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Should You Offer Paid Hospitality Internships?

Internships are an important way of giving back to students seeking to improve their resume skills before leaving college or high school. It’s also a great way to proactively fill a recruiting funnel for down the road.

But interns are labor-intensive additions to your hospitality team, typically requiring closer oversight than a working adult with experience. There is considerable debate over whether paid hospitality internships are worth the time and money.

What are the pros and cons of offering paid hospitality internships? Could there be a benefit for your organization and the students you train?

Benefits of Starting an Internship Program

The labor market is currently very tight, so offering an internship allows companies to open a new pipeline of eager young workers waiting to break into the hospitality field at a time when candidates are scarce.

Offering an internship allows hospitality organizations to test-drive these new employees before offering them a full-time role. It also allows the interns to test drive your company. This approach is effective; the 2016 National Association of Colleges and Employers Internship and Co-Op Survey reported that 67.7 percent ended up working in the company where they interned.

Interns are a low or no-cost resource that allows organizations to cut their workloads by adding warm bodies to the labor pool. Plus, younger interns learn quickly and can bring fresh ideas and talent to an existing team.

But this brings up an important point. Should companies pay their hospitality interns? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Should You Pay Your Interns?

There are legal and moral issues tied to deciding whether you will pay your interns. Legally, if the intern is contributing at all to the bottom line of the company you need to pay them at least minimum wage. If the intern is serving only in a kind of mentor-mentee role, the company can get away with not paying a salary or hourly wage. However, this is risky, as there have been several lawsuits recently alleging that company internships are nothing more than unpaid slave labor. Given that social media can spread bad tidings at digital speed, it might be best to rethink the idea of unpaid internships, depending on the role offered and responsibilities required.

Morally, it’s true that paying someone for a hard day’s work is part of the worker/employer contract. Paying an intern may make them happier, and may also entice them to come back after college or high school is over. Happy employees make better brand ambassadors to potential customers and future interns. Just remember – bad news travels faster than good news, so is not paying an intern worth risking a hit to your reputation if the relationship goes sour?

Gecko Hospitality – Solutions for Your Labor Pool

Gecko Hospitality has a ready-made labor pool that can help your organization get the job done. We offer a variety of solutions and have been named one of the top hospitality recruitment firms in the U.S. Contact our hospitality recruiters for creative employment solutions for your

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