WInternshipsith the general election looming on the horizon, the political parties are starting to communicate the policies that they’ll implement should they be voted into power in May 2015. We’re yet to see the full suite of proposals that will impact employment legislation and the workplace, although the Labour Party has announced an initiative to ensure that the best jobs aren’t available only to the rich.

Should the party be voted in, interns working full-time will be paid at least minimum wage after four weeks. Labour leaders believe that thousands of ambitious and talented people are locked out of many professions because they quite simply can’t afford to work unpaid for an indefinite amount of time. Research carried out for education charity Sutton Trust found that interns can expect to pay around £926 per month on living expenses – meaning the opportunity is out of reach for those without financial help from their parents.

So if your business brings in intern talent, you may have to reconsider your policies and procedures within the next six months. Of course, the law shouldn’t be your only concern. Nurturing interns and treating them well can prove to be hugely beneficial for your business, and you don’t want to have to deal with the headache of negative press when you get things wrong.

Often, it’s worthwhile to consider some best practice in the area, and assess whether you’re really providing a worthwhile experience for those on your internship programmes.

Read on for further information on getting it right:

  • Make sure that you fully understand what an internship is

Let’s go back to basics for a minute here. What exactly is an internship? It’s the opportunity for an individual to gain relevant professional experience before progressing a career. This means that the work carried out by your interns should be useful both for your business, and for the individual. Ask yourself whether that’s really the case right now within your organisation. If you’re advertising an internship in journalism, and the successful candidate spends the majority of their day making coffee and answering the phone, you’re missing the mark.

  • Carefully consider remuneration

You’ll have a keen eye on costs, and that’s understandable. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do all you can to reward your interns. Paying the living wage is not only arguably the ethical thing to do, but it can also ensure that you attract the very top talent to your schemes. Also remember that paying an intern can be a great investment for your business. They’re often ambitious, full of ideas, and eager to learn, and can make a brilliant contribution to your projects.

  • Get your interns off to the best possible start

You want to make your intern feel welcome and valued from day one, so it’s important that you take the time to consider their needs when they’re first getting started. Have you organised an induction? Does the individual fully understand their role and responsibilities? Do they know where to turn to if they have any questions? If you’re giving the responsibility of managing interns to another member of staff, make sure that they’re fully onboard with the initiative.

Make the commitment to being an exemplary internship provider, and the benefits for your business could be huge.

Do you want to consider the possibility of launching an internship scheme for your business? Give us a call, and we can guide you through the process – from finding the best people, to designing projects that can have a real impact on your bottom line.