In my time, we have had several interns at Money Savvy Generation. Each one was a “win” for us as a company. They brought new ideas and enthusiasm for the financial education work that we do. They were excited about tackling projects that we just did not have the time to devote to – but needed to get done nevertheless. We know they added value to our organization.  But did we give the same value in return? I think we did.  But many ask should internships be paid or unpaid?

Paid or unpaid?

The internships we offered were nonpaid. I wanted to pay the interns, but the friends who asked us to take on their kids as interns did not want us to pay them. They wanted us to teach them basic work skills. Getting to work on time and dressed for the part. Experience, with deadlines and creative missions that helped them define what they liked to do – and what they did not. It was a heavy responsibility that I was not sure I wanted to take on. I was very aware that we were shaping the work ethic of these talented, young people and did not want to steer them wrong.

Projects flex skills

We gave these interns menial projects and BIG projects. We brought them to the table with us as we worked with clients. When faced with a project that WE could not get our heads around, they executed with stunning success. We re-routed them when they were drifting and helped them understand the world of financial education. While not hard cold cash, we were paying them in our time, experience and the opportunity to try their skills out – and learn from their mistakes and successes in a safe environment.

Internships reveal talents

Whether paid or unpaid, I am a big fan of internships. I think every company should take on the work of an intern. We learned from them, and they from us. In the end, I got around the “no payment required” requests of my friends by giving them a bonus for a job well done. Two of our interns, a brother and sister team, created a video of our work that is still today my favorite piece of our story. Take a look below and encourage your kids to take internships – paid or unpaid.  It will show them just how talented they are.

Below is “A Seat at the Kids Table” podcast segment on the topic of internships as well.  Enjoy!

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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