Internships: Publishing Company Adds Intern to its Books
Publishing consultancy Mare Nostrum recruited a valuable new team member thanks to Santander working in conjunction with the University of York. But the placement also had major benefits for the intern, not least the offer of full-time work.
Internship schemes are an increasingly popular way for companies to source highly motivated talent. “Internships offer bright young people the opportunity to develop before they enter the world of work full time,” explains David Pickering, Director of publishing consultancy Mare Nostrum. “In return, businesses can harness their energy and enthusiasm.” It’s a win-win relationship, as David should know, his company having recently benefited from an internship placement part-funded and arranged by Santander.
While high-profile firms may have a waiting list of potential recruits, SMEs often struggle to attract the best interns. This is why Santander has established Breakthrough Talent, working in tandem with Santander Universities Global Division, where the UK-based Universities team works with 76 universities up and down the country.
Santander draws upon its network of relationships with small businesses across the UK and helps place student and graduate interns for a period of three months, with Santander funding one half of the internship and the SME funding the rest.
Sharing the workload
In May 2013, Santander’s Internships programme worked with the University of York to provide Mare Nostrum with a field sales and marketing internship. The position was awarded to linguistics graduate Francesca Pollard, who began her placement in July. “I’m a huge fan of well-managed internships schemes, having used them since 2010,” says David. “We’ve offered places to five interns since then, with Francesca being the latest to take up a role with us.”
“The funding we had from Santander was really appreciated, but so was the expertise and delivery of the Internships initiative. Employing interns can be a legal minefield for SMEs, but going to a reputable programme means all those boxes are ticked. It is definitely an approach I would recommend.” David Pickering, Director of Mare Nostrum
“I first looked at the idea of internships because the team was snowed under with work but, as a small company, taking on a new permanent member of staff wasn’t an option,” he says. “When a friend told me about York University’s internship scheme, it seemed like a good opportunity to help a student looking to gain work experience, while taking some of the load off my shoulders.”
From placement to profession
David’s first experience of an internship was a huge success. After finishing her placement, the first-year student continued working with Mare Nostrum on a part-time basis until she had finished her degree studies. Francesca’s internship has been similarly successful. “Francesca now looks after our Italian market and has just returned from her first business trip,” says David. “We are very pleased with our collaboration with the University of York and Santander to have found a candidate as precise and intelligent as Francesca.”
David believes that for an internship to succeed, recruitment must be as rigorous as it is for any other role in the company. “I look for work ethic – indicated by part-time jobs while at school or university – maturity and confidence when interviewing for internship positions, as well as key skills such as fluency in French and Italian,” he says. “In a way, the whole three-month internship is an ongoing interview process, as we like to employ participants afterwards if we can. Francesca always knew that a permanent role was a possibility if she performed well.”
A great place to learn
Clear objectives, a review process and final feedback are also key to ensuring that both employer and intern gain the most from the placement. “There was a bit of ‘hand-holding’ with Francesca at first, but she quickly assimilated information and gained an understanding of business models and processes,” says David. “There is a romance to working in the publishing industry, so we tend to attract Arts and Humanities graduates unused to the business world. We have to explain basic concepts of discounts and margins. There was a lot of pressure on Francesca from the start. At the same time, I feel this is a soft, protective environment and a great place to learn.”
David also believes that the quality of the internship programme is key to a good result. “The funding we had from Santander was really appreciated, but so was the expertise and delivery of the Internships initiative. Employing interns can be a legal minefield for SMEs, but going to a reputable programme means all those boxes are ticked. It is definitely an approach I would recommend.”
Taking the time to develop skills
“I very quickly learnt to communicate effectively in a work environment, to pick up the phone and make that call.” Francesca Pollard, Marketing and Field Sales Assistant, Mare Nostrum
When Francesca began her placement she was taking her final exams and looking ahead to what she would do after she had her degree. “I’d had part-time jobs in restaurants and teaching languages, but I wanted to get to grips with the world of work,” she says. “Publishing was high up on my list as a career choice, and the role at Mare Nostrum would also enable me to use my languages.”
“I was attracted by the prospect of a permanent job, of course,” says Francesca. “But I also felt that three months would give me time to understand the role, to find out if it was a good fit for me, and if I could do the job. It was a steep learning curve and I had moments when I thought I had taken on too much. But a shorter placement wouldn’t have given me the time to get under the skin of the job properly.”
Advice for prospective interns
Francesca says that being presented as an employee – and not ‘just’ an intern – gave her confidence and meant she was treated with respect when dealing with clients. “I very quickly learnt to communicate effectively in a work environment, to pick up the phone and make that call,” she says. “It could be daunting, but knowing I had achieved it put other challenges into perspective so I gained confidence.”
She also discovered that managing her time at work was very different from managing her studies. “I thought I was well organised, but I soon found out that I needed to be much more rigorous in the workplace,” she explains.
So what advice would Francesca give to anyone considering an internship? “Remember to give it your all, as it’s an opportunity that can lead on to bigger things,” she says. Her new boss David agrees. “An internship is a fabulous opportunity to gain experience and skills. Even if it doesn’t lead to a job, it may result in a glowing reference that will secure you a position elsewhere.”
To find out more, and register your interest in the internship programme, visit www.santander-grants.com