Barely three days after my article titled “Gaining Valuable Work Experience Through Internship: My Advice for Graduates and Undergraduates” was published on various online portals in Ghana, including www.ghananewsalert.com and ModernGhana.com, I have received a number of emails from graduates and undergraduates expressing their appreciation for the advice.

Some of these graduates and undergraduates also wrote to me to express their frustrations regarding the difficulties they have been facing looking for organisations to do internship with without success.

One of the graduates, a young man, who has been having difficulty getting a job after graduation; and being turned away by organisations he just wanted to do internship with, was so frustrated that he nearly gave up on life. It is as a result of the foregoing that a write this follow-up article to articulate the benefits organisations could derive by giving internship opportunities to graduates and undergraduates.

In today’s tight labour market, where there is a continuous war for talent, offering internship opportunities can be a significant way to attract new talents. In addition, interns can meet short-term needs for extra assistance and bring enthusiasm and current industry knowledge. We live in a knowledge-based economy where businesses with the best talent win. And since more and more companies are relying on internships to recruit talents at the entry-level, there is an ever-increasing need to be part of an internship programme that can evaluate a candidate’s true potential.

In terms of both today’s workload and tomorrow’s workforce, internship is an excellent way to facilitate success at your business. Research indicates that 67.7% of interns were offered fulltime positions after their internships.

Eighty three point six percent (83.6%) of these offers were accepted. Again, it is estimated that 35.3% of employers’ fulltime, entry-level college hires came from their internships. Specifically, here are five key reasons why organisations should give internship opportunities to graduates and undergraduates.

Increased Cost Efficiency

A survey of 250 companies by the University of Cincinnati and the Mead Corporation showed that: Internships prove to be 73 percent more cost effective over the first 21 months of full-time employment, saving more than $24,000 per Intern hired. Again, fringe benefits often consume 25 to 35 percent of personnel costs for employers. These costs can be greatly reduced by using interns in appropriate positions. I believe the situation in Africa and Ghana will not be too different. Usually interns are in mainly for the experience, thus you are not required to pay them. Internship gives you access to a highly motivated and knowledgeable labour pool at no direct cost to your organisation.

Reduced Recruitment Costs
In many instances, the process of recruiting and hiring is a drain on company resources. Internship offers you a cost effective means of recruitment as you have the interns to meet your future vacancy requirements without spending money on advertisement, recruitment fees, and other recruitment costs. In many circumstances, it is more cost-effective to hire an intern than it is to hire a part-time or temporary employee. But in this case, your organisation benefits from these interns without any direct cost. Internships also provide an opportunity to evaluate and screen students/interns prior to making a full-time position offer, which can save your business money.

Internships have also proven to be an excellent way to recruit and evaluate potential employees and provide employers with a flexible, cost-effective work force that does not require a long-term commitment.

A High-Quality and Motivated Employee
A recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), USA showed that more than two-thirds of employers who emphasize college hiring prefer to try out their job candidates before offering permanent employment. Seventy percent (70%) of employers are using internships to create a pool of quality job candidates. Interns are generally enthusiastic and eager to learn. CIPP offers your organisation the opportunity to benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates to ensure that you get the best talent. Businesses have reported converting more than half of eligible interns into full-time hires. If hired in a permanent position, previous interns assimilate faster to their new roles and have shorter learning curves than external hires.

Assist with Addressing Business Needs

Tertiary students are potential candidates that can fill both entry-level and short term job positions. Our interns can help with projects and reduce the workload (short-term/part-time hiring). They can also assist the company to complete special projects, which would otherwise go undone. Having our interns can also provide freedom for existing staff to pursue new or more creative projects.

Opportunity to Evaluate, Select and Develop your Future Talent
Research indicates that about four out of every five businesses using internships as a recruiting strategy report a ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ return on investment. CIPP gives your organisation the opportunity to “try out” our interns to make sure they are good fit. If our intern is performing satisfactorily, your organisation may consider hiring this individual in the future. The human resources reality is that a new employee makes a solid impression at the interview, but may not fit into your organisational culture or current team. Because of this, accepting our interns is the most effective way to evaluate their potential as fulltime employees. CIPP lets you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates.

Assist in Bridging the Widening Gap between Industry and Academia
That a gap exists between industry and academia is not in doubt. My interactions with CEOs and Captains of industry across the country generally show they have concerns with the performance of graduates. They bemoan the seeming mismatch between skills required by industry and what most graduates demonstrate when, and the gap that exists between industry and academia. In my article on “Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry: The Role of the HR” I indicated that industry can help to bridge the gap between itself and academia by making it a policy to accept a number of undergraduates for internship every year, and ensuring that such interns are given the needed training for the world of work. Since industry seeks the kind of labour force that will “hit the ground running”, they should be willing to assist in ways that can affect the quality of graduates they receive. One major way to assist in bridging the gap between industry and academia is by providing internship opportunities to Graduates and undergraduates.
There have been a lot of discussions among policy makers, industry players, employers and academia about this gap, but very little effort has been made towards bridging this gap.
Let me conclude with a call on organisations and captains of industry to give internship opportunities to graduates and undergraduates for the mutual benefit of both the organisations and the interns. Let me also sound a word of caution to graduates and undergraduates seeking internship opportunities that, their focus should not be on monetary gains; but rather on gaining valuable work experience and developing the key skills that would make them employable. Both industry and academia must work together to bridge the gap between them through internship opportunities.
The writer, Mrs Patricia Abena Kissi, is an HR and business consultant, Career and personal development coach, an author; and the CEO of SEDAT Consult Limited. SEDAT Consult provides business support in the areas of recruitment, staff and HR outsourcing, training and development, HR advisory, and business development services (business plan preparation, proposal writing, and business advisory), to meet the business, staffing and training needs of start-ups and SMEs, as well as well-established companies in the country. We also provide personal and career development coaching. Our mission is to ease the business burdens of organisations through the provision of innovative, practical training, research, and human resources and business solutions using proven techniques to address the business needs of our clients.


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