Internships are vital for those candidates who want experience to help them get the job that they want. It also allows them to build the confidence and knowledge on the field they are setting out in.

Being an intern means putting in long hours, doing the menial tasks and accepting that for a while it will be tough until you can meet your goals. But internships can also pose as a gateway to exploitation. This can also be a time where companies can exploit someone’s dream in order to get free or cheap labour.

If you feel you can’t take on the internship anymore, that the work and person you are interning for is exploiting you, then it might be time to speak up about it. As much as you might be afraid of what people say the reality is that this is about you and your career.

Infact, when you tell your friends and family this is what you are going through, they might encourage you to rough it out and remind you how great being an intern for this firm might look on your resume.

But the reality is we need to change this mindset. It is time to let go of toxic work culture and introduce a more holistic work environment that thrives on employee wellness. An intern is part of the business and they contribute to you company with their prospective potential.

Internships don’t necessarily have to be negative and leave a bad experience for someone. There are many people who have had good experiences and have even been offered employment after interning.

As an intern there are numerous challenges. You might feel deflated by the lack of perks you get and maybe the enthusiasm on day one might wither away as the time passes by. It might make you feel negative and you could lose hope of ever working in the industry. So, the big question is are internships worth it?

Yes, they are.

Doing an internship means not knowing what to expect. This can be scary and it can leave you feeling uncertain. Whether you are doing coffee runs, answering calls or even just making photocopies, being an intern is all about the experience.

It must be emphasised though that if there is an ounce of unpleasantness then a conversation around the challenges must happen. Speaking to a manager or the person you are interning for can significantly improve the work experience.

At the same time companies are also responsible for the way they treat their interns. The work environment must be conducive to them. It shouldn’t be viewed as, if someone can withstand the pressure and criticism they aren’t cut out for the job. Having an intern means an opportunity to nurture someone’s potential to be of use to your business.

Here’s how companies can improve the workplace experience for interns?

–       When you implement an internship programme ensure that your employees are made aware of the programme. The benefit for the employee is that they would be someone to help with them with their work load and for the intern this gives them a chance to learn from someone with knowledge and experience.

–       Have the intern be groomed by someone that is passionate about their work. If the intern is paired with someone that is negative and constantly criticising the business then they would be entrapped by the negativity. An intern is there to explore and gain experience in the field. They don’t need to be the one that receives negativity from a staff member who resents their job.

–       If your budget permits, make sure the stipend is realistic. It can’t just be covering transport cost. If the intern is expected to pitch up for the full duration of the office hours-plus overtime ensure they are able to be remunerated accordingly. Remember this person is fresh out of college with no experience. You are giving them an opportunity to gain experience but surely, they can also gain some financial support to keep them motivated.

–       Check in on your interns. It is always a good idea to just get an update on how things are going. They could be having a great experience and want to share that with you. If something isn’t going well perhaps having this check in can help addressing it.

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