Why should you pay your interns and how much?

That’s the growing question that a lot of recruiters ask themselves.

Recently, internships have become increasingly popular among companies and students. It helps both students to develop their skills and to be more attractive in the job market, and it also serves as an opportunity for companies to train students, pass on knowledge, and benefit from their young mindset and fresh ideas.

Warning : a student is not a cheaper alternative to an employee, it is a young adult who needs training for them to understand the expectations.

Internships are a two-way investment: the employer invests their time and resources in exchange for the work that is provided. In return, the intern offers time for a formative experience.

Here in Cambodia, students usually do internships in addition to their studies. Furthermore, a lot of Cambodian interns have to find housing near the company or drive a long distance, which is an additional cost. It is therefore important that this internship takes place in the best conditions.

Although Cambodian labor law does not require interns to be paid, there are numerous benefits to doing so.

Why should you pay your interns?

Being paid boosts motivation

Interns feel that their work is valued and it gives them a sense of responsibility. They see that they matter, that people are counting on them, so they will want to be more productive. It also reduces lateness and absences at the workplace.

Attract the best talents

It allows you to attract the best talents, or at least not to set any barriers based on economic criteria: paying them gives you greater flexibility in the choice of applicants because you won't be limited to students who can afford to work without getting paid.

Work for more equality

Indeed, in Cambodia, a lot of students don’t have enough money or support from their families to do an unpaid internship. They have to pay for transportation and lunch, which they wouldn’t have to do if they worked at home. Currently, internships are mostly for students from high-income families.

It's an investment on the future

Training interns requires a lot of time and commitment. Many companies choose to recruit their former interns as employees: this avoids the cost of recruitment and they are sure to have a competent person who knows the job and the expectations. However, according to a study, only 43.7% of unpaid interns turn their internship into a job, compared to 66% of paid interns.

Helps to have happy interns

Paid interns tend to be "happier" in the company, as said before, they feel more valued. This is not the only criteria for interns' happiness and well-being in the workplace, but it matters and plays a key role. They tend to be more willing to come to work and to contribute to the team.

Better working conditions

Students that can’t afford non-paid internships have to take a part-time job at the same time. It makes them work crazy hours, they are less devoted to the company because of their rhythm. If you pay your interns, you will be operating for better working conditions.

Another benefit of your interns' well-being is that they will say positive things about the company and their experience, they will become "brand ambassadors" to their friends, other students, and family.

How much should you pay?

The intern's salary must allow the students to live adequately without having to sacrifice or multiply part-time jobs. At the minimum, they must be able to pay for their transport costs and meals while they are doing their internships. Salaries are usually between $80 and $300 per month, but they depend on several factors:

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The time committed to the company

Some students work part-time in the morning or afternoon, but others work full-time. This should suggest that students working part-time should receive pro-rata pay. However, this might not always be true as the cost of transport for students is the same if they work for 1 hour or 8 hours, so make sure that students can cover their transport costs (especially at the moment when the cost of fuel has gone up significantly).

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The number of years of study

Third or fourth-year student does not have the same skills and abilities as a student who has just started their studies. We cannot expect a student who is just starting out to know how to do everything and be operational right away. This will also be reflected in the internship pay you offer. Year 1 and 2 students should be paid a minimum of $80 for a part-time placement and $100 for a full-time placement. Year 3 and 4 students in Cambodia have more knowledge and soft skills; they are traditionally looking for a placement that might lead to future employment. Their internship pay should be equal to approximately 60-75% of the entry-level salary for the same position. For example, if the same entry-level position salary is $300, the internship pay should be $180-225.

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English as an internship requirement

Increasingly, more and more companies are looking for students with good English language skills. It is important to remember that in Cambodia, these are skills that are accessible to only a small part of the population. Usually, students coming from the best schools are mostly from upper-middle class families, as English language education in public schools is still non-existent or very limited. This has to be reflected in the intern's salary; you will need to pay them more. We would always recommend that you check before adding English as a requirement for your internship position. Is it really necessary? Will the intern need to speak English on a day-to-day basis or will they need to write business letters in English? If not, why do you require English to be one of your criteria? You might miss highly skilled technical interns who just don't speak English fluently, such as in accounting, programming, B2B sales interns, etc. Remember, English ability is not a measure of high intelligence or how smart people are, but in Cambodia, mostly how wealthy your parents are to pay for private English lessons, so check if English is really necessary for you.

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