Worker Shortage Solution—Offer Internships  

How can employers compete for workers during this hiring shortage? Employers can jump to the front of the recruiting line by offering an internship! 


Internships are based on the concept of an inexperienced worker learning and training under the direction of a more experienced employee for a pre-determined length of time. Traditionally, students have filled internship roles, but lately, the concept of an internship has expanded to include more established workers trying out a new career.  


There are real monetary advantages of implementing an internship program. The National Association of Colleges and Employers study found that almost 40% of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees hired from their paid internship programs. Employees who start as interns are more likely to stay with the company because they have established relationships with co-workers and have fully integrated into the company culture. It was estimated that employers saved $15,000 in training, hiring, and turnover costs for each employee hired from their intern pool.  


Internship programs can be used as a prolonged job interview or performance audition for both employers and job seekers. Interns get to see if the type of job, industry or company is the right place for their work future. Employers get an extended look at the intern’s work habits, attitude and whether they are a good “fit” for the company. When hired as full-time employees, they are already familiar with company processes and goals. However, don’t forget that all paid internships are still subject to state and federal employment labor laws! 


An unpaid internship is an obligation-free way to explore a career. Offering unpaid internships is also an excellent way for your company to give back to the community. Student interns recruited from a local educational institution allow an employer to cultivate the school as a future hiring source. However, paid internships can help students pay for college, avoid student loan debt, and their work can be listed on their resume as their first paying job. What a great way to help develop the next generation of workers! 


Take note: all unpaid internships are governed by the Department of Labor [DOL] and must meet a six-point criteria test. If an unpaid internship does not meet the DOL criteria, then the intern is considered an employee who is now entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay—just like regular employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA]. The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement decrees that interns must be paid unless the internship satisfies the DOL six-point test. Employers who pay interns below minimum wage expose their businesses to wage violations that could end in a lawsuit. Unpaid internships for nonprofit charitable organizations are generally exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws.  


Interns bring enthusiasm, a fresh perspective, and new ideas to the job—and that energy can keep management and current staff inspired and revitalized! Intern Success Story: Cardinal hired an intern just under three years ago from our local community college’s student business club. She just received her third internal promotion last week…internships work!