Helen Coppen, Director at eg technology, discusses why internships are important
Finding the right job for a graduate at the end of their course can be a challenge. Competition is strong with many graduates vying for limited places on coveted graduate programmes and for graduate positions. What sets a graduate apart in the eyes of a potential employer is that all important work experience in industry.
Internships provide students with valuable hands-on work experience, something that cannot be gained in a lecture theatre or classroom setting. A year in industry enables interns to apply theoretical knowledge to real work experiences and understand exactly what they can expect in their chosen field. It offers a great opportunity to develop skills and really understand their strengths and weaknesses. The programmes are designed to support students, feedback and train, and identify areas for improvement. Working in a company enables students to experience other skills needed such as communication, collaboration and teamwork.
Placements can also ensure that students are on the right career path. The reality of the job can be very different to what was expected when choosing a degree course. To experience the role can reinforce this decision or enable students to redirect their career path if necessary. Students who have completed internships have an advantage with future employers as they usually require less training and can “hit the ground running”. Confidence that has developed whilst working in industry is very advantageous in the interview process.
And if all of this isn’t enough to encourage students to apply for internships, spending a year in industry gives students, work-life skills, important professional contacts, references and that all important work-experience on a CV.
Over the years, we have had some exceptional interns who have not only contributed towards the success of individual projects but also made a real, broader impact to the business. Interns are given valuable training and support during their year at eg technology. Important skills are learnt across all of our disciplines of mechanical, industrial design, electronic, and software engineering. It doesn’t stop here. Our interns are exposed to other elements of the company such as project management, quality systems, regulatory, business development, networking, events and marketing. This is a well rounded and rich experience that our interns can take back to their degree courses for their final year.
It also is a great way for us to see how much potential a student has as we can see their skills, work ethic, capability to apply learning and ability to work in a team. We pride ourselves on picking the right people for the company as, at eg, it’s all about working together as a team. We openly share our ideas, expertise and knowledge and ensure our interns feel supported in an environment where their contributions are valued.
We’ve made several very strong appointments from students who have spent a placement year with us and then returned as a permanent employee upon completing their degree. We see this as “growing our own” and in an industry where we are seeing a shortfall of 60,000 engineering graduates and technicians, it’s really important to nurture and encourage interns in the engineering sector to make sure they take up a career in this industry.