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Meaningful Internships

Everyone wins if companies take the time and energy to create a meaningful internship structure. The intern gains valuable experience and knowledge and the company would likely see a high return on investment.

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Too many companies see their young interns as coffee-fetchers and document filers.  Young people are eager to experience a wide variety of work projects and opportunities.  Too often, internships are a waste of time and the intern is not exposed to any high-level projects, meeting, or decisions.  With the increased competitiveness of the job market, young people need to focus on the activities that will have the greatest effect.  

Their skills (even if just an open mind and an enthusiasm to learn) go un-noticed and un-utilized.

Everyone wins when a company has a well structured and meaningful internship.  Interns undoubtedly learn more and feel more invested with the company. Companies that incorporate structured training and professional development into their internship programs would likely see a high return on investment.  Companies could start treating interns like fellows, and involve them directly in their own development.  Or simply expose the intern to the various departments and operations involved in the business.

How can we involve private companies in creating meaningful internships, and what would those internships look like?  How can this shift be supported or incentivized?


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Schools and companies are equally to blame when it comes to the depreciation of the internship relationship.

For companies, "unpaid internships" are too often an excuse to extract cheap labor from a young workforce under the guise of "experience" and "resume building", without. Many companies will wantonly sever the engagement at the end of a project or summer season even after using the promise of potential placement to draw interns in to begin with.

University programs are quick to push students to engage in these types of relationships. Job fairs and message boards are used to advertise to and harvest students for cheap labor. Many visual communications and graphic design programs even require students to locate an unpaid, dead-end internship "for college credit", meaning the student is then PAYING THE COLLEGE to work for free.

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