An Inspiring Internship

London under a blanket of snow

On Monday morning, a freezing central London greeted me with a tube strike and thus a 40 minute walk across town to none other than Inspiring Interns, where I began (you guessed it)…an internship!  Whilst this wasn’t my original intention when I applied to Inspiring Interns, it has definitely transpired to be exactly the internship I was looking for.

Having graduated this year and worked for a short while in recruitment, I decided that I wanted to gain experience in marketing and I felt that an internship would be the best way of achieving this.  So having left my job I got in touch with Inspiring Interns, who offered me a number of roles including one with them. Naturally I could only choose one…

So what exactly does being a marketing intern at Inspiring Interns involve?  Basically, anything and everything.  But it has certainly brought to my attention the importance of social media in promoting a company, regardless of the industry.  Seldom do we as a consumer actively investigate new brands the age has dawned where brands must access us.  And where better to access millions of potential customers at a low cost than social media websites.

Did you know that social media has overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the internet? FACT.  Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.  FACT.  1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. met via social media.  BIZARRE.  Thankfully the latter two facts relate less directly to those of us based in the United Kingdom.  However, they do go a long way in highlighting that social media is definitely the way forward in business.

So where does this leave you?  Most probably, Facebook stalking.  But for those of you interested in marketing, PR or any customer facing role, then perhaps it’s time to consider actively building yourself an online professional face.  Not only is it useful for teenagers sharing photos of prematurely drunken experiences, but it is also a good way of building up what could be necessary experience for a future career in a social media orientated role.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog…it’s all relevant.

Ecommerce is the buzz word of the future: so get involved now.  And what better way to begin your career than with an internship?!

A step too far? 18 months unpaid work with the Met

So you want to be a police officer; enforce law, fight crime, and generally look out for the health and safety of your community. But however much your passion to work towards the good of the nation is, would you be prepared to do it for free – for up to 18 months?

Well you might have to, if new recruitment plans proposed by the Metropolitan Police go ahead.

Reports yesterday explained how the procedure – to scrap training schools and make recruits work as unpaid special constables before they join up – could save Scotland Yard millions of pounds, a necessity if the Home Office’s 25% policing cuts are to be met.

The change would mean that two thirds of recruits would have to commit to working 16 hours a month for 18 months as volunteer special constables before they would be considered for permanent full-time employment. The rest would come from the Met’s community support officers or have law and policing qualifications.

Martin Tiplady, the head of the Met’s human resources, described the move to the BBC as the “right way forward”.

He said: “This will deliver savings of between £12,000 and £20,000 per officer in salary costs during their training period. More importantly, our future police officer recruits will hit the ground running with full patrol status at the outset.

“This approach simply allows those considering a career as an officer to sample the job and acquire the right skills.”

With Police forces nationwide having to cut back on recruitment to solve financial problems, the move is hoped to offer an alternative way of getting people back into the forces, whilst also maintaining the high level of policing service which can only be sustained with sufficient manpower.

The scheme, however, has been heavily criticised, with opposition groups claiming that the plan was “fundamentally flawed”, and would lead to the recruitment of only middle-class people who have the time / funds to comply.

Jenny Jones of the Green Party, said. “Many people just won’t be able to afford to become a police officer. It would mean they would have to work part-time for the Met for the first 12 to 18 months. I think this will narrow the field of people who are able to join the force.”

Police unquestionably play an important, vital and often risky role throughout the country. To enforce an 18 month voluntary obligation will undoubtedly frustrate many of those eager to get in and get crime fighting. However, some perspective on the situation needs to be maintained.

Whether this plan gets officially passed or not, those eager crime fighters will still have some time to wait before they are on the streets chasing law breakers. The fact is the government wants the 43 police forces in England and Wales to find total savings of £545m by 2014, meaning that there simply isn’t the money available to recruit people right now. Just earlier this year the Met admitted that they had 2,000 successful applicants waiting to start their jobs – but didn’t have the funds to place them.

So assumedly these people have had to find other jobs to support themselves in the meantime? It may be disappointing to have to work at what was considered a ‘temporary’ role for a bit longer, but the time will fly by – especially with their policing goal to look forward to at the end. Plus, the scheme includes extra official training, and provides the opportunity to really experience what the job entails. This allows candidates to quickly realise if policing is for them, rather than waiting eighteen months and then having to figure out that career plan all over again.

Furthermore, the requirement is 16 hours of voluntary work a month. This equals less than four hours a week. To suggest that people cannot afford to give up four hours a week of their time seems a little far fetched. What’s more, most would undoubtedly really enjoy the change in their schedule – and if they didn’t? Then maybe policing isn’t the job for them after all.

What do you think? Is making new police recruits volunteer for up to 18 months a step too far? Let us know!

Inspiring Interns welcomes push for fair internships

Graduate Talent Pool - help or hindrance?

Graduate Talent Pool - help or hindrance?

On Sunday evening Donal MacIntyre presented an investigation into unpaid internships in the UK on his Radio 5 Live show. The report highlighted the fact that some companies are using the government website Graduate Talent Pool to advertise unpaid internships that potentially break National Minimum Wage laws.

Inspiring Interns shares the concerns raised on the programme and, further, welcomes any move to draw attention to the exploitation of graduates by businesses using unemployed young people as free labour. As a company we go to great lengths to ensure that our placements offer the kind of professional experience that graduates require in today’s oversaturated job market; moreover we only work with clients interested in developing young talent, not taking advantage of it.

The other main issue that the programme raised was how expenses-only internships are deepening the class divide, with only the wealthy able to undertake longer periods of work experience on low remuneration.

Inspiring Interns agree entirely that internships should be open for all, and back the government’s current schemes to support those who might not otherwise be able to afford internships. We were also delighted to hear David Lammy MP announce on Donal MacIntyre’s show that a new initiative will launch in the summer to offer means-tested support for graduates who undertake placements. Inspiring Interns believe that by offering government financial incentives, graduates will be inspired to test the water by gaining valuable experience in their chosen fields. They also have the opportunity to work in areas which they may not have previously considered. By participating in short term internships in a variety of industries or sectors graduates can make a more informed choice when planning their career path.

Inspiring Interns would also like to express support for businesses offering genuine internships, and urge the government to avoid over-the-top intervention that could damage a very beneficial system. There must be official recognition that in the current economic climate some companies simply cannot afford to pay interns and do not have long term openings. However, by offering a placement they do provide essential experience for graduates and potentially create permanent jobs; either when the market picks up or, more exceptionally, where the intern performs so well that the company perceives there to be a business case with low risk to take the intern on full time.

Banning unpaid internships would do more damage than good, both to young people and to the economy. Therefore the government needs to clarify legislation on internships, and follow the recommendations outlined in Alan Milburn’s report on social mobility. For as Mr. Milburn argues, “Internships are an essential part of the career ladder [and] part and parcel of a modern, flexible economy.”  At Inspiring Interns we aim to provide a valuable service both to graduates entering the job market for the first time and to industry. We provide choice, experience and hopefully long term career paths for our interns, whilst at the same time offering a commercial, low cost low risk business solution for.

Slave labour graduates? Try ambitious young professionals

On the 04/02/2010 the Daily Mail ran an article entitled ‘The slave labour graduates: Cynical firms are forcing thousands of high flyers to work for nothing – or even making them pay for the privilege’. In his report Tom Rawstorne suggested that the ‘cream of a generation’ were being taken for a ride by the system of internships that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our job market.

Inspiring Interns were left rather bemused by the entirely negative picture the Mail painted. Sadly there are companies willing to take advantage of unemployed graduates – with the media sector particularly guilty – but by and large the rise in internships has been a very positive development for both businesses and job seekers.

At Inspiring Interns we rigorously check our clients before we send them candidates to ensure the placement will benefit the graduate and that the company is not using interns as a rolling staff solution.

This means that, having been trading for just over a year, we now have a plethora of grateful graduates who are now in paid employment as a result of having done an Inspiring Interns internship.

Ben Tatton-Brown, CEO of Ring Ring Mobile, has hired eight interns from Inspiring, all of whom have secured permanent positions as a direct result of doing a placement. Tatton-Brown commented: “Inspiring Interns’ service has been invaluable to our company. We have found eight superb staff members that have developed and grown within their roles, and who would not have become part of this company had they not initially completed internships.”

Inspiring Interns are always thrilled to hear when our work has helped candidates gain invaluable experience, particularly when they have gone on to secure full-time positions. We believe it is this mix of developing skills and creating careers that make our company such an attractive proposition to graduates.

Inspiring Interns – specialising in finding meaningful internships for students and graduates –http://www.inspiringinterns.com

Exciting Internship Funding News

Earn money while you intern

Earn money while you intern

Back in December we reported that the Government was planning to provide £8 million of funding to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who would have otherwise been unable to undertake unpaid internships.

We are pleased to say that this scheme now encompasses any graduate from a participating university who is looking for an internship. If your old uni is taking part you could be entitled to around £6 an hour while you complete a placement.

Working in tandem with the government’s priority areas for future industries, the scheme is particularly keen to provide grants to graduates working in one of the following seven sectors:

  • low-carbon products and services
  • digital industry
  • life sciences and pharmaceuticals
  • advanced manufacturing
  • professional and financial services
  • engineering construction
  • industrial opportunities presented by the ageing society.

Alongside the obvious financial benefits this scheme offers, graduates will also get structured support before, during and after their placement – including mentoring, pre-employment and interview training, and CV workshops.

This is a wonderful opportunity for graduates to gain fantastic experience for their CV without having to make major fiscal sacrifices. And of course Inspiring Interns can help you on the way to finding that dream placement – so why not get in touch?

Inspiring Interns – specialising in finding meaningful internships for students and graduates –http://www.inspiringinterns.com

Inspiring Interns resolves to find your dream job

So, it’s a bonafide brand new decade and the team at Inspiring Interns wishes you a happy New Year. Around the office people are striving to make 2010 their year, whether by giving up smoking (again), actually using that extortionate gym membership purchased last January, or simply thinking less and doing more.

Experts say the best way to achieve your new year’s resolution is to keep goals realistic and set measurable steps. If your resolution is to land your dream job you are unlikely to have one fall into your lap. An internship is the go-to route for most students and graduates to get ahead of the pack so here is our 5 point plan to help you on your way:

  1. Make sure you and your CV are presented in the best way possible. Many candidates, especially those with very little work experience, miss out on jobs because of poor CVs. A main bug bear of recruiters are spelling and grammar mistakes so triple check this or it will go straight in the bin. Don’t sell yourself short either; bartending and supermarket work teaches great customer service skills but back this up with examples. Make sure your online persona is professional – it’s a good idea to ask yourself, “would I mind my mum seeing this?” before you put anything on the world wide web.
  2. Keep up to date with world and industry news. Knowledge is power so read influential books such as Freakanomics, Socialnomics or Ogilvy on Advertising. Read newspapers and blogs daily and you’ll soon know who’s doing what to whom and how often! If you follow through with this you’ll reduce those ‘nod and smile’ moments significantly as well as have a starting point for the next step.
  3. Actively seek out opportunities. Find three companies each week that you would like to work for and email their HR department to see if any internships are available. Check university job boards for new postings regularly. Of course, signing up to Inspiring Interns makes it easier by doing the leg work for you. It is a sure fire way to find opportunities a-go-go (check out our current vacancies here)!
  4. Do something interesting. All work and no play makes you mind numbingly dull. Yes, you’re intelligent but so are other interns who want it just as much as you. Don’t forget that a lot comes down to how you’ll gel with the existing team. Make sure you seek out the extraordinary, socially and professionally, to give yourself an edge. For example, during the recession an ‘underground dining’ movement has really gained momentum. This point is particularly important for students who want to go into a planning role as you are expected to stay ahead of the game.
  5. Don’t give up. Even though you may get what seems like endless rejections that slowly destroy your soul one ‘no’ at a time, have faith that at some point someone will say ‘yes’. Take knock backs graciously; you never know who you may end up working with in the future. Every rejection is an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t and most companies are very happy to provide feedback. As a former boss of mine once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, get a manicure, and try again!”

Interns to receive government funding

Yesterday Alistair Darling presented the pre-budget report to the country. The furor over the proposed bankers’ bonus tax and the rise in National Insurance has eclipsed one of the positive elements to the plans. Darling said he wanted to, “break down informal barriers which close off some careers to undergraduates from poorer backgrounds,” by offering students from disadvantaged backgrounds financial support for internships.

The plan is a reaction to former minister Alan Milburn’s July report that slammed internships as, “becoming a back-door for better-off, better-connected youngsters.” While some internships are obtained from the proverbial, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” approach, many are obtained through hard work and endless applications. Of course, many are also obtained through fantastic companies like Inspiring Interns!

However, whatever the method, it is unfortunate that some graduates (and their parents) simply cannot afford an internship as, though many companies pay expenses, they do not pay rent, food or gas bills. Regardless of personal politics, here at Inspiring Interns we applaud this proposal and hope that all political parties will consider implementing it in the future.

Inspiring Interns welcomes graduates from all backgrounds and nationalities and the £8m scheme is planned to be ready for summer 2010. Whatever your past, let Inspiring Interns help you on your way to a brighter future by sending your CV to cv@inspiringinterns.com.

Inspiring Interns- specializing in internships and work experience in London – visit http://www.inspiringinterns.com/

Internship / Graduate Scheme Interview Advice

There’s more to life than clothes, but it’s a good place to start…

What to wear to an interview is a potential minefield. Though recruiters should be judging students on their sparkling CVs, not their dress sense, reports state that a staggering 37% of employers have decided against hiring a graduate due to the way they were dressed. Even something as minor as a girl not wearing tights or a guy not wearing a tie can impact on your success.

To suit or not to suit? For most jobs it’s fairly safe to assume suiting up is the way to go (law, finance, management, etc). However, in notoriously image conscious industries such as fashion, advertising, marketing and PR things are not so clear cut.

Tips:

  • Research the agency. If it’s a long established place like JWT or Weber Shandwick, chances are they’re going to approve of the smarter side of dressing with a hint of personality (e.g. colour, statement jewelry, and other interesting accessories). If it’s a younger agency, like VCCP or Mischief it’s better to go with something more casual, yet still professional (e.g. smart jeans but no low cut tops or scruffy t-shirts).
  • Do not go overboard on accessories. Keep it to one interesting piece.
  • There’s usually a recruitment video by current grads. Check to see what they’re wearing in the video and dress similarly.
  • Receptionists know everything. Call the front desk and ask for some inside info. They’re generally very helpful to graduates looking for internships or work experience.
  • Never wear a suit to UK ad agency Mother or you will be called an idiot…or worse (see clip ‘my first day at mother’).
  • If going for a fashion placement then make sure you show your personal style but try and make it fit to the design aesthetic of the company you’re applying to.
  • Before entering the interview for your dream work experience, pop into a local café and check your appearance in the mirror. Check there’s nothing on / in your teeth; clothes are straight; make-up isn’t smudged; and hair is brushed to avoid embarrassment.
  • Carry gum or mints with you for fresh breath – no one wants to know you had the tuna for lunch – but make sure you remove gum before going in.

Top tips for girls:

  • Wear heels but ones you can walk in. 69% of recruiters said girls in heels made a positive impression. From personal experience, if shoes are too high you look like a bit of a numpty tottering along the halls so safe options are wedges or boots.
  • Keep make up understated. You’re going for an interview, not a photo shoot.
  • Do the ‘sitting down test’. You’ll be seated for most of the time so make sure your skirt doesn’t ride up or that trousers are not too constricting.

Top tips for boys:

  • Make sure your shoes are polished and nails are tidy. Attention to small details will show that you care.
  • Take a woman shopping with you. We have an instinct for these things and will stroke your ego.
  • Invest in high quality garments. Worth it in the long run and you can always guilt your mum into paying.

Most importantly – be comfortable. If you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing and feel like you look good then you will naturally exude more confidence and confidence is the foundation of a good interview. If you’re still worried about your outfit then don’t hesitate to come into our London office where we can turn you from slobby student to impressive intern and find you the perfect placement!

Inspiring Interns- specializing in internships and work experience in London - visit http://www.inspiringinterns.com/