Internships can be a valuable experience for both the intern and the employer and in our mind, there is no debate whether internships should be paid or unpaid - they should ALWAYS be paid.
1) Paid internships provide financial stability for the intern. Many interns, especially those who are just starting their careers, may be struggling to make ends meet. An unpaid internship can add extra financial stress, making it difficult for the intern to focus on their work. A paid internship, on the other hand, allows the intern to have a sense of financial security, which can help them to be more focused and productive in their work.
2) Paid internships can help to increase diversity in the workplace. Unpaid internships tend to favor individuals who come from more privileged backgrounds and can afford to work without pay. Paid internships, on the other hand, open up opportunities to individuals from a wider range of backgrounds, increasing diversity in the workplace.
3) Paid internships can lead to better retention rates. If an intern is paid for their work, they are more likely to feel valued and appreciated by their employer. This can lead to a greater sense of loyalty and commitment to the company, resulting in a better retention rate for the intern.
4) Paid internships can lead to better results. Paid interns are more likely to be motivated to produce quality work and to be more productive because they are being compensated for their time and effort. This is not to say that unpaid internships don't produce good results but with the added financial pressure, it can affect the productivity and the motivation of the intern.
From our experience in the early part of Ampersand’s history, where we were placing interns into unpaid internships, we saw firsthand how important it is to pay your interns to see success in the experience. We saw the need for BOTH interns and businesses to need to have some skin in the game for it to be a beneficial experience.