem to be an awful lot of questions that haven’t been resolved.

So I’d like to open up this point to discussion: What’s a good way to go? Thank you!

Image by David Boyle (some rights reserved)

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