A study by Lloyds Banking Group has suggested that modern day interns may no longer be content to carry out menial tasks all day, every day.
The traditional image of the intern may be a fresh-faced young person who uncomplainingly spends each day making tea for colleagues, buying their lunches, photocopying, filing or stuffing envelopes. And even in the 21st century, the stereotype may still be very accurate, as 53% of respondents to the survey said they spent the majority of their internship printing and photocopying documents. One third said they spent a lot of time fetching food and drink for colleagues.
Only half of those surveyed said that they believed that the company considered their skill set when giving them tasks to carry out. Only 32% said that they believed taking an internship boosted their employment prospects.
David Rowsell, head of education and employability programmes for Lloyds Banking Group said:
“This research highlights how important it is to tailor internships to meet young people’s needs so they can use the experience to strengthen their skills, abilities and ultimately boost their employability.”
Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, chose to highlight the benefits of internships, by commenting:
“Quality internships can be very beneficial to career development, offering young people to the opportunity to see for themselves what the workplace is like and test their interests in new areas.”
With around 70,000 internships on offer in the UK each year, Sarah Hathaway, chief membership officer at the Association of Graduate Recruiters, called on companies to make it clear at the outset what an internship will involve, and echoed calls for placements to allow young people to demonstrate what they are capable of. Ms Hathaway commented:
“Best practice means giving an intern every opportunity to demonstrate what skills and experience they have. This can be applied at every stage of the process, from being clear about the nature of the role at the outset, to running a formal recruitment process and induction, ensuring a good management process is in place throughout that period of time and having regular meetings and checking performance.”