Tag Archives: internships

Unpaid Internships – Know the Facts

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.


5 Benefits an Internship Will Give You


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:

1. Money

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.

2. Experience

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.

3. Contacts

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.

Friday’s Featured Vacancy: Digital Marketing Assistant


Digital Marketing Assistant

Newcastle  |  Internship

Salary: £240.50 per week based on 37 hours; perm salary TBC if successful

Ref: 6084


Welcome to the wonderful world of craft, design, and cake decorations! This is a global business with a local team, based in their head office in the North East. They are looking for a creative and enthusiastic marketing assistant to join their team and help them launch a whole new digital presence.

Company background

This UK based company designs and manufactures imaginative cake decorating and craft products which are sold to retail and directly to customers worldwide. They are based in South Shields with 10 staff covering Customer Service, Production, R&D, Design and Creative and Dispatch.
The company was established in 2004 and was firmly established in the paper craft market, and has since diversified and expanded into other crafts and cake decorating with future plans for more diversification. It is an exciting and fast paced company in which to work and learn.

The Role

Operating from their Head office, the successful candidate will work closely with the Managing Director to learn and develop the company marketing principles and apply their knowledge and skills to support the growth of the business. They are looking for an enthusiastic graduate with an interest in digital marketing, as a major focus for the business is driving sales through the website and online channels. They hope that this role will help to raise the profile of the company within the industry, drive sales, and create a reputation on social media for creativity and inspiration.

Duties will include:
• Co-ordination of tasks in the development of a brand new high quality e-commerce website
• Updating and maintaining website content and imagery
• Maintaining and grow social following using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites
• Produce engaging content for social sharing (including imagery, posts and videos)
• Create, develop and promote a blog / vlog
• Develop PR content to share with consumer and trade publications
• Co-ordinate and monitor a proactive email marketing campaign to promote new products, TV shows and special promotions
• Liaise with event organisers to organise attendance at exhibitions
• Knowledge of SEO principles and PPC
• Input into monthly reports where applicable

Development Focus

This will initially be a 12 week internship with a review towards week 12, whereby there will be the opportunity of a permanent role. The successful candidate will gain experience in project planning, adapting to meet the needs of a small dynamic business and its subsidiary USA company, and enhancing and developing skills in marketing, particularly in digital channels. You will get support and training, both in house and through third party courses, and the opportunity to get involved in R&D and commercialisation of new products. In addition, you will also have the opportunity to work on large scale exhibitions, and potentially travel to their American office as well.

Skills required

This role would be suitable for a graduate from a Marketing discipline, who can particularly demonstrate experience or an interest in developing digital marketing plans.

Candidates applying for this role should have:
• Enthusiasm and drive
• Ability to work dynamically in a fast paced environment
• Interest and ability in digital marketing
• Strong organisations skills and work ethic
• Ability to communicate effectively
• A strong desire to learn with a proactive approach to attending training courses, webinar, etc
• Attention to detail

Closing date: 14th August 2015

* * Please note that the deadlines used on our job adverts are for guidance only. We advise all interested parties to apply as soon as possible since many of the companies we work with are seeking a swift solution for their internship/job. We reserve the right to close advertisements prior to the stated deadline. * *

Apply online with recruiting agency Step via: http://www.step.org.uk/job/6084/digital-marketing-assistant-newcastle/

step logo

Friday’s Featured Vacancy – 26/09/2014


It’s getting pretty busy here at UoC now! Next week, as well as the part-time jobs fairs (see here for more info), we will also have Enterprise rent-a-car coming to the Lancaster campus. This is a great opportunity to have a chat with Enterprise about their intern and graduate schemes. Come along to the Gateway building in Lancaster on Tuesday 20 September from 12.00 noon until 2.00 pm to find out more about this worldwide organisation.


Graduate Management Trainee – Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Join the Enterprise management training programme and following an initial classroom-based orientation session, you’ll be based in one of our branches, learning all the business skills you need to manage it yourself.

You’ll join us as a management trainee and develop skills in all areas, from sales and marketing to customer service and finance. So it really is a general management scheme.

Career progression

You’ll start off as a management trainee and in as little as eight to twelve months, you could move up to a management assistant. From there, in your next year, you’ll continue your training and you could become an assistant manager. That’s when you’ll receive a percentage of the profits generated by your branch, which means your earnings will be directly related to your performance.

Throughout our graduate programme, there’s a series of tests and evaluations, after which you’ll receive pay increases, rewards, and more opportunities for promotion. You’ll almost certainly be a branch manager within just two years of starting, and after all that it’s up to you how fast you move – there’s area manager, group rental manager, general manager and then you might take over the world! Well, we are a global company after all.

You can visit the website to find out more: https://www.careers.enterprise.co.uk/

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* Friday’s Featured Vacancy is a new weekly series where we highlight current vacancies and opportunities from the University of Cumbria’s JobShop – register your details to receive all the latest vacancies, tailored to you.

Are Unpaid Internships Illegal?

Recent discussion on the subject of unpaid internships suggests that there may be a legal basis for insisting that employers offering internships must also offer the national minimum wage.

In particular, Business Link offer the following guideline to employers on their website:

“If you or your organisation offer work experience, including ‘placements’ and internships, you need to consider whether the individual who will work for you is entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW). It is your responsibility to determine whether or not the individual is a worker for NMW purposes and, if they are, whether an exemption applies to them. Failure to pay the NMW to someone who is entitled to it is against the law. If an unpaid individual claims that they are owed arrears of the NMW, the onus is on you to prove that they are not a worker or that no arrears are owed. An individual’s entitlement to the NMW does not depend on their job title but on the contractual relationship with their employer.”

This may not be welcome news for employers, some of whom may wish to retreat from offering internships as a result. But from a student and graduate point of view, it clearly offers a strong negotiation position for those considering the offer of an internship.

If you want more details, follow the further links from the relevant page on the Business Link website.