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However you might feel about internships, employers say they use them to spot new hires

Graduate jobs survey finds employers more likely to recruit those who interned for them as students.

UNDERTAKING AN INTERNSHIP while studying for your degree is considered by Ireland’s top employers to be the best way to guarantee a job on graduation.

According to the 2017 gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey, 76% of the 120 graduate employers surveyed by gradireland run internship programmes.

Internships are a long-established part of the graduate recruitment process. At their best, graduate recruiters use internships as a means of developing future talent pipelines, bringing innovation and new ideas into their organisations as well as giving students a real sense of what is involved in working in a particular company or sector of industry.

Recruiting from graduates who formerly interned with them

The ultimate benefits of completing an internship with the graduate employers are clear for both students and the companies themselves. In new research for this year’s survey, employers were asked what percentage of their graduate intake they recruited from students who had previously interned with them. Sixty-two per cent said they recruited up to 50% of their graduates from previous interns (see Figure 17). Ten per cent said they recruited between 75% and 100% in this manner, stats which show the efficacy of internship programmes as a route to a graduate job.

As our graphic shows, 21% of graduate employers surveyed responded that they did not recruit any former interns, so while an internship carries obvious benefits, it is no guarantee of a job offer on graduation – or indeed that the student undertaking the internship will still want to work in that industry or for that employer at the end of the placement!

Internships and pay

The vast majority of student and graduate internships among the companies surveyed are paid. Ninety-three per cent of the graduate employers surveyed by gradireland responded that they paid students on work experience or internships, and comparison to research on the same subject in previous years shows that rates of pay have risen significantly.

The research reveals that 39% of graduate employers pay their interns between €1,600 and €1,799 per month, while just over 19% pay rates between €1,400 and €1,599 per month. Nineteen per cent paid their interns between €1,800 and €2,000 per month while 9% of employers were willing to pay their interns in excess of €2,000. In further promising news for those seeking internships, the number of low-paid intern positions continues to fall sharply. Last year 11% of employers were paying their interns less than €1,000 per month, in this year’s research that figure has fallen to 1.8%.

Duration and importance of internships

Graduate employers do not tend to create internships within their organisations without significant thought and planning given to the duration, content and purpose of the various internships offered. This is demonstrated by the average duration of the internships offered by the employers taking part in the gradireland survey. The average length of their internship programmes was either between 3-6 months (36%) or over 6 months (45%).

This shows the importance of the programmes to the graduate employers and students in terms of providing a cohesive and immersive experience for the students, and allows them to work on real and complex projects, gaining a real insight into the organisation and sector.

The nature of these programmes is reflected in who they are targeted at. Sixty-five per cent of the graduate employers surveyed run their internships for undergraduates, so many of these programmes take place either in the summer break (traditionally for students who have just completed their second year in college) or for students who have a placement built into their degree programme. However, if you are a graduate do not worry that you have missed the chance to intern as 33% of organisations surveyed offer internship programmes for both students and graduates.

Finally, given many of the positive outcomes associated with internships mentioned above, it is probably no surprise that many graduate employers are considering expanding their programmes. Thirty-five per cent of companies surveyed responded that they planned to increase the internship schemes they run.

Mark Mitchell is Director at gradireland.

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