Corporate Eye

Gap Year Interns: The New Graduates?

gap-year-internThe gap year is a relatively new phenomenon and, despite a few strange years during the transition to the new tuition fee regimes, it’s certainly still the minority of students who take the opportunity to have a year off before going to university. For many students, the idea of a gap year consists of eight months bar-tending in the local pub and two bar-crawling in Australia. However, the reality is very much different and there are plenty of willing and extremely able school-leavers looking not just to make some cash, but to pick up some serious experience in a top company before they go to university.

However, the market for gap-year internships is incredibly competitive, not just because of the high demand for the top positions, but because of the low supply of serious placements available. Yet, a gap-year intern could make a massive difference not just to your long-term recruitment prospects but also could really contribute to your short-term business presence. Tempted? You should be…

Bright, Fresh and Flexible
Most gap-year students have no expectations, no experience and a lot of ambition. If you want to shape a particular role for someone in the short-term, it’s a perfect opportunity to take someone in, train them in the right skills and then there’s a fixed leaving date. Gap year interns see things from a new perspective that graduates just don’t and this can be a massive help on a short contract deal.

Happy to Chip In
Gap year students will expect to do their fair share of photocopying, tea making and number crunching and, provide you combine this workload with a healthy dose of productive and genuinely important work, you can really take the admin load off your existing staff. Those with a Masters degree in Business Finance may be less inclined to run off to the printers for an afternoon.

Ready Made IT Experts
It’s not too much of a generalisation to say that anyone born after around 1995 is going to be pretty savvy when it comes to Facebook, Twitter and social media, and almost all interns will be very comfortable. Their demographic and experience may well offer you some great ideas and a fresh perspective on your social media.

A Marketing Tool in Itself
Taking on gap-year interns shows not only to other businesses but to graduates that you’re serious about your workforce planning. Most gap year students will end up as graduates and, if the experience is positive, they will tell all of their colleagues about the great firm they’re going to work for. Nothing is stronger than word of mouth recommendations like that.

Undoubtedly there are risks involved in taking on gap year students, many of which can be mitigated by a strict interview process and ensuring you have very high selection standards. It might take your intern some time to adjust to the 9-5, but invest time and effort and you could be surprisingly rewarded.

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Tom Goodsir

Tom started his career early; taking on an associate role at Deloitte just a few days after his eighteenth birthday, working in a technical role but with a focus on identifying and recruiting talented undergraduates. He is now entering his final year at Exeter University and he continues to work with the recruitment side of the firm and remains an active brand ambassador on campus. Over the last few years, Tom has spent time building up a reputation as a freelance writer and has developed both a strong client base and good knowledge of social media along the way. Though there’s still plenty to learn, experience working in both the smallest and the largest of businesses has served him well and given him a feel for balancing strong corporate ideas with a personal tone. As a student, Tom is able to offer a valuable insight into the way graduate recruitment works from the other side and how students and interns react to particular styles of marketing and recruitment. Eventually he hopes to take off his copywriting business before embarking on an MA in philosophy.