To intern or not to intern

Following our article on the graduate talent pool earlier this week, Sulove Bothra, founder and CEO of www.internStar.com responds to comments from entrepreners that unpaid internships are unfair and antiquated.

Sure Harrison, founder of Studentgems.com told Real Business: “Graduates are facing sky-rocketing levels of debt and deserve to be paid for what they contribute. Too many businesses have a cheapskate attitude to taking on students and graduates and seem to think they are doing them a favour by giving them work experience and that should be enough. It isn’t. Get real, get a good graduate and get your business moving with motivated, talented new people.”

Bothra disagrees. “Internships allow businesses to mitigate risk by trying out a candidate first, offering a better alternative to direct recruitment,” he says.

“The main reason why so many SMEs are not tapping into the fresh talent many graduates have to offer is the amount of time and effort involved in finding the right candidate. InternStar acts as a quality matching service for both sides, and takes away the headache of searching from scratch.”

Bothra further advocates unpaid internships alongside paid-for roles. “For most interns, considerations such as a competitive salary and perks are mostly secondary to their implicit desire to learn and gain valuable experience that will put them ahead in today’s job market,” he says.

“Small and medium-sized businesses not only offer more rounded and real-life work experience for highly skilled professions, but potentially have the most to gain from fresh and talented individuals.”

Stephan Gagnon, co-founder of Stargate Capital, an emerging markets investment house, has been working with post-graduate interns over the last six months and feels that the benefits far outweigh the time spent training an intern.

“Internships for me traditionally conjure up images of bored teenagers making tea, which is probably why I had never taken the process that seriously,” he admits. “But speaking to graduates and even young professionals who clearly have done their homework and know what they want to achieve out of an internship, you realise how keen they are to get a foot in the door and learn the basics.”

“Different businesses will have different needs,” he continues. “For me it was vital that the candidates were of a high calibre with real aspirations. InternStar works at this level, so one of my interns actually had previous financial services experience in the States and just wanted to move into something more specific in the UK.

“A permanent role has just been offered to the intern in question and accepted, so of course I’m delighted with the outcome,” he concludes.

Across the pond, internships are an increasingly popular way of “landing that job,” with employers extending offers to 73 per cent of past interns. So is there a future for a similar system to really work in the UK?

Bothra is convinced. “Over the last few decades, Britain has transitioned into being a service economy, and the eroded apprenticeship model has to be refined to suit the needs of businesses today,” he says. “Candidates today constantly have to keep current with the latest skills and work experience to remain competitive against a global workforce.

“Current tough job market conditions now mean more competition for Britain’s graduates, and relevant work experience helps people to get a firm footing on the career ladder. Present government initiatives have confirmed that internships are valuable, and private companies like InternStar will help support smaller businesses by finding them the right intern.”

For more information visit www.internstar.com

Related articlesWill entrepreneurs snap up the new crop of graduates? Internships afford a win-win situation

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