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Opinions and views from expert CFOZone members.


Aug 11
2010

Help wanted: only interns

Posted by Stephen Taub in unemployment, jobs, interns, CashCareers/Management

Stephen Taub
 

Here is a frightening development from a macro economic standpoint. However, for CFOs, it frankly offers a shrewd opportunity to boost staff without destroying the budget.

A CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 employers found that more than one-quarter (27 percent) plan to hire interns during the remainder of 2010 to help support workloads.

Good for potential interns.

Here's the scary part. Look who is applying for these internships.

According to CareerBuilder, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of employers report they are seeing experienced workers, those with more than 10 years experience. Even more astounding, employers are reporting that workers age 50 or older are applying for internships at their organizations.

This underscores how critical the employment problem has become in this country.

Obviously, companies like interns because they are cheap and don't receive benefits.

Indeed, seven percent said they don't even plan to pay their interns. Another 5 percent said they will hire both paid and unpaid interns.

Just a little more than half (53 percent) said they plan to pay interns $10 or more per hour, which is what retailers pay their unskilled labor.

A benevolent 5 percent said they will pay $25 or more per hour.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, stated in a press release that the past 18 months have reshaped internships as more than an experience-builder for college students.

 "Now, they're also a way for experienced workers to explore new opportunities," she added. "Internships can act as an extended, full-time job interview and potentially lead to more opportunities for college students and for more seasoned employees."

Sounds great, but it is a fantasy. The free market is allowing companies to hire more skilled people for less. Period. This is all that it is about.

And CFOs would be foolish not to take advantage of this environment, especially if their margins are very thin.

Interestingly, 52 percent of companies said they are likely to hire interns as full-time, permanent employees. So, perhaps this is a good way to truly find out who is a good candidate for the job.

In fact, in my past life as an editor and manager, I frequently used college grads as interns as a backdoor way of adding to staff. Eventually it resembled common law. They became a part of the staff's fabric, top management was shocked to learn they were not on payroll, and told me to make their employment official.

Ironically, in some cases, when you computed the per-hour rate, it resulted in a pay cut for the employee, who no longer could charge by the hour for their long days.

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