A 'Good Internship' - Setting New Standards

As a company, we join those criticising the 'bad internships'. Our aim is to set a new standard for 'good internships' and help get more graduates bridge the gap between university and their dream first job.

Uttering the word 'internship' in a public forum has become a red rag to a bull in recent years. It has become increasingly fashionable to bash internships in the media, and assume them to be exploitative and elitist. In fact, I often ready myself for battle when people ask me what I do for a living. The truth is I am proud to be the Marketing Manager for Inspiring Interns, the UK's leading internship agency. Yes, I do sleep at night, and no, I don't think I'm part of a company that seeks to exploit unemployed graduates.

The facts are straightforward. 66% of graduates that come to Inspiring Interns end up with a job directly with the company that their placement was with. A job that on average pays £1500 more in the first year than the salaries earned by graduates who have not done an internship.

A job that isn't 'whatever they could find', and is instead a first step on their dream career ladder. Graduates take part in a placement that provides them with valuable experience and insight into their chosen industry, and doesn't prevent them from claiming the allowances they are due whilst taking part in an internship. Yes, you heard right, internships do not prevent graduates from claiming Job Seekers' Allowance, which is rarely mentioned by those saying only the well off can afford an unpaid placement.

So why all the criticism? Well the truth is, all too often companies run internships with the sole aim of generating free labour and exploiting both the willingness of graduates and the saturated job market. There is such a thing as a 'bad internship'. But that does not mean there is no such thing as a 'good internship'. My concern at the moment is that we are allowing the criticisms of 'bad internships' to cloud the valuable and formative experience provided by 'good internships'.

So what exactly is a 'good internship'? For Inspiring Interns, a 'good internship' is:

  • Meritocratic: We aim to remove the 'it's not what you know, but who you know' attitude to graduate employment. Getting an internship should be about matching you to the company that suits you, your skills, and your ambitions. We're not just talking about academic results, but about character, personality and drive. We want to give as many graduates as possible the chance to put themselves forward for our roles. It's obvious; an intern who fits within a company is more likely to secure long-term employment from them.
  • Practical and insightful: There is no point doing an internship if you are stuck photocopying and/or making tea all day. An internship should offer a real experience of the industry of your choice, giving you the practical skills that go beyond the soft skills learnt in an academic environment. Ultimately an internship should make you a stronger candidate for full-time employment.
  • Properly managed: Too often interns are left aimlessly floating between tasks throughout their placement at a company. To ensure you are getting the most out of your internship, Inspiring Interns believe you should have a clear, structured and tailor-made program that ensures the internship provides value to both you and the company you are placed with.
  • Supported: Inspiring Interns believe no one should be forced to give up their Job Seekers' Allowance whilst completing an internship. We have fought hard to ensure all interns we place are able to claim this vital financial support whilst they build their CV.

So there you have it, these are the qualities that drive the work we at Inspiring Interns do. With more graduates than ever, and only 4% of them securing places on the leading graduate recruitment schemes, 'good internships' are an excellent way of entering your career of choice.

As a company, we join those criticising the 'bad internships'. Our aim is to set a new standard for 'good internships' and help get more graduates bridge the gap between university and their dream first job. While many continue to berate internships on a blanket level, quite simply there are thousands of people in jobs as a result of 'good internships'. I'm one of them, and I'm proud to be helping others to do the same.