Companies are missing out on talent by not offering internships, leading employment experts said.
Interns represent a huge amount of untapped talent available to companies in the UAE that will not break the bank.
But it is vital they are not taken for granted and paid a fair wage for their workplace contribution, according to one of the country’s leading recruiters.
The National took a look at why companies should be turning their attention to talented young people willing to take up internships.
What are the benefits of hiring an intern?
There are several, the most attractive being the low cost involved in hiring someone eager to get a foot in the door.
You may not be getting the experience that comes when hiring a new member of staff, but interns are eager to learn, so you can teach them to work to your particular style.
“They are as cheap as chips and there are loads of people right here in the UAE, from so many diverse backgrounds, willing to work as an intern,” said David Mackenzie, group managing director of recruiters Mackenzie Jones.
“It’s very expensive to hire talent in this market. It can be very effective to hire an intern and develop them in the way your company works, thinks and operates.
“A good intern can be a massively valuable resource to your business.”
He said it was vital not to simply saddle them with menial tasks and to remember that the right intern could offer a lot to the office environment.
“You should not be asking them to make the coffee or clean your car," he said.
“Once they move on they can provide great PR by telling everyone how well your company treats people.”
What qualities should you look for?
“The ideal candidate is someone who is out of university and has already done a few weeks interning with another company,” Mr McKenzie said.
“That means they will know straight away how to dress for the office, they know what office protocols are like and they will know how to time manage.”
How do you find a suitable intern?
There are recruitment sites that specialise in interns, but it is also worth checking with local universities, Mr Mackenzie said.
“You can go to universities, because they typically do career fairs that can give you an opportunity to meet potential interns,” he said.
“You can also post adverts on LinkedIn or ask for references and see if anyone is looking for an internship at the moment.”
How much should you pay interns?
Some companies pay interns nothing, or next to nothing, which is counterproductive because it demotivates them, Mr McKenzie said.
“There are companies that are taking interns in and paying them about Dh300 each month, which is unfair,” he said.
“The better companies are taking in interns and training them up while paying them about Dh3,000 to Dh5,000 ($816 to $1,361) per month.
“They shouldn’t be treated as cheap labour and deserve the opportunity to have their skills developed.”
What can an intern offer you?
Interns can provide different perspectives and should be treated as a valuable asset, said Ola Haddad, director of human resources with Bayt.com.
“They are up to date on developing trends and technology, can be easily trained and, of course, bring in brand new ideas and fresh perspectives to an organisation,” she said.
What can you offer an intern?
“[New] graduates want to start building a career right away, and are eager to feel that their thoughts and ideas are heard and considered," Ms Haddad said.
“Instead of treating them as inexperienced candidates who require a lot of training, look at them as talent that can bring in innovative ideas and help your organisation grow,” she said.
It is important to foster an environment of innovation and diversity, she said. “By doing this your company demonstrates that it is open to new ideas and talents.”