Part 1: Internship programmes come of age
Over the past two years, C&B has had an internship programme in place which means that at any one time, there are three or four interns hard at work in our office. I personally get involved with the programme by interviewing candidates, mentoring and advising, and ensuring that their task list goes far beyond merely making copies and running errands (as is often the case in other companies).
I feel that all businesses — as part of their duty to be responsible citizens — should have a structured internship programme in place, because internship programmes are a win-win situation for both parties.
Interns gain insights into making career decisions, acquire valuable work experience in order to step onto the career ladder, find career mentors, and build their career network – all of which is typically missing from a university degree programme. Companies benefit too – they gain hardworking individuals who are eager to learn and contribute, a source of fresh ideas and sometimes useful different perspectives, a pipeline of potential new talent that has been thoroughly vetted, additional manpower, and the opportunity to give back to the community.
There is an ongoing debate around internships being paid or unpaid. I feel particularly strongly that internships should be paid positions. I believe this because we treat our interns as full-time employees – they are expected to adhere to a code of ethics, sign a contract, keep regular working hours, and behave and perform in accordance with the same set of standards as our hired staff. We recruit our interns using a similar vetting process to the one we employ for full-time recruiting, and they are evaluated on a weekly basis for performance, contribution and improvement. During our quarterly employee awards, where we gather to celebrate the colleagues who are ‘heroes’ among us, we also recognise an ‘intern of the quarter’.
While internship programmes come in a variety of sizes and structures, in part two of this blog I’ll outline what elements I think must come together to create an outstanding internship programme.
Ross Bethell is the Director of Strategy of Cicero & Bernay Public Relations. An independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai and offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me