If you have chosen to read this article, you are most likely asking yourself why Whitehouse Laboratories is publishing an article on college internship programs. Well, before we proceed, let’s answer that question.

First, over the last 4-5 years, Whitehouse Laboratories has implemented an effective and aggressive intern program for college students specific to our areas of service. In most cases this includes engineers, chemistry, biology and material science students but we have hosted business and pharmacy students as well. Second, we have seen great success with our interns in a mutually beneficial manner. We currently have 5 five full-time employees who, sometime over the past 4 years, started at Whitehouse Laboratories as an intern while still matriculating at college. Finally, our experience has shown that identifying and developing employees at a young age, can lead to employees that are better equipped to understand the company and job at hand, more eager to learn and succeed in the real world environment and bring a sense of commitment and loyalty because they are appreciative of the early opportunity granted them.

As April is the time of year when we finalize our summer intern assignments, the topic was top of mind and lead me to do some research on internships in general. In my search, I came across an organization called College Parents of America (www.collegeparents.org) that published some interesting articles and facts regarding the need and value of interns:

“Participating in an internship is an important experience to complement the learning that your student is doing in the classroom.  It can provide her with some good practical experience. However, there are many additional, somewhat more concrete reasons why your student may want to be sure to include an internship in her college experiences.”

  • According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), nearly 50% of employers would like to see an internship on a student’s resume.
  •  An internship can serve as a screening device for employers.  Again, according to a NACE survey, nearly 36% of employers hired employees from their own internship program. According to Matthew Zinman of the Internship Institute, IBM may convert as much as 50% of their interns into full time employees.
  • An internship gives a student an opportunity to “audition” a job or a field before taking a permanent position.
  • Students who complete internships may discover gaps in their practical knowledge which may affect their course selection in subsequent semesters.  They will have the opportunity to fill in gaps before they graduate.
  • The experience of obtaining the internship itself may be part of the value of the experience.  The student will need to write a cover letter and resume, complete an application, and interview for the position.
  • Your student will gain valuable practical experience about a particular job and/or the work world in general.
  • An internship looks good on a resume – and employers are increasingly expecting to see an internship on a student’s resume.
  • Your student may make important contacts and have an opportunity to do some networking which will benefit him when he begins looking for a permanent job.
  • Employers like to hire students who have completed internships because it may increase job retention.  They know that interns have experienced the profession and the work world and “know what they are getting into.”  Your student, too, is more likely to have the practical experience to choose her job more carefully and therefore stay in the job she takes.
  • Your student may earn academic credit.
  • Even if your student finds that he does not enjoy what he is doing during his internship, he will have gained valuable experience.  He may have learned an important lesson about what he does not want to do, or a work environment in which he will not thrive.
  • Students who complete internships may receive higher salaries when they are hired.
  • Very simply, an internship may lead directly to a job offer.
  • Finally, many internships are fun – and great self-confidence builders.

“It is important that both students and parents understand that completing an internship is not a guarantee of a job.  There are no guarantees.  However, students who complete internship experiences, or multiple internship experiences, may have an advantage when it does come time for the job search.  Employers recognize the advantage of an internship, but even more importantly, the experience and confidence your student will gain will be vital.  Encourage your student to seek and experience an internship if at all possible.”

As I read through the comments and facts presented by the College Parents of America organization specific to intern programs, I could not help to agree with each point. Whitehouse Laboratories has seen great success with our programs and we are constantly working to improve and enhance them. In the summer of 2014, we participated in a New Jersey state funded Chemistry Intern program through Bergen Community college. This lead to the hiring of one of the 5 students assigned to us. We have also worked closely with our local Community College (Raritan valley) and have thus implemented an employee sponsored education grant program to assist students (who become employees) with continuing their education. We have worked with Bucknell University on both winter externship and summer internship programs – yes we have one employee who came through this program and we have a new summer of 2015 Intern coming in as a result of the winter extern program. Over the past few years, we have worked with other students to earn credit for the work they complete at Whitehouse Laboratories. Even more impressive, we have worked with interns who, through the work they completed at Whitehouse Laboratories, have co-authored peer-reviewed scientific papers.

While a few years ago, we simply stumbled into the “intern” program, today it is an important and valuable tool our entire management team works on year round. We are constantly looking for the next great intern and we take great pride in the commitment we have made to the development of the next generation work force.