A multi-million dollar corporation is less likely to be concerned about the costs of interns than the potential to find new talent to bring into their firm. The fashion industry thrives on changes in societal attitudes and fast moving trends. An internship in the fashion industry will be an excellent opportunity for the student, but what about for the company?
Hiring an intern has advantages and disadvantages. Like the costs and legalities, the advantages and disadvantages often depend on the individual situation. The key is finding the right match. If the intern is a good match for the firm, the internship will have the advantage of bringing fresh new ideas and creativity to the firm. The intern will enhance the firm, as would any employee that had the right "spark." An intern can help to fill a temporary vacancy in the company, either to be later hired themselves, or to hold the position until a permanent employee can be found.
Another advantage to hiring an intern is the both the company and the intern can "test drive" each other to see if they are a good match without making a more permanent commitment. This can be a key advantage in the fashion industry, as the competition is stiff and there is little room for error. Firms do not have the time to waste with people that do not fit into their brand or their corporate culture. Internships can also be used in a competitive fashion. The company can bring on several interns and they can compete for the permanent positions that are open. The flexibility of internships allows them to be used as a major tool for building the company and enhancing their brand.
Internships have several advantages for the company that makes them an attractive option from the company's standpoint. However, just as there are advantages to hiring an intern, there are also disadvantages as well. Hiring the wrong employee can have a negative impact on the company. This principle still applies to interns. The intern that does not pull their weight can harm the company and the brand that they wish to promote.
Interns are inexperienced and are bound to make mistakes. This is part of the learning process. The relevant question is which mistakes will be made and how detrimental they will be to the company. Interns represent a risk and companies often must consider who will supervise them and how closely they need to be supervised in order to minimize the damage that is caused. This is another key factor in the decision to hire an intern. Interns are beginning level, at best, they have a lot to learn and for most, this will be their first stint into the fashion industry. They cannot be expected to be as valuable and productive as the experienced employee.
Another key disadvantage to the company is that they often do not receive the value from the intern that they receive from a long-term employee. Aside from the experience and potential for mistakes mentioned earlier, the employer must consider the time and expenditure of the training time. Trainees are not as productive as experienced employees. However, the employer expects that in time, the permanent employee will become a productive member of the workforce. This may or may not be true with the intern. The intern may become a permanent employee, or their internship may end before they reach the point of independence and productivity. The company may never see the return for their investment.
As one can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to hiring interns. Whether the proposition sounds enticing depends on the situation and reason for wanting to hire them. These reasons are as different as the firms themselves. Hiring interns is an investment in the future of the fashion industry as a whole, even if the individual firm does not seem to benefit from the exchange. Hiring interns offers a great public relations opportunity as well. Companies that hire interns are viewed as altruistic and interested in education. Whether the intern is paid or unpaid does not have as much weight as other factors within the firm.
Currently, there are many opportunities for different types of internships in the fashion industry. Whether these internships are paid or unpaid has little relevance to increasing the number of opportunities available in the fashion industry. For large firms, the costs of hiring interns are negligible. However, increasing the number of unpaid internships may help to entice participation by small firms, where the costs have a greater impact.
Offering both paid and unpaid internships may or may not increase the number of opportunities available. It depends on the area and the local market. However, if the student is willing to accept both paid and unpaid internships, they will increase their personal chances of landing one. By only looking for paid internships, they are limiting their possibilities. The main outcome of the experience should be focused on the knowledge and experience gained, not on the pay.
A student searching for an internship should consider several things, aside from pay. They should look at the goals of the internship opportunity to see if they are compatible with their own. They should focus on any potential permanent employment opportunities that are available when the internship ends. They should ask what this internship will do for their career and what they hope to gain from it. Internships are a long-term career move.
The focus should be on the long-term future, rather than short-term gains. If this career minded approach comes out, the student will have a much better chance of landing the internship than if they express over-concern regarding pay. Employers will respect the long-term focus and the ability to plan for the future. Projecting one's attention to the long-term future is the best way to let an employer know that one is serious. Making certain that this is the image that is conveyed is the best way to assure success for both the intern and the company. The opportunities for paid and unpaid internships are numerous and the right attitude is essential to make one stand out in this highly competitive field.
Broward University. Internship Rules. Retrieved June 25, 2009 from http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:jXXzaZKORiwJ:www.broward.edu/confluence/do wnload/attachments/1114/Internship%2BRules.doc%3Fversion%3D1+internship+worker s+compensation&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a.
New York State Worker's Compensation Board (2009). Student Interns. Retrieved June 25, 2009