Graduate internships

I am a graduate who’s been out of work for several months. My dad has suggested that I become an intern. What is an intern, and how do I become one?

An intern is a graduate employed by an organisation, usually on a voluntary basis, for a period of time. Most internships last between a week and three months. The organisation benefits from free resource to staff an office or carry out a project, while the young person gains valuable experience for their CV, often some free training, and possibly a work-based reference. Internships are very popular in the USA, and quickly gaining popularity in the UK.

Part of the value of an internship is in the reputation of the placement employer. For this reason, it is important, just as with any job, to do your research well. Intern specialists, UK Student Life, has a list of UK organisations which can help you find work placements.

One exciting development is the concept of ‘Enternship’ – a placement with a company which has a particular emphasis on entrepreneurial activity, such as setting up a branch of a company or a spin-off. Enternship is the brainchild of graduate, Rajeeb Dey, who was named the winner of the O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2009. Find out more on the Enternships website.

There has been a lot of controversy in the press about whether interns displace real vacancies, and whether interns are unfairly used by employers. To avoid this, consider ‘time boxing’ any offer of internship, so that the employer gets your services for no more than three months. Ask what training you will receive, and make sure you are not working unreasonable hours. If you are asked to continue on after the initial period, it would be reasonable to ask for some form of payment, even if it’s only expenses. Unless you’ve made a specific arrangement to do a long internship, the employer should really be thinking about making an offer of permanent employment rather than extending an internship beyond three months.

September 12th, 2009 | Category: graduate | No Comments »

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