Internships Shouldn't Be Taken Lightly

Article excerpt

Every year, several million students, career changers and other job seekers get internships in companies large and small.

Some of those employers -- small ones in particular -- won't offer internships ever again.

"It's just not worth it," the owner of one small company in the service industry told me.

"I wanted to offer people the chance to learn, to expose them to our business and teach something," the small-business owner said. "I hear about so many internships where you just do slug work like getting coffee. But I wanted to give them the opportunity to do meaningful work."

This employer's complaint is similar to others:

- The interns are a drain, they say.

- They need babysitting.

- They don't understand how to be professionals nor seem to want to be.

- They don't think through problems and issues.

"We've had four at our company, and none understood anything about our business and how it works," another small-business employer said. "They know nothing about the fundamentals. And they don't know how to conduct themselves."

Was it ever worth it for these smaller employers to hire interns?

"One of my interns understood social media and technology -- up to a point. That worked somewhat," the employer said.

"But his lack of work ethic and professionalism detracted from whatever he did," the employer said.

Age isn't the issue. Another employer described an older career changer who came to her asking for an internship at her company as "enthusiastic and gung-ho."

"I gave him a project to work on and offered insights on how to approach it. There was tons of hand-holding. …