Guest Blog – The benefits of a paid graduate internship

Today we have a guest blog from Step. The Step team connect enterprising students and recent graduates with smaller, growth-focused businesses through a portfolio of student placements, graduate internships and permanent positions.

There are a range of paid opportunities for students and graduates on their website.


The benefits of a paid graduate internship

Internships are often an afterthought in the graduate and student world. Second fiddle to the sandwich placement or graduate scheme, but they are no booby-prize, in fact they offer many distinct advantages over a longer-term role.


Here are some reasons why a paid internship could offer you the golden ticket:

Trial a role/company

An internship is perfect for the student or graduate who isn’t sure what direction they want to take their career. Maybe you’re a recent marketing graduate, but you aren’t sure whether you want to work for an agency or go in-house with a leading business. Perhaps you’re an engineering student with the gift of the gab and are toying with the idea of engineering sales. A lot of graduates and students find their long-term career through an internship but even If you discover that your internship isn’t for you, you can still leave at the end with a great reference and experience gained without anything lost for you or the business.


Foot in the door

While graduate schemes are often ultra-competitive, comprising many stages of interviews, assessment days, psychometric tests and more, an internship offers a far easier entry route. Often requiring less experience and a more simple one stage recruitment phase, internships can offer you the same foot in the door that a graduate scheme would. Many internships lead onto a full-time position – in fact over 80% of Step graduate internships turn into permanent roles!


Develop your skills / experience

Internships can offer you the route to gaining the vital work experience and skills that may be the missing piece, preventing you from landing your dream permanent role. An internship is your opportunity to develop your employability skills and gain valuable experiences that give you real world examples for competency-based questions at future interviews.


Building contacts

An internship can offer you an invaluable way to build up contacts that may point you in the right direction of an opportunity you might not otherwise have come across. Make it part of your internship to network with as many people as possible both in and out of your host company, as this could open up endless possibilities. You may make current industry contacts who could offer you a permanent job, recommend you to their best friend who just happens to be MD at a similar company, point you in the right direction moving forward, or at the very least they might check your CV is the best it can be for the sector.


One of the most important things you need to ensure, before embarking on your internship, is that you will be PAID. While unpaid internships do exist, we believe they are wrong for a variety of reasons. They hinder social mobility, they may be illegal and ultimately you should be paid for the valuable work that you contribute, just as any other worker would. All Step internships are paid, but if you do decide to source your own internship, make sure you are compensated (at least at the national minimum/living wage) for your work.

Find out more about Step and the paid opportunities available to you here.

Summer Career Fix: Do some Volunteering

What are you doing this summer to help you stand out from the crowd? 

Gary’s bags are packed and he’s ready to jet off to places far sunnier than Cumbria. But he’s not off for a lazy beach holiday – he’s going to be doing one small thing each week that will help in his future career. He doesn’t know what that career is just yet, but that’s ok – most of these things can be done even if you aren’t 100% sure what you want to do. And if you need some help finding your path, you can always email the Careers & Employability service for some advice and guidance:

So what’s Gary doing this week?

He’s finding out about volunteering opportunities!

Volunteering is a great way to gain really useful work experience and skills, try something new or different, and do something worthwhile and rewarding. Furthermore, it will give your future job applications a competitive edge, as it will enable you in job applications or interviews to draw on real life practical examples. For example, employers often want to know what experience you’ve had of working in a team, communicating with a range of different people, or problem solving. So volunteering helps you build up a useful skills bank.

If you are not sure what to do, consider something new to see if you like it. Lots of volunteering roles offer a trial session, so you can get a feel for whether you would like to become more involved.

Volunteering is also useful for getting an inside view on what the workplace is like and seeing what other people in other roles do. Importantly too, it develops your network. You’ll meet other volunteers and make contacts which could lead to other things.

There are lots of different ways you can volunteer. These are just a few ideas to get started.

University of Cumbria Student Union (UCSU)

UCSU have dozens of different volunteering opportunities, and also help students to facilitate their own volunteering experiences – so if there’s something you want to do, let them know and they’ll help you make the most of it. Maybe you’d like to apply the learning from your course, develop your skills, help people in the local community or just try something completely new. Visit to register and create your volunteering profile or email for more information. UCSU runs volunteering information events too.

Other UK wide options you could explore are:

Do-it makes it easy for anyone to volunteer in their community and lists hundreds of opportunities throughout the country.

vInspired is a youth volunteering charity which connects young people with volunteering opportunities.  Use their search tool to find placements to help make a difference.

GoodGym combines physical tasks that benefit the community and keeps you fit at the same time! You can join a group run to work on a community project, do one off missions to help vulnerable people, or commit to visit an isolated older person every week.

Environmentjob  lists conservation and wildlife opportunities throughout the UK and overseas options too.

If you are interested in bird life, the RSPB welcomes volunteers from bird identifiers to graphic designers.

The homelessness charity Crisis helps deliver services, campaigns, fundraising, administrative and IT support and always needs volunteers.

The Red Cross has lots of opportunities too from working in a charity shop to fundraising and it doesn’t matter how much time you can give.

Cancer Research UK recruits event, media and office volunteers.


Volunteering abroad

For a summer volunteering placement, the International Citizen Service programme is worth considering. It’s funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and runs 12 week volunteering placements in over 20 countries. The programmes are aimed at 18-25 year olds.

VSO provides volunteering placements overseas, mainly in developing countries, but you can support them in the UK too by volunteering at fund-raising and community events.


What are your rights as a volunteer?

As a volunteer, you don’t have the same rights as an employee, and you won’t receive a contract of employment, but you will usually be given a volunteer agreement that explains what training you’ll get, the level of supervision and support you can expect to receive and whether you’re covered under the organisation’s employer or public liability insurance. Health and safety issues should be covered too.

You aren’t paid for your time as a volunteer, but you may get money to cover expenses. This is usually limited to food, drink, travel or any equipment you need to buy.

GOV.UK has a section on volunteering which includes information about your rights as a volunteer.


Come back next week for another #SummerCareerFix 

Support is available from your Careers and Employability Service with career planning, CVs and applications, interview skills, practice interviews and more. Contact with your careers queries.



Friday Featured Opportunity – MI5 Intelligence Officer Development Programme


No one ever got lost in the world of accountants.

As we grow up, fewer and fewer of us actually get the jobs we first dream of having. It’s why graduates across the country apply for development programmes to become management consultants, accountants and recruitment specialists. But what if you aspired for something more exciting, rewarding and impactful – like preventing acts of terrorism? Well, our Intelligence Officers do just that, playing a vital role in running MI5 investigations that help keep the country safe against threats to national security.

The Intelligence Officer Development Programme (IODP) is designed to help you learn about MI5 investigations before you lead them. And you’ll get the ultimate insight into international events and help change them for the better. It’s why we choose people carefully. As an essential part of a closely-knit team, you’ll enjoy a great mix of challenge and support and where business requirements allow, a flexible approach to working that gives you exactly the work-life balance you would hope for.


The Development Programme
For the first two years, you’ll be assigned to a role that will help you develop skills directly relevant to leading investigations. It could be anything from digital intelligence and analysis, to warrantry and legal casework. This will be structured as either two postings of one year each, or one posting over two years.


The Foundation Investigative Training course
Subject to successful completion of performance reviews, you’ll advance onto our Foundation Investigative Training (FIT) course. Lasting five weeks, it will prepare you for a direct move into one of our investigative sections as an Intelligence Officer. Upon successful completion, and subject to line management approval, you’ll also be eligible to apply for an advancement interview for promotion.


The future
As a fully trained Intelligence Officer, your first role could be countering threats from international terrorism, espionage or Northern Ireland related terrorism. As your confidence and experience grow, so will your responsibilities. From then on you may choose to specialise in investigations, where you’ll pull together intelligence, working with different departments to gain resources. You’ll also set investigative strategies, making recommendations based on perceived threat levels, collaborating with colleagues and the police to thwart terrorist activity where needed. Alternatively, you could move into roles managing or training new IODP entrants, or broaden your experience by taking on an operational or policy role.


Working culture and hours
By being part of MI5, you’ll benefit from the close support of your team, together with increasing autonomy to progress investigations yourself. While the role does have a big impact on the security of the nation, a formal structure is in place to ensure that every employee feels supported in their decision making.

There’s also a strong focus on work-life balance. Where business requirements allow it, flexi-time enables you to vary your start and finish times to fit the other commitments in your life.


What we look for
Safeguarding the UK against threats to national security requires intelligent, talented people, and those people aren’t found in any one particular section of society. Graduates from a range of backgrounds and degree disciplines join the Intelligence Officer Development Programme.

As a confident communicator, you can quickly establish productive working relationships with your colleagues. You’ll need to be organised, have a good eye for detail and trust your own judgement. While happy to take responsibility for your own areas of work, you’ll also enjoy collaborating to solve problems and make decisions. MI5 also expects its employees to have a high degree of honesty and integrity.


To apply to MI5 you must be a born or naturalised British citizen, over 18 years of age and normally have lived in the UK for nine of the last ten years. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, providing that they are British. They should also be made aware of the importance of discretion.


Find out more here.

Friday Featured Opportunity – Band 5 Nurses at Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust

Vacancies with Randstad Care


We have around 150 shifts per week available for newly qualified nurses.


Ward specialisms include:

Acute medical, cardiology, gastroenterology, respiratory, elderly medical, coronary care, gynaecology, surgical, medicine, oncology, orthopaedics, stroke, colorectal and many others.


Benefits include: 

– Opportunity to gain experience working in a range of specialisms

​- Excellent pay rates (£1​8​ph for days, up to £28 for weekends)

– Completely flexible hours (part time or full time hours, range of 8 and 12 hr shifts, days nights and weekends)


For more information contact Amie Grattan on 0191 233 1381 or email

Why that Graduation #Selfie may not be a good idea

It’s Graduation week here at the University of Cumbria and we’d like to take a moment to congratulate everyone graduating this week – Well Done!

We know you will want to shout your achievements from the rooftops – and you should! You’ve achieved so much in your time at University, and you’ve received your reward – your degree certificate.

But stop before you snap a photo of it and upload it to Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook.

Why? Because there is evidence that fraudsters are using social media to copy students’ degree certificates and then use them for illegal purposes.

Sellers of fake degree certificates browse the internet to find the latest designs, logos, crests, signatories, stamps, holograms and wording. They can then be easily copied from shared photos on to fake certificates and passed off as genuine to unwitting employers.

Remember that degree certificates are legal documents – just like driving licences and birth certificates. The best way to protect yourself from certificate misuse and degree fraud is to not post photos on to social media.

If you would like any additional information or would like to report a bogus institution there’s now a degree fraud line on 0845 077 1968.

Remember that the Careers & Employability Service are here for you even after you graduate – for up to 3 years. Contact us by email to arrange a chat.

Summer Career Fix: Update your LinkedIn profile

What are you doing this summer to help you stand out from the crowd? 

Gary’s bags are packed and he’s ready to jet off to places far sunnier than Cumbria. But he’s not off for a lazy beach holiday – he’s going to be doing one small thing each week that will help in his future career. He doesn’t know what that career is just yet, but that’s ok – most of these things can be done even if you aren’t 100% sure what you want to do. And if you need some help finding your path, you can always email the Careers & Employability service for some advice and guidance:

So what’s Gary doing this week?

This week, Gary’s updating his LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a great social media platform to manage your network and can help you find a job. It’s sometimes described as a more professional version of Facebook.

Keeping you LinkedIn profile updated is recomended as it acts as an ‘online CV’ – recruiters will often check out applicants’ profiles, and if they see lots of activity on your feed, it demonstrates that you are keeping up to date with the sector, and that you are actively promoting yourself and your skills.

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, we have a handy guide specifically for students: Building a Student Profile on Linkedin (PDF). If you need any help with LinkedIn, you can always email us for help, too.

Come back next week for another #SummerCareerFix 

Support is available from your Careers and Employability Service with career planning, CVs and applications, interview skills, practice interviews and more. Contact with your careers queries.


Friday Featured Opportunity – Cubo Talent Days

Cubo is an integrated creative agency with fifty plus marketing specialists, collaborating to produce creative solutions under one central London roof.

For over twenty years, Cubo has been finding creative solutions to their clients’ marketing challenges. Whether they’re supporting iconic luxury spirits around the world or helping universities thrive in an increasingly marketised environment, their passion and drive produces great ideas that both capture the imagination and deliver fantastic results.

Cubo is offering paid internships in design, account management and strategy and planning. The recruitment for these are through Talent Days.

Their design talent day was yesterday but there are still two more days coming up in August.

Find out more here –