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The UK economy has been on shaky ground in recent years and as a result the graduate job market is more competitive than ever.

Inspiring Interns offers new graduates a way to gain valuable work experience with the very real prospect of a job at the end.

As the economy develops experience in the digital sector is seen as increasingly important, so Econsultancy has partnered with Inspiring Interns to offer a new Graduate Bootcamp.

The week-long programme aims to deliver core digital skills and practical application alongside employability training and career coaching.

Programme graduates will be offered the opportunity to take a three-month internship in a digitally focused role to put their newly acquired digital knowledge into practice.

To find out more about the Bootcamp and why digital skills are important for graduates, I spoke to Inspiring Interns CEO Ben Rosen.

Why is digital training important for graduates?

Being well-versed in various aspects of digital is an important skill for any graduate, regardless of whether they want to work in the industry or in an entirely different sector.

Digital pervades a huge range of business practices, so a fundamental understanding of how it works will stand you in very good stead for a large array of positions. Employers increasingly expect their staff, particularly their young staff, to ‘get’ digital so receiving formal training could well be a big boost for your career.

Moreover, the digital industry is dynamic, growing and offers fantastic opportunities for swift progression. For ambitious graduates it is a natural choice for their first step on the career ladder.

Why have you decided to partner with Econsultancy for the new Bootcamp?

Partnering with Econsultancy was a natural choice for the new bootcamp. Not only is Econsultancy a leading light in the world of digital training and community, after meeting them it swiftly became clear that you share Inspiring Interns’ vision of helping ambitious graduates to improve their understanding of the digital industry and ultimately to help them break into this growing sector.

The blend of Econsultancy’s expertise in compiling meaningful, cutting-edge training with Inspiring Interns’ ability to find perfect graduates for companies is a natural fit and (we think) a winning combination for businesses and young jobseekers alike.

What should graduates expect to get from a digital internship?

A digital internship can provide a wealth of different skills within this growing industry.

You cannot fail to have seen the rise of social media usage within business – whether that’s a brand appearing on your Facebook timeline or promoting themselves on Twitter – and a digital internship will help you to understand how companies are harnessing these new channels of engagement for everything from business development to customer interaction.

You will also develop crucial skills in areas such as statistics and data analysis.

Analytics are a key part of any digital work and an internship in this area will equip you with the skills to identify relevant sets of data and extract trends to inform ongoing activity.

With the amount of data now easily available to businesses this is skill that is hugely valuable and in-demand.

How can they get the most of out their internship?

Getting the most out of an internship is largely down to attitude.

Interns who go in with an open mind, who understand that everything they do (no matter how small) is a learning experience, who use the opportunity to network with potentially useful contacts, who take advice on-board and who work hard are far more likely to have a positive experience than people who are blasé about the opportunity they have been given and treat the placement as ‘just’ an internship.

Other than attitude, communication is key. Establishing what you will gain from the internship before you start is important so that both parties know what the other is expecting.

Actively seeking feedback, both formally and informally, is also crucial to exploiting the potential an internship offers.

And should you have any issues it is far better to politely raise concerns with a superior rather than stay quiet and keep any frustrations bottled up.

How can interns impress the company they are working for?

Much like getting the most out of an internship, attitude is likely to be the defining factor in impressing your company.

A can-do approach to work, an ability to take on board instructions and carry them out without repeatedly asking for clarifications, and an ability to fit in and get on with colleagues are all key to making a good impression.

Finding a balance between confidence in your own ability and a level of humility that allows you to take on board advice and suggestions will also stand you in good stead.

What are their chances of getting a full time job with the company they intern with?

Internships offer a fantastic opportunity to impress a company and potentially earn a permanent job. At Inspiring Interns, for example, 65% of our interns become permanent employees at their host organisation.

There is a lot of negative press around internships and while there are some unscrupulous companies who misuse the mantle to exploit students and graduates, the majority of internship opportunities represent a genuine opportunity to gain meaningful experience and create a job for yourself.

Is it necessary to have previous work or academic experience of digital to apply for an internship?

Absolutely not – the point of doing an internship (particularly as part of the Econsultancy/Inspiring Interns bootcamp) is to gain that professional experience.

Far more important is the ability to demonstrate a general interest in the area, for example through a personal blog or through your Twitter presence.

The beauty of an internship is that it allows companies to hire on potential, not just experience. Giving evidence of that potential is the key to gaining an internship, not simply listing previous work experience.

Would you recommend that graduates apply for roles that are relevant to their degree scheme, or is it an opportunity to find out more about different career options?

Most graduates who have not done a vocational course will find that they have a broad array of options when choosing a sector in which to work.

Even if you have done a vocational degree (such as engineering) you still have lots of transferable skills applicable to other industries, should you wish to broaden your job search.

Indeed some employers like to hire graduates from a broad range of educational backgrounds in order to develop different approaches and ways of thinking within their organisation.

If you are looking at a variety of potential sectors then have a serious think about the skills you have developed during your degree, not just the subjects you have covered, and how these can apply to the roles that interest you.

Some graduates may be put off by the idea of unpaid work – why is an internship a better option than applying for a full time role?

Sadly the job market is a very competitive place at the moment, particularly for young people. Graduates applying to full-time jobs will face stiff competition and as such are required to have lots of relevant work experience in order to be considered.

An internship helps provide that experience, along with relevant contacts and additional support from colleagues that first jobbers would not have.

This helps you to develop your professional experience faster, while the flexibility of an internship gives you the opportunity to try more than one role or sector should you decide that one isn’t right for you.

How can graduates make their applications attractive to employers?

Targeted, concise applications are the key to grabbing a company’s attention. Avoid generic buzzwords such as ‘hard-working’, ‘team-player’ and ‘enthusiastic’ – employers will assume you are all of those things.

Instead focus on what makes you stand-out from the crowd. What extra-curricular activities did you undertake at university? What previous work experience do you have (including temporary work)? What skills have these taught you and why are they relevant to the role in question?

Clearly set out for employers in your CV and cover letter why you match their requirements: don’t expect someone to search through lots of irrelevant information to find it for themselves.

Do this for every single application: no two companies are the same so no two applications should be either.

And for the love of god triple-check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors! It is staggering how many people send CVs that are littered with mistakes. Don’t be that person.

What are the benefits of looking for a role through inspiring interns instead of approaching companies independently?

Inspiring Interns are not only able to offer a huge range of roles within a wide selection of exciting companies, we work closely with candidates to help them understand what sectors they are suited to and enable them to build rounded profiles that will impress potential employers.

This includes a half hour preliminary interview in our office along with the filming of a video CV and personality/psychometric testing.

When selecting candidates to represent we do not apply broad selection criteria such as ‘minimum 2.1 degree’. Instead we look at each application individually and make a judgement on the person as a whole, not just their education.

So for many graduates we are a far more appealing option that traditional graduate schemes.

David Moth

Published 7 June, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Amanda Davie

Great initiative.

As a digital professional services provider we (Reform) have an internship programme - it not only supports our growth strategy but as a digital industry employer we feel that it is our responsibility to make a contribution towards the much-needed 'responsible development' of digital talent, so that our industry can continue to thrive and be one of the few success stories of the Recession.

Inviting interns into your organisation keeps your ideas fresh and your finger on the digital pulse. Every growth company in our sector should open their doors to interns, and the government should encourage / incentivise more to do so.

about 4 years ago

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