If you’re unsure of what to apply for, look for internships or work experience in fields that interest you – a short-term commitment and a great way of finding out what you do or don’t like. An internship might even turn into a permanent job, but at the very least it should improve your employability, build your network and earn you a bit of cash – the majority of internships must now be paid at least the minimum wage.
‘90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and graduates during the 2016-7 academic year.’
‘Over a third of recruiters warn that graduates without any previous work experience at all, are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer, irrespective of their academic achievements or the university they attended.’
Things to Consider
Do ask savvy questions to ascertain what you will get out of the experience – you don’t want to be photocopying for a year! Find out what you might be working on, what responsibilities you would have, and whether there’s a chance of securing a permanent position at the end.
Most businesses behave decently, obey the law and pay their interns; but unfortunately, some are still exploited – An estimated 10,000 graduates are in internships six months after graduation, of which a fifth are unpaid.
Whilst there’s no legal definition of an ‘intern’, if you work set hours and perform set tasks, you would probably be classed as a ‘worker’ and must therefore be paid at least the minimum wage – whatever the length of your internship.
(There are a few exceptions relating to charities, or students doing an internship as part of their course.)
Be aware of potential ambiguity, where the position is:
For a ‘volunteer’ – rather than an intern
Flexible hours – when the reality proves to be regular hours like other paid employees
‘Shadowing’ – but you are actually performing tasks like a regular worker
If an intern can prove they were a ‘worker’ but were paid less than the minimum wage, it may be possible to claim ‘back pay’ via HMRC, even if they had agreed to work unpaid at the time:
Find Out More:
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