What Do Interns Want?

What Do Interns Want?

By Evan Ballou, High School Intern, DMS, Inc.


Internships are a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in a particular career field. When a company provides a student or adult with an internship, they are providing experience that is unable to be found anywhere else. However, not all internships are created equal. Some, if poorly managed, can even drive talented newcomers away from an entire field. The key to success in this arena, and your ability to retain more talent, will come down to how well your company aligns its strategies with the types of elements that interns are seeking.

So, what is it that interns want? I spoke with several of my peers in our internship program and have outlined the top five biggest desires that interns hope to receive during their internships.


  1. Meaningful work is a top priority among interns. Participating in work that contributes to a company allows an intern to feel that their work is valuable and appreciated. Providing interns with important work makes them excited and looking forward to going to work every day. A happy worker is a productive worker. Challenging work increases motivation to complete work and get things done in a timely manner. Tasking interns with projects that will contribute to the company will leave them feeling confident in their future internships or full-time job opportunities. Companies will also reap the benefits of higher productivity because of having more assistance on their projects.


  1. Appropriate compensation is an important factor in internships. Interns are performing work at a company, and they should be compensated appropriately for their contributions. Many interns feel that it is unfair to receive low or no pay for their work. With the increasing costs of obtaining a college degree, paying interns fairly will allow them to offset some of their debt and achieve a measure of financial stability. This, in turn, may also boost their productivity while they’re interning at your company.


  1. Interns want someone they can learn from that is open to mentoring them. This is very much a two-way street in terms of positive benefits. Providing an intern with the opportunity to learn from established employees will enable your company to pass on some of its most valuable skillsets and will also greatly enhance the intern’s development. As this mentor/mentee relationship grows, interns can take on more challenging tasks and aid your company even further.


  1. Networking is an important aspect for interns that is often overlooked. Interns want to be able to build relationships and make connections with their industry colleagues. Including your interns in office events, meetings, and regular conversations can help them boost their network. Inclusion will improve the intern’s morale and improve the likelihood of them coming back to work at your company in the future. Connecting with interns allows employers to learn about the potential employees they could hire in the future. As the old saying goes, “It’s who you know, not what you know.”


  1. Deciding a career is one of life’s biggest decisions to make, and it should be a process of discovery. Part of doing an internship is to gain a sense about whether or not you can see yourself in a particular career path for a long period of time. It also helps you decide if you want to major in a specific field in college. In other words, think of internships like a first date. They’re an opportunity to get to know what your interests are before you make a long-term, life-altering commitment.


Providing your interns with these items listed above will set your company apart from others in your industry. Giving your interns these benefits will set them up to succeed in their future endeavors in the workforce, and there’s also the added benefits for your company in having a much more highly engaged employee on your roster.

Click to share!