Our Approach To Internships

Posted on: 6 February 2017

Before undertaking an internship, many students’ top questions are “Is it worth it?” and “Is it paid?” Interns want to know that their placement will add value to their career prospects. They also want to know that they will gain real insight and skills, especially when internships are often not remunerated. Students do not want to risk placements that could end up being costly and a waste of time.

Due to exploitative, unpaid internships which exacerbate social immobility, MPs are calling on the government to ban unpaid internships and there is a Global Internship Strike planned for February 20th. What does this mean for the charity sector, which struggles with resources and funding?

The reality of the situation is that charities often do not have the funds to pay interns, yet interns can offer much needed extra capacity to organisations. Placements can allow organisations to hand over a piece of work that would otherwise continually dwell at the bottom of the to-do list. Students, keen to gain insight and conscious of the pressure to present experience to prospective employers, often seek out opportunities to work with organisations. Student Hubs’ Social Impact Internship Scheme aims to link up these two groups for the dual benefit of organisations and students.

How do we ensure accessible and valuable internships?

Student Hubs operates a Fair Internship policy, which promotes accessibility of our Scheme and seeks to protect students from exploitative practice.

The Policy states that organisations should pay interns but, where this is not possible, they should be flexible about working hours and reimburse reasonable travel and lunch expenses. Many organisations and companies ask interns to work full time hours for periods of 12 weeks, or longer, with internships often being based in London.  Student Hubs’ Social Impact Internship Scheme offers internships of 6 to 8 weeks, with students working a maximum of 28 hours per week if working voluntarily.

In 2016, one fifth of our host organisations were able to pay their interns.  All organisations covered travel and lunch expenses. Student Hubs continues to work with universities to source funding or bursaries and access to accommodation for students carrying out voluntary internships in the sector.  

We also seek to cater to students who do not wish to be based in London. Our internships are based in six cities – Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, London, Southampton and Winchester. We can offer remote internships, which allow students to work from home and, where possible, we ask host organisations to consider some home working, which can reduce travel costs. 

Based on research carried out through our own Internship Scheme participants, Student Hubs produced a policy report in 2015, ‘Crafting Meaningful Internships in the Social Impact Sector’.  We found that although pay was a top concern for students, the quality of the internship was also a priority.  In response to this, Student Hubs provides recommendations for organisations who want to host interns through our Scheme.  

Student Hubs asks organisations to offer interns structured, challenging work projects over which the intern can feel a sense of ownership. We ensure that the intern will have a line manager supporting their work and development. The organisation should also offer opportunities for the intern to gain insight into the sector.

87% of student participants agree they gained valuable work experience and a useful insight into the social impact sector

81% of student participants agree that they contributed to the creation of social impact

‘The people there were fantastic, I felt very well managed and supported. I also really enjoyed the training sessions before and after the placement.’ – Bristol Student

‘The whole experience has been really engaging, incredibly helpful and inspiring for the future.’ – Florence Best, Cambridge, Cambridge Sustainable Food

While we cannot guarantee a paid placement, we aim to make our Scheme accessible and are continually evaluating and improving this area.  We can, however, deliver on a worthwhile internship and valuable placement.

If you are a student at one of our Hub universities, find out more about the Social Impact Internship Scheme here, then apply via your local Hub site. Applications close on 28th February 2017 and, at Brookes Hub only, on 20th March 2017.

If you are an organisation interested in hosting an intern, find out more here and look out for our live application form soon.

Lydia Hodgins

Lydia is the Placements and Training Manager at Student Hubs, supporting staff to deliver our Internship Scheme across the network. Lydia is also involved with YMCA initiatives, encouraging young people to engage with local and international community programmes.

Tags: Policy, Social Action, Social Impact Careers, Third Sector

One comment on “Our Approach To Internships”

  1. Nspire Recruitment says:

    Thanks, Lydia Hodgins for sharing this post. Student Hub is really doing well.

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