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Making Internships Work for Universities, Employers and (Mature) Students Martha Caddell The Open University in Scotland HEA Employability Seminar 31 st.

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Presentation on theme: "Making Internships Work for Universities, Employers and (Mature) Students Martha Caddell The Open University in Scotland HEA Employability Seminar 31 st."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Internships Work for Universities, Employers and (Mature) Students Martha Caddell The Open University in Scotland HEA Employability Seminar 31 st October 2012

2 Section 1 Starting points Popular, political and pedagogic debates

3 Starting Points Popular and Political Debates Graduate (and youth) unemployment high. Unpaid internships / work experience Reports suggest that work placements and internships key to employment. What is an internship? Practical and legal definitions

4 HE Agendas University Agendas Grad attributes, employability, skills development … ‘A degree is not enough’. Internships and placements for all? Wilson report in England / LTW2 in Scotland But what constitutes ‘meaningful’ experience? Practical and resource challenges for universities.

5 Section 2: Insights from Practice: Third Sector Internships Scotland

6 Third Sector Internships Scotland Collaboration between Scottish universities and Third Sector: to enhance students employability and the capacity of the TS. Third sector engagement strategy: work with third sector organisations, Interfaces and Social Enterprise Networks to develop job descriptions and offer comprehensive support pre, during and post-internship. Higher education engagement strategy (students, academic staff, student associations, careers services): open to all students across all Scottish HEIs and provide support throughout internship process. Learning/research: from employers, interns and internship context.

7 An Overview Part time and full time paid placements –Flexibility for students and employers. Real life application process, with guidance and feedback –Employability, not ‘just’ jobs. –Offered alongside study, but not linked directly to studies. High demand from employers and students. Need to consider support for the ‘mass’.

8 Some examples Aberdeen FoyerCommunications Cothrom Re-storeDevelopment Officer (South Uist) Edinburgh Cyrenians Food and Health Project Furniture PlusMarketing and Events (Fife) Talking MatsSales and Marketing (Stirling) Volunteer Centre DundeeOnline Learning Development Ionad Cahluim Chille IleCultural Tourism (Islay) BEESResearcher (Jedburgh)

9 Internships: The Impact Third sector organisations completing projects that otherwise would not have been able to. –Fresh ideas, new skills –Internships as distinct from volunteers. Students gaining work experience, recruitment experience … and jobs. Making connections, making a difference –Students connecting with local communities. Learning opportunities – Data set / collaboration / employer engagement / model to replicate

10 Section 3: Beyond ‘bright young things’: Mature students and internships

11 Beyond ‘Bright Young Things’ Internships not just for ‘young’ students. Diversity of applicants … Range of motives and needs. Particular characteristics of mature students. –Patterns of success. –Particular challenges re articulating skills and experience. Applications and interviews Key challenges in integrating and articulating life and study.

12 Do mature students want internships? 20% of applications are from students who are over 25. –Includes postgrads, particularly skewed to international p/gs. Of UK undergrad students, 9% of applications are from mature students (over 25s). Some demographic variance viz. under 25s. –Gender, socio-economic background. Some variance in skills perceptions and success rates.






18 Why do they want internships? Paid work – distinct from other forms of work. Career change –Towards ‘graduate’ careers. –A shift in direction / sector. Returning to labour market Confidence, experience, networks, skills. Enhance study experience.

19 “On paper, I might look like someone who doesn't need an internship. But there is a lot for me to learn in this role. I want to restore my market appeal to employers. I need to get back into the rhythm of working as part of a team. I want experience in developing communication skills, and in working with dialogue groups and small groups. And I need to get up to speed in social networking. Most of all, I want the chance to begin a career working with refugees and asylum-seekers.”

20 “Although I have a lot of skills and experience gained over many years work in the charitable and voluntary sector, I worked for the same organisation for a long period of time, before returning to university, and so, am keen to experience working for other charitable organisations to broaden my range.”

21 “I would particularly like to develop my project design and management skills, as these are central to so many roles. It would also be advantageous to be back in touch with the day-to-day running of an organisation and to be involved in problem-solving decisions. Although all these skills have been necessary to some extent during my studies, it has been a long time since they were used in the workplace, and it would boost my confidence to practise them in the supportive environment of an internship.”

22 On an internship: The experience Flexibility – allows mature students to fit around other commitments. Paid – makes it (a little) easier to do. Interns highly value opportunity –Confidence, experience, networks, skills. –Reflection – on study and work. Students get jobs.

23 Case study 1: Gillian, New Caledonian Woodland

24 Case study 2: Pete, Community Energy Scotland

25 Emerging Themes Beyond assumption of bright young things. –Career change / return to work. –Mature students have many advantages. Experience, skills and confidence in those skills. Challenges –Raising aspiration to apply. –Mobility –Integrating study and work / life experience. Diversity of experiences and needs –Beyond a linear model of employability –Interweaving of study and work lives –Role that internships and work placements can play.

26 Dr Martha Caddell Learning and Teaching Coordinator, The OU in Scotland Co-Director Research and Learning, TSIS Email:

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