Graduate internships and how to get the best out of them

September 22, 2015

What are the benefits?
Graduate internships are a new form of working for many employers. You are fast-tracking sharp-minded graduates to achieve real results. In return, through carefully planned job experience, you guarantee to build the employee’s skills and employability. Whether the job holder is paid for the three-to-six-month period depends on the position. In most cases there will be a salary reflecting the balance between the benefits the graduate brings to the business and the skills and experience they are acquiring. If a graduate shows particular talent they can be recruited for a permanent post but you are under no obligation to recruit.

Structure the internship
You will be using your intern as a change consultant and investigator, so first, brainstorm with colleagues key tasks that would benefit from change. Interns could work on IT updates, or make improvements to internal communication or company benefits. Second, focus on ends rather than means: identify projects, know the results wanted and how those projects add value. Third, ensure the graduate is managed by the people who will benefit most from the projects’ outcomes.

Consult and engage others
Ensure that all staff, from the most senior downwards, are not left wondering about the keen “temp” seen to be networking across departments. Communicate the purpose of this new way of working. Involve others as mentors, which will develop the coaching skills of your permanent staff.

Establish a climate of success
By the very nature of the contract, both you and your graduate need to achieve results relatively quickly. Therefore sharpen your own leadership skills. Support, but do not spoon-feed. Make the intern responsible for organising a fortnightly agenda-led progress meeting. And remember the power of praise.

Measure success
Evaluate the placement by measuring success in terms of benefits to the organisation: tangible results, new ideas and opportunities for permanent staff to coach. Then aim to say farewell to an intern who has the skills, work experience and confidence to succeed in their first permanent post.

Where to get further information
HR180 have worked closely in the past with Graduates Yorkshire who are dedicated to graduate recruitment within the Yorkshire and Humberside region. They work with employers to find the best candidate for the role. Also Graduate Talent Pool, is a job board for graduates seeking internships and presently there are currently 1,657 vacancies including 1,644 paid vacancies.

Some blogs you may also wish to read apprenticeships and internships:

Why more employers should embrace digital apprenticeships
Reserve thousands of apprenticeships for care leavers, urges charity
Apprenticeship levy set to launch in 2017
Osborne’s Budget boost for apprenticeships


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