With only eight weeks left at university, my hunt for a job in PR is fully underway. In the past three years, the need for graduates to gain experience in their chosen field has dramatically increased, but with this has come a number of issues.
The problems surrounding unpaid internships and work placements have caused major controversy during the past year, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg both supporting the move to fairer access to internships in a social mobility strategy.
Yesterday, as a way of tackling these issues, the CIPR launched an official guidance toolkit. Defining the various types of placements, setting out what both employer and student should expect from the time and with guidance on areas like pay and expenses, the document hopes to tackle some of these issues. The aim of the document is to support organisations in creating internships and work placements that will allow those wishing to start a career in PR to gain as much practical experience as possible.
During the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to gain a variety of practical experience in PR, with time spent both in-house and agency. Both placements, although unpaid, have been successful with no negative issues arising. However, I know from speaking to others on my course that this is not always the case.
Leaving university with no job to go to is a scary prospect to be faced with. Having the opportunity to gain practical experience during a six-week placement after graduating can give many students a helping hand. However, when faced with travel costs of £40 per week, little or no structured training from the organisation and duties above and beyond student capabilities can the placement really give students the vital experience needed, or does it only allow students with parental funding to flourish?
Hopefully, the document set out by the CIPR will help to diminish the chances of this happening and lead to a fairer and more productive internship system.
I understand that, as a student, my perspective on work experience will be very different to people currently working in the industry and I would be interested in hearing what others think. To view the document in full, click here.