So not a hard day's work

Studying was never my cup of tea, which is probably why I never got scholarship-worthy grades in school. But, if interns back in those days got the perks that some of their contemporaries today enjoy, I might have changed my mind about school.

Studying was never my cup of tea, which is probably why I never got scholarship-worthy grades in school. But, if interns back in those days got the perks that some of their contemporaries today enjoy, I might have changed my mind about school.

Interns at the U.S. campuses of Microsoft in Redmond and Google in Mountain View, get free food, free clothes, tickets to baseball games and sunset cruises, and even housing allowance. Microsoft interns are even flown in for a tête-à-tête over BBQ at Bill Gates' humble abode.

With recruitment now a challenge for many enterprises, including those in Asia, interns might just be the answer to the skills shortage.

IT companies like Microsoft and Google, are hitting international career fairs and visiting universities in a bid to persuade graduating students majoring in engineering, computer science, physics, math and electrical engineering to take up internship programs with their organizations.

This would allow companies to have a first go at offering the interns permanent positions, and more often than not, the young ones would feel more inclined to stay loyal to these organizations. The early birds get the worm, so to speak.

But that's a far cry from how interns in some other companies are treated today. Businesses imagine interns to be a hassle, especially since full-time staff hardly have time to complete their own work, much less have time to properly train and supervise an inexperienced youngster who's barely out of school.

So interns usually end up as coffee fetchers or errand runners, and the office photocopying room becomes their second home. At best, some companies welcome interns because they're deemed to be cheap labor.

Okay, so I also wouldn't mind having a minimum-wage addition to my news team--better yet if it's free--but I've been inclined to believe, too, that interns could prove to be more trouble than its worth, particularly if they all turn out to be a Homer Simpson.

But with the current talent crunch, interns could be the answer to the recruitment challenge, and the hiring tactics of companies like Microsoft and Google, may be the way to go if we want to attract the best people.

What would it take for you to hire an intern? Anyone out there has a horror story to share about interns?