Internship Experience UK – a lasting impact on the graduate careers space?

Jun 17, 2020 | Work experience/internships

ISE is supporting Internship Experience UK. Ben Triggs of Bright Network explains how employers are benefiting.

With 22,000 applications in the first week, Internship Experience UK has captured the imagination of the student population and is providing an opportunity for all, regardless of background, previous experience or degree studied.

In response to the impact of Covid-19, over 100 employers, trade bodies and educational institutions have come together to support Bright Network’s virtual work experience initiative. The core aim of Internship Experience UK is to give students the opportunity to engage directly with employers, build their skills and boost their employability at this challenging time.

How does it work?

Internship Experience UK is a series of three-day programmes across six business areas, designed and delivered by a combination of the Bright Network team, industry experts and world leading employers.

They look to emulate the experience a student may have on a formal internship, as they complete core skills workshops (such as, commercial awareness and networking) and enjoy a range of sector focused sessions delivered by leading employers.

For example, in the technology stream Google will be delivering a “managing complexity” session, while Goldman Sachs will run a “deal lifecycle” session in investment banking.

In the second half of the internship, participants individually focus on a project that simulates the sort of work that they may be exposed to in the sector. This is where Internship Experience UK goes further than other e-learning based experiences: by being live, participants can join virtual booths where they can network with their peers as well as with recent graduates working at top firms.

This creates a unique opportunity for participants to share ideas, get support with sample work and build their network, similar to an actual internship.

The project work is also assessed through peer review, which helps participants learn from feedback, as well as the opportunity to critically think about another submission.

Is this the way forward for graduate recruitment?

Virtual work experiences aren’t a new idea, but like so much online, the lockdown has driven innovation and fast paced change.

When the first stream goes live on 29 June, Internship Experience UK will give thousands of students a unique opportunity to build towards their future – the scalable nature of it means it can really have a tangible impact across the student population.

It would be naïve to think this is going to replace the traditional internship in the next few years. Of course, there are elements of spring or summer internships that both employers and candidates benefit from which can’t be emulated by a programme like Internship Experience UK. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t have a place in the post-lockdown graduate careers space.

As more employers look to have meaningful and memorable interactions with focused groups of students, the opportunity to virtually meet thousands of potential candidates and explore their capabilities within a sector could be invaluable. Being virtual means they can do this without the limitations of an office capacity, but still create a personal experience.

Finally, the depth of data and tailored touch points with potential candidates throughout such a rich experience can help businesses to identify future talent.

Most significantly, virtual experiences like this would allow firms to talent spot based increasingly on a candidate’s attitude and aptitude, rather than previous exam grades or the university they attend.

Whatever the future holds for virtual experience and upskilling, for now we look forward to the 29 June launch and the following three weeks of Internship Experience UK. For everything you need to know, find the hub here.

Insight and data on how employers have shifted their experiences online in response to Covid-19 can be found in ISE’s Covid-19: The impact of the crisis on student recruitment and development.

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