With competition for jobs fiercer than ever, the benefits of internships are hard to ignore. Not only do they provide students and graduates with vital skills, they can lead on to full time positions. It’s no wonder then that in the last ten years, unpaid internships have boomed with companies enticing prospective candidates with valuable experience but no money. But are these positions legal? Are they right for you? And how can you make the most of them? Here’s everything you need to know.
Know Your Rights
Under minimum wage legislation, unpaid internships are illegal. If the position requires you to attend for specific hours and complete designated tasks, you are working for that company and as such they must adhere to the National Minimum Wage (£5.90 per hour for 18-20 year olds, £7.38 for 21-24 year olds, and £7.83 for over 25s).
Back in February, business minister Andrew Griffiths admitted that more needs to be done, saying, “Employing unpaid interns as workers to avoid paying the National Minimum Wage is against the law and exploitative.’’
So if you are offered an unpaid internship, you can alert HMRC. You can either do this before you begin or once you’ve finished, claiming back the money you’re owed retrospectively.
There are some internships that are not obliged to pay National Minimum Wage but these are made clear on HMRC’s website.
Balancing the Benefits
In notoriously competitive industries like media and the performing arts, unpaid internships, though still illegal, can be hard to turn down. So if you are contemplating a position, ask yourself a few key questions.
Can they be flexible? Internships, by nature, should be looser than fixed term employment so it’s worth asking your company if you can work flexibly. The extra time may allow you to subsidise your internship by working another job on the side.
Will they pay expenses? The Sutton Trust social mobility charity recently calculated the price of doing an unpaid internship as more than £800 a month in Manchester and even more in London, so cutting costs in key. Ask your company if they can cover travel, accommodation or food expenses.
Will it lead to a full-time job? Read the job description thoroughly to check if a permanent position is tenable. Some companies will state the scope for progression but others can be vague. If there is no mention of potential future opportunities, there’s no harm in asking.
Do What’s Best for You
Remember, if a company is not paying you, you have no formal obligation to them. So if you feel you are not gaining the necessary skills, contacts and prospects, you are well within your rights to leave. Alternatively, you can ask to perform more challenging tasks, take on more responsibility or even shadow a more senior figure in the company. If you are not being paid, you have to make the internship work for you.
As Mr Griffiths said, ‘’No one should feel like they have to work for free to get the skills and experience they need to get ahead.’’ If you’re contemplating an unpaid internship, know the facts first.
This article was written by Ed Jones who writes for InspiringInterns.com.
Paid internships with local businesses
The Enterprise & Business Development team at the University of Cumbria are running two business support programmes that are recruiting students to work with local businesses on innovation research projects.
- We are recruiting for short term internships – 20 days (140 hrs) maximum
- You will be paid @ £7.90/hr
The type of project will depend on the individual businesses and will give you the opportunity to focus on a new idea or particular issue that a company has. You will be supported by an academic and someone in the business.
- Get paid for conducting a research based project with business
- Link it to your dissertation
- Apply your learning and demonstrate your creativity
- Gain insights into business challenges and how to respond
- Enhance your business skills working alongside and learning from colleagues in the workplace
- Further develop your employability skills such as communication, team working and organisational skills in the workplace
- Develop your network and get connected by collaborating with local businesses
How to apply
- Opportunities will be advertised on the university careers Jobshop cumbria.prospects.ac.uk and on the UoC Careers web pages here: www.cumbria.ac.uk/study/careers/students/placements/
- You will need to complete a simple Application Form and submit your CV
- Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a short interview
Undergraduate Internship with Modular Build Solutions (MBS) – closes midnight, Monday 15 January 2018. Download the MBS Application Pack which includes advert, job description and application form.
Undergraduate Internship with Twoey Educational Resources – closes midnight, Friday 26 January 2018. Download the Twoey Application Pack which includes advert, job description and application form.
To intern or not to intern? That is the question many soon-to-be or recent graduates keep asking themselves. With repeated media coverage suggesting that internships are exploitive, many may be tempted to skip the temping.
But when done right, internships are a hugely valuable experience for young career starters. Here’s why:
Unless you’re working for a charity or doing a placement year as part of your degree, UK companies must pay interns at least the minimum wage. Ergo, interning through your university holidays will boost your CV and your bank account.
58% of employers say past work experience is the most important thing they look for when hiring graduates. Just 16% cared more about degree grades. Internships are a great way to start learning these key skills in related industries.
Networking is super important for your career – some studies suggest up to 85% of employees are hired through contacts. Internships will introduce you to key people in your chosen industry and give you access to great references, invaluable mentors and helpful informational interviews.
4. Try Before You Buy
Sometimes, working the job you thought you wanted may reveal that it’s not actually right for you. But quitting several permanent roles in a short space of time will make you look like a job hopper – a characteristic 40% of hiring managers mark as the biggest obstacle for job-hunters.
Internships, however, are understood to be temporary placements. That means you can get a feel for whether an industry suits you before having to commit long-term.
5. A Full-Time Job
Graduate jobs are competitive. But almost three-quarters of students with paid internships under their belt receive a job offer before graduation.
Beth Leslie is a career and lifestyle writer. She is also the editor of the Inspiring Interns blog, which gives graduate careers advice to career starters.
The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into, so gaining a little advice from someone who has already managed to do this can prove invaluable.
Sonia Aguado, the editorial copywriter at Urban Outfitters, has worked at several fashion retailers during her career and has given us some helpful tips on how to get your foot in the fashion door.
What is your background? How did you become an editorial copywriter?
After sixth form I went to UCA Epsom to study Fashion Journalism. At the time, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do, but I was interested in fashion and writing, so it was the perfect course for me.
After my first year, and having been exposed to so many areas of the industry I didn’t even know existed, I felt a bit like a lost puppy and didn’t know where my place in the industry would be.
During our second year, we were required to complete an internship – I interned with the press teams at New Look and ASOS and absolutely loved them. I then thought PR was what I wanted to do, but again, this changed.
After graduating, I worked part time at a small PR agency and didn’t enjoy it at all. At this point, one of my uni friends, who was a copywriter at ASOS, asked if I wanted to freelance with their team and I jumped at the chance; this was how I got into the world of copywriting.
How did you find your job?
I got my job by knowing people in the industry and being in the right place at the right time. After I started freelancing at ASOS, another of my uni friends joined the team. She then got a job at Urban Outfitters as a copywriter, and when she was there she brought me in to freelance with them too.
I got to know the team really well and when the other copywriter announced she was leaving, I was put forward for the position. After being there for a few months, I was given the chance to become a junior editorial copywriter, instead of doing product copy, and from there I was promoted to editorial copywriter.
I think the best way to look for jobs in this field is by networking, freelancing, and getting to know people who could then put you forward for any roles that would suit you.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I enjoy the creativity that comes with my role, the people I work with, and working for a company that I loved before I was even a part of it.
What do you least enjoy about your job?
We have deadlines to adhere to, but everything works in a chain reaction, so if one team is running behind with something, it then affects you and your work. Also, getting the dreaded writer’s block!
What takes up most of your time?
Writing copy for the website/the customer newsletter.
Are specific qualifications essential to work in your field? And if so, which ones?
A degree in fashion or writing is helpful, as well as experience in the area.
What skills and qualities are needed to be successful in your field?
Being able to write, attention to detail, proofreading skills, being able to work under pressure, and creativity!
Do you have any advice you could give to an aspiring graduate who is keen to get a foot on the ladder?
Make the most of your contacts and don’t underestimate the relationships you make at uni. The industry is very small and you end up knowing someone wherever you go. My friends at uni are the ones who put me forward for the roles I have had, and a recommendation is always going to be a lot more effective in getting you an interview than a cover letter that gets lost in someone’s inbox. Intern as much as you can and try to get some freelance work to build up your contacts.
Do you have any interview tips for a prospective applicant?
Always research the company. Read their website, their blog, sign up to their newsletter, get to know their tone of voice, and get to know what they’re doing on social media etc. Have examples of your writing available, whether that’s a portfolio, a website or a blog.
If you would like to hear more about the career opportunities at Urban Outfitters, visit their careers page here.
Communications & Marketing Intern
Cumbria Community Foundation is looking for a dynamic and motivated person to help with their communications and marketing needs. The full-time role will be for 12 months based at their office in Dovenby.
The position provides an opportunity to further develop experience in marketing, communications, research and events management as well as gaining experience of social policy, grant making and community philanthropy.
The aim of the role is to provide support to staff members across a range of activities and functions. The position will be packaged as support to a range of projects to ensure effective management of the intern’s time.
The Community Foundation exists to improve the quality of the community life in Cumbria by making grants to voluntary organisations and individuals and managing grant making funds on behalf of individuals, companies and government organisations.
Established in September 1999 the Foundation has given out almost £30 million in grants to more than 4,000 groups and 4,000 individuals.
The Foundation has a strong donor base and is held in high regard by key stakeholders. As an organisation committed to the local community and a track record of delivery they are looking for a key member of the team to contribute to the exciting development of the organisation.
Salary £14,000 – £16,000 per annum
For further information including the job description and application form, visit their website http://www.cumbriafoundation.org/
Closing date 9.00am Monday 16th May 2016
Interview date 24th May
Carlisle Brass is looking for an IT Manager. This role offers the opportunity to travel, locations include Carlisle, Blackburn, Kirkham and Dubai.
To apply send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about Carlisle Brass on their website – http://www.carlislebrass.com
Closing date for applications is 10 May 2016.
Title: IT Manager
Reports to: Head of Finance
Dotted line to: CBG MD / Divisional FD
Sites: Carlisle, Blackburn, Kirkham, Dubai
Salary: £40-45k (37.5 hour week with out of hours and weekend work required occasionally to meet business continuity needs)
Benefits: 3% pension contribution, DIS 2 x’s salary, 23 days holiday
The role arises as a result of the need to strengthen the IT function within the business, in the light of increased growth and technology dependence as well as the increased complexity arising from a proposed ERP replacement in 2017.
The hardware infrastructure for the current systems is largely based at Carlisle, with remote servers at Blackburn and Kirkham.
The parent Group’s IT infrastructure will also continue to evolve towards consolidation and standardisation of solutions for its other UK businesses based in Daventry, and this role holder should therefore expect to collaborate with other parts of the Arran Isle group in achieving realistic synergies. It is likely that this would comprise further virtualisation of storage and servers, as well as a roll out of virtual desktop technology
Deliver an infrastructure which continues to support the growth of the organisation and become knowledgeable about all its aspects to ensure continuous support for the operational hours of the business.
Provide day to day management and leadership of support staff making sure that appropriate skills are in place and effectively deployed in order to meet the function’s responsibilities to its users at all sites.
There will also be scope to provide forward looking guidance and strategy on where the Group can deliver more through IT, as well as responding to and developing ideas arising in the business units.
Carlisle Brass currently operates a range of software applications to control the business, largely based around a bespoke database (Corserine), and developed in .NET from an original Phoenix database. Much of this development has been undertaken in house by the current IT manager. Corserine has in turn has been integrated with Sage 200 to provide the financial reporting and analysis. It is intended that the IT Manager will remain within the business focussed mainly on support of the legacy systems and immediate development requirements of these.
Carlisle Brass is currently planning to replace its existing legacy systems with a fully integrated ERP solution in 2017. It is highly likely this will be based around a MS Dynamics Navision solution already developed for other businesses in the Arran Isle group, and being implemented during 2016.
The successful candidate will play a key role in supporting this project from the early stages through to post completion support.
The business does not currently have Navision experience available, but this will be supported by other sites and experienced third party implementers.
Key responsibilities and Standards of Performance
- Helpdesk resources and performance including reporting and improvement programmes
- Allocation of support resources and software resilience as agreed with business units including up time
- Coordination with external support providers which includes managing their performance and negotiation of contracts to support the operational requirements of the business
- Developing business specific Service Level Agreements (SLA) for each business unit and subsequently ensuring that IT service meets or exceed agreed targets
- Contribute to the development of the IT strategy encompassing hardware, software, security, resources and other aspects that support the achievement of the business plans of each business location
- Project planning and management of infrastructure maintenance and development projects including engagement and management of 3rd party contractors and service providers as and when required
- Creation of Disaster Recovery plans covering all aspects of IT resources and service for each business including periodic testing and subsequent updating. This includes from minor incidents such as theft of mobile phones to larger scale issues such as downtime on main systems
- Managing the hardware estate for the business units including:
- Physical servers, switches, firewalls and other associated hardware at Carlisle and other UK locations
- Local PC’s, photocopiers
- Telecoms: fixed line, broadband, mobile phones & devices, wifi, scanners
- Video conferencing assets
- Development and roll out of IT policies across all locations, periodic maintenance and enforcement
- Overall management of website hosting for all business units including the development and monitoring of service level performance from 3rd party resource providers
- Management of all aspects of IT security for all locations including PCI compliance, hardware and software integrity and resilience
- Contribute to wider company projects that require IT input such as new process planning, new functional specific software such as demand planning or business reporting
- Form part of the wider Group’s IT resource by working collaboratively with other IT professionals in the business and contributing to the IT Board
- Keep up to date with new software and technologies that can make our business better and build competencies within the IT team
Coordinate with Divisional Finance based in Daventry, UK.
Liaise with other IT professionals around the Group
IT of customer/supplier functions around the UK
IT / Business systems
Sage 200 accounting software used for financial reporting
Interfaced with internally developed Corserine / Phoenix operating systems
Local IT hardware infrastructure includes virtualised servers and remote servers at business locations in Kirkham and Blackburn.
Background, education and experience
Extensive 1st/2nd and 3rd Line support for a variety of infrastructure & application environments (pre-dominantly MS focused)
Extensive Design and deployment of Windows/PC based hardware
Management of an IT function within a larger multi-site SME or
Management of teams within an outsourced IT services environment
Good general education with at least strong A level or equivalent education. Degree level education likely. Appropriate technical certifications to demonstrate technical areas of expertise.
- LAN/WAN Network
- MS Server platforms
- Full and Thin client architecture including Citrix
- Hardware performance monitoring and improvement
- Business Continuity, backup & recovery
- Antivirus, Anti-spam & Firewall management
- PCI compliance
- Programming, e.g. Linux, .NET
- Video conferencing (Lifesize)
- Support ERP and Business Intelligence tools
The template for the future ERP system is based around MS Dynamics NAV 16 (Navision) with extensive use of Phocas (BI) and Jet Reports (BI)for much of the reporting requirements. Experience in any of these would be advantageous