Intern Premiums Rising

By Laff, Michael | Talent Development, July 2009 | Go to article overview

Intern Premiums Rising


Laff, Michael, Talent Development


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Once considered an expendable body who makes photocopies and kills time, interns are again emerging as a valuable source of talent for companies that are strapped financially.

In the past internships were modeled after apprenticeships whereby an upstart provides assistance in exchange for acquiring mastery of a particular skill.

Now as knowledge is king, the demands are changing. Working in different environments and acquiring soft skills ranked ahead of technical skills, according to a recent survey about the skills value of internships.

"Employers are looking to reduce ramp up time; they're looking for someone who is familiar with the office environment and their software," says Dave Wilmer, an executive with the Creative Group, which conducted the survey of advertising and marketing executives.

Interns can fill that gap with short-term, lower-cost labor with the limited commitment that companies are desperately seeking. Their advantages are obvious. As many are recent graduates who are eager to jump into the office environment, if they work out they can be hired at lower cost than a more seasoned candidate. As employers continue to shed jobs, the work has not gone away even if the number of people available to do it has.

"Because of layoffs a lot of companies are short staffed," says Wilmer. "They need more from their people."

Interns should be aware that the benefits identified by managers in the survey are the ones they look for in their next hire. No longer are specific technical skills paramount. An employer can teach new tricks. Instead they are looking for someone who can take initiative and transition quickly from one assignment or one team to the next with little or no explanation. …

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