The Untapped Pipeline: Harnessing the Power of Internships for Business Success

By Melissa Slater, Hughes Agency
January 11, 2024


cassie thompson infinity

Endeavor’s latest members-only Getting Down to Business speaker series featured Cassie Thompson, SHRM-SCP, Director of Organizational Development at Infinity Marketing, detailing how having an internship program can be great for your business, even if you’re smaller or a start-up.


As a millennial professional who went through a couple of internships (many moons ago), I was familiar with the “generic” definition of an internship, but was a bit in the dark on how much the internship landscape has truly evolved (in a positive way) since my college days.

By definition, an internship is a temporary position offered by an organization for a specified period of time that allows individuals (often students or recent graduates) to gain practical experience in a particular industry or field. Additionally, an internship should be a partnership with mutual benefits.


Pretty straightforward, right?


All of my professional experiences have brought me to where I am today, so I have no regrets, simply perspective. And that perspective allows me to say that my experiences with my internships did not exactly fall into the “mutual benefits” category.


Thankfully, Thompson stopped by Endeavor to teach an audience of business owners, leaders, and workers alike, why all companies should not only have an internship program, but also the value in said internship program being mutually beneficial for both the intern and the organization.


So, what does this mean?


A company with a successful internship program can experience the following benefits:

Pipeline of future employees
Current employee retention
Enhanced, fresh, cutting-edge perspective
Access to additional skillsets
Leadership and mentorship opportunities for current employees
Brand enrichment as business community leader and role model


An intern in a successful internship program can gain:

Hands on experience
Experience in a new industry
Experience in a new role
A potential to restart careers
An introduction to the professional world
Opportunity to ramp up to a full-time offer


Compensation is usually part of the conversation when deciding whether to add an intern to an existing business team, and is important to the “mutually beneficial” aspect of the intern/employer relationship. Thompson put it quite simply: “Pay your interns.” Paid internships provide a stronger pool of applicants, offer an opportunity to employ students who need to pay their way through school, and additionally, provides the possibility of helping someone feasibly restart their career. However, if financial compensation is a complete barrier starting out, companies can also consider offering college credit – or beginning with a briefer intern experience, like a month rather than a whole summer – to keep costs under control while building your business.


internships session

Many small business owners may feel that offering an internship is not the right move for their situation. Theres a fear that having an intern may be more trouble than it’s worth, or a fear that it would be difficult to manage. The great news about hiring an intern, especially in a small business, is that you can structure that internship however it best makes sense for your business. As noted above, a point many people might look past, internships have no specific time requirement. An internship can be short-term or long-term; again, whichever works best for your business. Starting with an intern for a brief period of time could end up leading to a longer, richer internship experience in the future, and maybe even a permanent position.


Although most graduations happen in May, December is a big month for college graduations as well. So, if you are looking to grow your company in this new year, consider offering an internship to a recent graduate and follow Thompson’s advice. It very well could be the best business decision you’ll make in 2024.