An employer’s view on the benefits of paid internships
Internships have been great for our business. By bringing in third and final year students for a few months we get access to fantastic, talented people who bring new perspectives and, in some instances, new tech, to the company. If we’re really lucky we get some brilliant new employees too.
However, it’s our policy to only offer paid internships.
So why do we pay our interns, and more than minimum wage at that? The short answer is – why wouldn’t we? After all, I wouldn’t expect to work for free so why should I expect someone else to?
The longer answer is many faceted.
As argued in this Summer of Tech blog, unpaid internships are bad for everyone – including employers.
By paying our interns we show both them and the wider company that we value the work that they are doing and that they are important to us. This is further emphasised by the work we give our interns; each intern is given a proper stand-alone project to work on.
If we offered unpaid internships we wouldn’t have a huge pool of people to pick from. After all, it’s only people with money behind them that can afford to take unpaid internships, thus reducing an already tight talent pool even further.
It’s our way of giving back to the local tech community. By providing paid internships we’re helping grow, and importantly, retain the next generation of tech employees and entrepreneurs. This is particularly important in small countries like ours that already have skills shortages.
I hope that unpaid internships become a thing of the past in New Zealand. We want our up and coming superstars to want to stay here and keep New Zealand a great place to live and work and by paying them what they are worth when they are learning their craft we have a greater chance of encouraging them to do so.
Summer of Tech
If you want to know how to find good tech interns, we can highly recommend the Summer of Tech internship programme. Having worked with Summer of Tech for two years now, we have found it an excellent way to find students who are a great match for our company.
The people who run the programme have been doing it for years and have the process down to a fine art. They host a series of events that give employers a chance to interact with the students and provide ongoing support for both the interns and the companies involved.