We recently had the pleasure of working with two interns from DeMontfort University (DMU) and we wanted to share our learnings from the experience with you.
As an organisation that encourages businesses to employ inexperienced young people we felt it was important to practice what we preach and in the process gain insights that we could share with others.
Internships are only one of many options that enable you to bring young people into your business – see our free guidance on all the options and what it means for the young person and for your business.
Most universities now have an employability team and targets to match students with businesses. An internship is often funded or part-funded by the university or a sponsor.
For example, at DMU in Leicester, the interns are paid a wage by the university. So, for a business, it’s a risk-free way to ‘try before you buy’ and potentially meet your future employees.
We had two interns for a period of six weeks.
Here are our lessons – the do’s and don’ts:
- Be clear about the objectives for the internship
- Agree what you both want to get out of the experience at the beginning
- Trust the interns to approach the work in the way you have agreed
- Be available to answer queries and check progress on a regular basis
- Leave things until the last minute and instead use agreed milestones to check work has been done
- Assume the interns know anything, be clear on instructions and confirm understanding
- Assume communication channels are working, ask and agree on preferred methods for communicating e.g. phone, email or Whatsapp for example.
What the interns got from us
On the last day of the internship, we did an exit interview with the interns and asked them about their experience. They felt they had increased confidence in speaking to senior people, improved their communication skills and learnt more about the world of work and the wide range of opportunities out there.
What we learnt from the interns
The interns were able to provide us with an impartial view on our work to date.
The interns also gave us a fresh perspective on young people’s approach to and view of the job application processes, by conducting a focus group and survey with university students.
We tasked them with interviewing key stakeholders and learnt that conversations were often more honest and open when the young people were leading.
And finally, as a micro-organisation of just a few people, we were able to take on two interns, proving that if we can do it so can you.
For more reasons why an internship might work in your business, see the business case study by The Watches of Switzerland Group.
For more information about internships with DMU visit their website.