Government intern scheme plan to support graduate prospects

The Government has announced plans to support graduates by working with businesses to provide short-term paid internships.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Universities Secretary, John Denham, argued that the aim of the proposed National Internship Scheme would be to make graduates “more employable.”

He continued, “The graduate situation is not as bad as some people say, but it is challenging.”

However, there is criticism from the Conservatives who say that the Government’s plan does not go far enough.

Shadow Universities Secretary, David Willetts, announced alternative plans to help graduates find appropriate employment. “All the evidence is that university graduates are finding it much tougher getting a job than for over a decade,” he told the Guardian.

The Conservative plans would include a new apprenticeship database and careers service designed to aid social mobility.

As reported in last week’s Boar (“Employers Cut Graduate Placements,” Issue 2), internships are no longer as secure a guarantee of post-graduation employment as they once were. This was reflected in the Boar’s discussions with employers at an internship fair on campus last Thursday.

Several recruiters stated they were taking on fewer student interns, and that competition for places was becoming more intense. However, according to Joe Ward of Cancer Research UK, internships “will be a necessity” for getting a job in the current economic climate.

Thursday’s fair featured over 30 companies and organizations, primarily from the business, financial, and technology sectors. Interviews with company representatives present at the fair indicated the importance of work experience when seeking a job after graduation.

Kieron Clement-Smith, a recent graduate working for accountancy firm Grant-Thornton, says “it definitely helped me get a job at the end because I went on the internship—and you miss out on a round of interviews. It’s a good experience, too; it tells you if it’s something you really want to be doing.”

He also said it helped take some of the stress off his final year, knowing he had a guaranteed job at the end of his degree.

Students seeking summer internships should be able to market their skills effectively to potential employers. Daniel Gordon, of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), says students should have good communication skills, be adaptable, and participate in extracurricular activities while at university, sentiments echoed by other employers interviewed at the fair.

“We’re looking for someone who can demonstrate good self-motivation, commitment—and experience volunteering or in the charity sector would stand you in good stead,” says Ward.

Richard Brown of Intel says students should do “anything proactive to make them stand out from the rest.”

Shyamal Jani, a 2007 Warwick economics graduate working for financial services group Nomura, agrees. “I think you should be an all-rounder,” he says.

“Again, it’s about differentiating yourself on the application form. If you say you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, not many people have. That’s something that you have done specific to yourself. A real interest in the industry you want to go into” is also essential to getting a position.

Another careers fair will take place on campus on 27 January, featuring, amongst others, employers from the public sector and charity organizations.


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