Career Advice Workplace

8 Reasons Why You Should Pay Your Summer Interns

By: Charlotte Couch
Oct 20, 2020 • 7 min read

8 Reasons Why You Should Pay Your Summer Interns

Even though the summer internship season is months away, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you can revamp and improve your program. Some companies look for new and innovative ways to teach their interns, while others try to increase their summer intern application rate. For many companies, their internship pay rate — or lack thereof — plays a large role in their summer intern team’s experience. If your workplace doesn’t already pay your summer interns, now is the perfect time to seriously consider doing so. In this blog post, we’re going over the top 8 reasons why your company should start paying interns.

summer interns

1. You’ll Have Happier Interns

Paid interns = happy interns!

It should come as little to no surprise that paid interns tend to be more satisfied at work than their unpaid friends. Not only are they properly compensated for their work, but they are also given the assurance that their work is valued. Some students who take unpaid internships have to work at a part-time job to support themselves. As a result, they might have minimal availability. By paying your interns, you can ensure their focus remains primarily on the internship program.

2. You Will Attract More Talent

Internship programs that offer a summer stipend tend to attract a higher number of applicants than those that don’t. Students tend to gravitate toward paid internship programs. If given a choice, they will most likely choose a paid program over one that only offers college credit. Many of them have to handle living expenses like gas, groceries, and rent. College credit alone won’t pay the bills. Multiple studies have also shown that paid interns tend to be happier than their unpaid peers. In turn, these happy interns tend to produce high-quality work! Because of their satisfaction with your company, they will be more likely to recommend other students to apply to your summer internship program. This can save you time on recruiting new internship candidates in the future.

summer interns

3. Your Brand Will Maintain a Positive Reputation

Potential customers and employees want to know they’re working with a reputable company. Your business’s reputation can attract a highly-desirable talent pool for your company. However, it can also repel them if it’s marked by intern complaints. These complaints can be about anything from low pay to an unstructured intern program. Investing funds and resources into a well-organized intern program is key to ensuring students get the most out of it. Plus, if they are financially compensated for their work, your interns are more likely going to publish positive reviews on your company’s Glassdoor or Indeed page. In this case, everyone ends up benefiting from implementing a paid internship program!

4. Your Interns Can Live Comfortably for the Summer

Interns need money to maintain a comfortable living situation. Summers are typically great opportunities for these students to save up money for the fall semester. While unpaid internship programs do give them the chance to work in a professional environment, they will likely need a part-time job to pay the bills. If they do find a part-time job, they might struggle to balance their commitment to both the internship and their paid job position. Instead of spreading themselves thin, college students would prefer to obtain a paid internship for the summer.

summer interns

5. You Are Supporting the Next Generation of Leaders

Offering financial support to interns can help them stay focused on their work. Tuition rates for colleges are on the rise. In the past 10 years, the cost to attend university has increased by more than 25%. Supporting your interns financially can help ease their financial burden while also showing your interest in supporting their future. Because they are being paid, they are more likely to treat the internship like a job. Paying them shows them that you are serious about their work, which encourages them to act like valuable assets to the team.

6. You’re Cultivating a Professional Work Environment for Them

Learning to work in a professional environment is crucial for students. For most college students, a summer intern program is their first foray into the professional world. They might have worked part-time summer jobs at restaurants or clothing stores, but the job requirements and expectations for these programs tend to differ from your own internship program. By providing students a paid internship opportunity, you give them a chance to smoothly transition into the corporate world.

summer interns

7. Your Interns Can Become Promising Full-Time Candidates

Intern programs are great sources for finding potential full-time team members. Interns will have the opportunity to work on projects that could impact the future of the company. This also gives them the chance to get to know your business’s corporate culture.

8. You don’t have to worry about getting sued

Companies in the past, like NBCUniversal and Lionsgate, have been sued for not paying their interns. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has established seven criteria for determining whether or not someone is technically an intern:

  1. Both the intern and the company understand there is no expectation for compensation.
  2. The company offers hands-on training similar to something that would be given in an educational environment.
  3. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship.
  4. The intern’s work must complement rather than replace that of a paid employee.
  5. There must be some tie between the internship program and an intern’s academic coursework. For instance, a company could offer credit for the internship.
  6. Instead of having the company benefit from the intern, the intern should benefit from its intern program.
  7. The duration of the internship is limited to the period in which the intern receives beneficial learning.

summer interns

Added Value

Summer interns should not be seen as unpaid labor. Even though these employees are young, they can add a great deal of value to the workplace. Not only can they bring a fresh perspective to your company’s vision, but they can also become its future leaders. That’s why companies need to start investing in their interns and paying them for their work!


More to Explore:

How to Hire and Recruit Great Interns – Here

How to Handle Conflict With a Fellow Intern – Here 

Ending Your Summer Internship – Here 


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