Myth vs. Fact

Myth: My company should hire a student pursuing a bachelor's degree as an intern.

Fact: Before jumping to hire an intern from a traditional four-year college, consider what community college students have to offer. You may be surprised to find that a student working towards an associate's degree has just the skills you are looking for.

The community college curriculum is intensive and specific, so you may find that a student has had more advanced training in a field sooner than a bachelor's degree student with a similar focus. For example, a student in his or her second year at a community college is probably receiving job-specific training and is preparing to enter the job market very soon.

Also, many students attend community colleges to prepare for four-year degrees. Because of the rising cost of higher education, students find that it may be less expensive to enroll in a program that allows them to complete an associate’s degree before transferring to a four-year institution. An intern from a community college is likely to one day complete a bachelor's degree and can grow with your company in the meantime.

Myth: It is better for a company to hire a traditional-aged intern who can grow within our company.

Fact: It has become common practice for employers to hire traditional college students as interns, yet many employers have never considered the benefits of bringing a nontraditional student on board. With adults returning to college campuses to begin or complete degrees at increasing rates, the college student population is changing.

Adult students have probably worked in a professional setting prior to becoming a student, and that experience can be valuable to employers. Because so many juggle various roles in addition to being a student, adult students have developed excellent organizational and time management skills that can also be indispensable to employers.

Myth: When searching for an intern, employers should only hire students from majors related to the field.

Fact: While many industries and employers benefit from students with specialized majors, others are finding that liberal arts interns are flexible, have a breadth of knowledge, and are willing to take risks and learn new skills. Students in the liberal arts majors possess skills sets that are valued by employers in a wide variety of industries.

Examples of Liberal Arts Majors

  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • Justice Studies
  • Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

If you are searching for a student with exceptional writing, communication, critical thinking, research and analytic skills, a liberal arts major may be the perfect fit for your company’s internship program. Liberal arts students bring all of these attributes with them, and they are enthusiastic about developing new skills and experiences as well.

Myth: My company cannot host an intern because we cannot afford to pay the intern.

Fact: While employers are encouraged to pay wages to interns, sometimes budget realities make that impossible. Fortunately, there are some options available to employers who can only offer unpaid internships. First, there may be subsidies available from the college or from industry associations to help pay the student’s internship wage. In addition, some students are willing to work in an unpaid internship, understanding that the experience itself makes it worthwhile. Ideally, these students are earning college credit in lieu of a wage—which may be a fair compromise—though employers must understand that the student still has to pay tuition to earn the credit, which maybe a financial burden.

Regardless, an internship program must be carefully structured and documented to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor's Hour rules and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers should check with an attorney specializing in employment for guidance on their specific situation.

Myth: There is no real benefit to internships other than community service.

Fact: Employers in the Columbus Region benefit from internships in multiple ways. Increasingly, employers use "prior work experience" as a criterion when evaluating candidates for entry level positions. Through meaningful college internships, newly-minted graduates can clearly demonstrate previous experience.

In addition, employers are able to "test drive" interns as potential employees, gauging both technical competency and cultural fit against company expectations. And because students are able to make the same assessment, recruiting costs are reduced because better hiring decisions are made. There are significant savings when converting an intern to a full-time employee. Click here for Cost per Hire.

Moreover, internships strengthen the relationship between the academic community and employers. Employers can communicate directly with educational institutions about changing skill requirements, trends in technology, etc.

Finally, research shows that connecting college students to meaningful internship opportunities with local employers heightens the chance that they will stay in the community after graduation. Because of this "stickiness," internships benefit the Columbus Region, making everyone stronger by counteracting the "brain drain." Students who intern for local companies are more likely to stay in that community after graduation.

Indeed, today's savvy college students understand that an internship is critical to their education. Even if participation is not a formal part of their academic program, they will seek out internship opportunities for their own benefit. They gain real world experiences that are often not attainable in a classroom setting. They understand that an internship will set them a part from other candidates without internship experience.

Myth: Students are only able to do a limited type of work.

Fact: In fact, here's a list of projects that interns can work on. Learn more about how to create a meaningful internship program. Preview a list of projects based on occupation here.

Myth: Internships take place only during the summer.

Fact: While the archetypal internship takes place during the summer, students seek internship opportunities throughout the year. Therefore, employers can offer internships when it best fits their schedule, with confidence that students will be available. Not only is there flexibility in when internships can happen during the year; they can be any combination of full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, and for credit (through a participating university).

Myth: Finding an intern requires a tremendous amount of work, knowledge of how to navigate college campuses, and big HR budgets, so that only the largest employers are able to do it.

Fact: It is true, many employers have the resources to engage a college relations staff. The staff in this department is responsible for developing relationships and building an on-campus network among faculty and career sources staff as well as students. Through these networks, they are able to identify the best and the brightest to work for them in high quality, meaningful internships to meet the growth needs of their company. Think of as your college relations department.