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NUS backs intern scheme

Published: 20th December 2011

The National Union of Students has welcomed a move by Manchester Metropolitan University to offer its own graduates paid internships.

Up to 100 will be taken on this academic year and offered paid employment for up to 12 months.

Internships will be offered across all disciplines from finance, engineering and education to marketing, HR and design.

NUS Vice-President Dannie Grufferty, says: "As youth unemployment continues to grow it is fantastic that Manchester Metropolitan University have introduced a properly paid internship scheme that will really develop the employability of graduates.

Real benefits

“Graduates are crying out for schemes like this which actively develop the skills of interns whilst paying them a wage and the interns bring real benefits to the employer as well.”

The idea stems from the university’s Employability Strategy which has put employability at the heart of all university activity.

“Some of the best people we could employ are right here on our doorstep,” says pro Vice-Chancellor Penny Renwick. “We’ve got a lot of talented people and a lot of work that needs doing, so it’s potentially a win-win situation.”

The MMU Intern Scheme is already advertising around 20 ‘live’ job specifications in health care sciences, education, science & engineering, hospitality and facilities management and social sciences.

Excellent example

Each paid internship is designed to last between 3 and 12 months and will include access to development and training activities that have been specifically designed for the scheme jointly by the university’s HR department and careers service.

The scheme is open to all MMU graduates who have graduated from either their first degree or a master’s level degree programmes within the twelve months of the internship starting.

Dannie adds: "This is an example of best practice in an arena where unfortunately too many internships are excuses for free labour from highly skilled young people. The NUS Unpaid Internships: We Can't Work For Free campaign is pushing for an end to such unfair, unpaid exploitation.

"It is great to see a university that recognises how it can support it's graduates to negotiate a difficult jobs market and at the same bring huge benefits to the work of the university itself and we hope more employers will follow their excellent example."

Valuable experience

Penny believes its success depends on the jobs being real and challenging: “These are real jobs working largely on a project basis, and in many cases doing work which is perfectly suited to their experience as students. For instance we are creating 16 new teaching assistants to liaise with between academics and students on student satisfaction issues.

“This is about graduate level work experience which will build our students’ skills sets to help them position themselves strongly in the graduate recruitment market.”

Susan Bennett, a recent graduate from the BA (Hons) English course, who is applying for several posts through the scheme, said: “Once you're in the job market it becomes clear that you need a range of skills and competencies that can only be gained through on-the-job experience and MMU is so varied, it’s the perfect place for me to start my career.”