The Paid vs Unpaid Internship Conundrum

To be paid or not to be paid. That is the question. The debates are fierce in regards to internship compensation. Some consider since interns are learning they are not contributing value to the bottom line but that all depends on the company’s internship program.

For example, lets say company ABC prides itself on a well-rounded on-hands internship experience, meaning interns actually work on high priority projects and actually meet with clients or work on product/service optimization efforts. Suppose these interns are specifically chosen for their entrepreneurial spirits, intelligence and grit. Reasonable compensation would be warranted in this instance.

On the other hand, company THG rarely involves interns in projects or meetings with clients and mostly has them run errands. This would not be beneficial for the intern as they are not learning anything but when you take intern economics into consideration reasonable compensation is also warranted.

What is intern economics? Companies must consider the intern’s transportation, professional work wear expenses, lunch expenses, et cetera. Some companies may consider this not their problem but what if they find a great smart intern that has great potential but is not able to afford the transportation costs? A great mind is a terrible thing to waste.

To ensure there is a balance between value received and experience gained employers need to create internship programs that engage interns in projects where they will learn new skills but also make significant contributions to the success of the project. For example, say company THG starts to include marketing interns in data analysis and KPI reporting while being groomed by a seasoned Data Analyst and quickly learn to assess critical variables that can drive campaign optimization efforts. Value is achieved and experience is gained here.

Intern compensation should be reasonable and by no means extravagant ($200-$500/mo). Companies should value their interns just as they value their employees because they might find a “super intern” that they won’t be able to let go.

Contact me now to create your own Value Focused Internship Framework here


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