Business Monday

Most CEOs provide paid internships, and everyone benefits

Miami Herald/Photo Illustration, File

This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: Does your company hire paid interns? Why or why not?

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At Avison Young, we intentionally seek to hire paid interns every summer at each of our offices. Our company is known for its tremendous senior talent, and as such, one of our main objectives is to develop the brokers of the future. By recruiting and training interns, we are able to provide exposure to a corporate environment and the tools to develop skills of top achievers in the commercial real estate industry. We, in turn, get a good look at their work style and potential to ultimately identify which interns may be possible candidates for permanent positions at a later date. With many of our leaders engaged in University Boards, Avison Young is a supporter of higher education and has a passion for sharing knowledge and developing young talent.

Donna Abood, principal and managing director, Avison Young

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We absolutely hire paid interns; usually at one to three a year. Interns are great for so many reasons — for one, they bring a youthful energy and limitless perspective to the organization. They are great teachers of technological advances and all things social media. And they afford us the opportunity to hire and train future employees, at a lower pay rate than what they would make post-graduation. In the past three years, we hired three paid interns, all of which are full-time employees for our company today.

Adelee Cabrera, regional director, Starr Catering Group

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We are not able to hire paid interns due to budget constraints. We are a small, but mighty, not-for-profit, completely dependent on our volunteers.

Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida

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Yes. Through our summer clerkship program, we recruit top-performing students from law schools within our state and across the country. Our firm is deeply invested in this community, and we use our summer clerkship program to attract our brilliant Miamians to stay or return to our community and to expand our community’s talent base. Our firm continues to innovate and the voices of these interns, who become lawyers in our firm, help drive our progress. Bilzin Sumberg is already training our third- and fourth-generation firm leaders. Former interns are among our current and future firm leaders. And, we can proudly point to many community and civic organizations in which our former interns are making a difference.

Albert E. Dotson Jr., partner, Bilzin Sumberg

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We value the work that our interns contribute to our organization. Generally, our clinical interns work through school programs and don’t get paid. We do have one paid administrative fellow who holds a graduate degree through an accredited program and works to gain job experience for future employment. Through all these internship programs, both clinical and administrative, we feel we are developing and impacting the future workforce.

Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, president and CEO, Memorial Healthcare System

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The Council for Educational Change is a nonprofit organization. We do not hire paid interns, rather, we welcome volunteers to assist us in implementing our mission: to engage business executives in education to improve performance in public schools. Approximately 80 percent of the resources we garner through grants and/or donations go directly into implementing our school leadership programs. Currently, we have almost 150 business leaders engaged with schools, providing approximately 600 volunteer hours working with school principals, teachers, and students.

Elaine Liftin, president and executive director, Council for Educational Change

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First of all, we love our #MiniCircleGladiators! We’ve been fortunate to have interns from all over the country from the finest universities. More recently we’ve found “intern gold” in Miami’s high school students in partnership with Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan, Miami Dade Teen Court and CareerSource South Florida. In more than 15 years, we’ve had approximately 75 interns. Recently, I received a lovely message from Courtney from our 2013 internship program, who said working with the #CircleGladiators was one of the most enriching and life-changing experiences of her young life. The Circle team is known for working “like ants,” so any intern gets thrown into the fire and, as the saying goes, “with time and pressure, coal becomes a diamond.” It’s usually painful, but always worth it. Most recently, we began paying stipends for interns that are almost out of college (like Carlos from Boston University, who is amazing) so we can feed them into our human resource pipeline. I expect to hire at least four people in 2017; I anticipate at least one of them will have started as an intern.

Suzan McDowell, president and CEO, Circle of One Marketing

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Yes, at TotalBank we budget each year for paid interns for a few reasons. We have found that in some cases these interns are strong candidates for permanent full time positions after they complete their coursework. This builds candidates that have a high degree of familiarity with the company and we are comfortable they will fit our culture. We also understand the inherent inequality in unpaid internships as those tend to favor individuals who can work without pay. We choose to compensate our interns for the effort they bring us. At our company, we also believe education is important to our community we and view these internships as a way of supporting that value. Lastly, we actually learn from the interns; benefiting from bringing in people with fresh ideas.

Jay Pelham, president, Total Bank

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We hire interns and we do pay them. Typically, interns are hired for certain areas in which we are seeking a part-time professional to support the goals of those particular areas. We are also trying to create opportunities for graduate students to gain work experience and strengthen their confidence and expertise.

Dr. Larry Rice, president, Johnson & Wales University North Miami Campus

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We have hired paid interns, mostly in the summer when we have more children on a daily basis. Mostly, they have helped in administration.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

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Yes, for a number of reasons. First, interns are motivated and excited about the opportunity to contribute and learn. We’ve found that interns bring a fresh perspective and a new way of looking at things that is beneficial to the organization. Often times, because interns have little to lose and no institutional bias, their willingness to take risk in making comments or recommendations delivers great value.

Vincent Signorello, president and chief executive officer, Florida East Coast Industries

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Yes, we do. Our interns come from universities in Florida or elsewhere in the U.S.A., as well as overseas. Currently, we have two interns, one from a university in Philadelphia and one from a university in Barcelona. We feel that paying them helps to ensure we secure the best possible candidates while also assisting them with expenses in their adopted home for a semester.

John Tanzella, president and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

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Although I have personally been a mentor to many young professionals, it is not our policy to hire interns. In a wealth management profession, there is an extreme degree of confidentiality and data security requirements with the data we have on file, and our clients value our discretion. But I believe that interns, in the right environment, are a great asset and should be paid for their time.

Faith Read Xenos, co-founding partner, Singer Xenos

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The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included:

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