3 Reasons To Not Host An Intern

BY Sinead Fergurson |

If possible try and think back to your “big break”, the moment you got your foot in the door. Was it through a family/friend contact? Did you go door to door? Sent your CV through every pigeon hole possible? Or was it a case of right place right time?

Whatever worked for you I’m sure there were points in time where it could have been mind numbingly endless. Did you even end up in the career you wanted for yourself? Did your dream job get lost in the “I’ll do this until I get a chance to do that”? Did you start out with an unpaid internship experience?

However you started out, there was someone who gave you that "big break", and today you might be in a position to help someone else with their “big break”. But do you really want to? Let me help you consider the options with these 3 reasons why you shouldn’t host an intern:

1. Waste of your time and resources

I couldn’t agree more with you. Sit an intern, someone who is well educated and can actively carry out tasks, into a corner and have them filing and twiddling their thumbs is a total waste of time for both you and the intern. But the only way an internship placement will end up a “waste” of time and is if you and the intern go into it with that mind frame.

So how about this: Host an intern with an open mindset, let them sit amongst the team in brainstorming meetings and share their ideas, give them tasks where they get the opportunity to delve into work and learn with enthusiasm, and let them make mistakes that they can learn from.

Pool all of these things together and you’ll have fresh ideas from a new perspective. You would also have unconsciously incorporated team building and mentorship skills within your own team with this intern as a central point.

2. They lack commitment

An unpaid internship placement in Australia can only last for up to 12 weeks. When you take into consideration the time and resources used to train the person for them to leave after 12 weeks, it can sound troublesome. Effectively, you’re training someone to be able to do a job somewhere else.

In the bigger picture, isn’t this the case when you take on full time paid employees? Yes, there are contractual agreements for them to stay on for a number of years, but that doesn’t necessarily secure you a lifelong employee.

The beauty of taking an intern under your wing is that you are presented with a fresh professional who is eager to learn. You can mould them to your business culture and the way you do things. If there is an opening in your company following their internship placement and you choose to offer them a job, you would have ultimately done pre-training so once they start their tenure as an employee, they would already have had a head start because they know how your company works.

What more could you possibly do with all that knowledge and experience but to pass it on to a protégé. You may not be a Steve Jobs but who knows, you could be training one.

3. You’re a one man startup

My own big break came a few years back. I had completed my degree in Marketing (which is not the career path I am in FYI). A whole 9 months later, after sending CV after CV and doing jobs here and there trying to find my way, I finally ended up in the hands of a one-man startup. This was the best thing that could have happened to me.

As a Marketing graduate I was thinking, “I want to work for Unilever” but instead here I was in this smallish office working directly under the owner with no physical colleagues around me. What could I possibly gain from this?


The exposure I gained in less than a year was at a level that would take me at least 5 years, if even, to gain at a major corporation. I was involved in short term planning, long term strategies, proposals, administration, and problem solving. By the way, this was in an IT software company, which I had no previous experience in at all.

The power is with the capabilities of the mentor and the willingness of the student. I’m still lagging far behind in years of experience as compared to the people I work with today, but what I gained from working in that one-man startup gave me the capability to sit amongst these people and be part of the action right now.

You might not make an impact on the whole world but you could make an impact in that one person’s world. That’s a power in its own right and to get to a point in your life and look back and say you helped that happen could make everything else somewhat… worth it.

Considering taking on interns? Performance Careers is one of Australia’s leading work integrated learning placement organisations. We've matched over 8,000 interns with opportunities that more than 2,500 companies have made available in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Find out how to host an intern - it's easy and no cost is involved.

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