UWE Internship Scheme helps beat recession

Issue date: 05 July 2010


University of the West of England The Graduate Internship Scheme run by the University of the West of England is having a really positive impact on employment in the region.

Many graduates are being offered full time employment as their individual internships finish with very positive uptake by small to medium sized enterprises. (See profiles)

Maggie Westgarth, Head of UWE Careers, said, “The interest in the UWE Graduate Internship Scheme has been phenomenal and has enabled the University to partner up with and develop relationships with many new businesses and organisations.

“Significant new jobs are being created within small businesses who seem keen to retain graduate skills after the internship gives a taster of the value that enthusiastic graduates can add to their bottom line."

As a result of UWE's outstanding success at engaging the initial interest of employers the Higher Education Funding Council has doubled the number of internships UWE can support from 200 to a total of 400.

Linda Pick and Colette Percival are on the recruitment team, they say the response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive from businesses in the region.

Linda has worked for UWE Careers Service for 20 years, she said, “We pressed the button to send the initial e-mail to an enormous list of prospects and within 30 seconds the first enquiry came through. Within the next 30 minutes we received positive responses from at least another 20 businesses. By the time we came in the following day there were over 100 businesses wanting to recruit interns. I can say without reservation that this has been one of the most positive schemes that we have been able to offer students in my time at UWE.”

Colette who previously worked in recruitment said, “We set out to try to engage businesses from interesting sectors that are traditionally quite difficult to break into. The internships offered have been amazing including roles as journalist, film editor, architect, balloon designer and games publisher to name a few.”

Profiles follow from Cameron Balloons and Aqua Vita Films

Cameron Balloons

Alan Noble from Cameron Balloon said that the company was suddenly presented with the scheme and thought they would give it a go. Alan said, “We had just purchased some new printing equipment. Printing onto balloons is a complicated process as balloons taper, so printing is not at all straightforward. We needed someone with a graphics background to help to manage the new equipment. Ordinarily new employees are taken on for a three month trial which becomes permanent if they do well.

“The scheme seemed like a good idea all round, we had a very high quality response to our need for a graphic designer and interviewed around 10 people. Martin ticked all the boxes and had incredible enthusiasm. He has proved very adept at learning how to use the new machine's programmes but he also has the artistic eye that is critical to ensuring designs will work. We have taken Martin on full time and we would absolutely use the scheme again. ”

Martin Shepherd, an illustration graduate from UWE, said, “I'm over the moon, everything seems to have happened so quickly, the internship scheme has been brilliant. I was getting really despondent but the scheme has given me a fantastic opportunity. I'm from Bristol so I know how important Cameron Balloons is to the city and I feel so proud to be working here.

“I did an illustration degree so it's really good to be able to use my artistic training in my work. I'm training on Cameron Balloons' new printing system and I will eventually take some of the workload from the Graphics Manager. I went to a Balloon Meet in Boulogne in France recently and had my first Balloon ride – it was amazing.

“I can't thank the UWE internship scheme enough.”

Aqua Vita Films

Adam Phillips, a UWE BA Media Practice graduate worked as a Production Assistant at Aqua Vita Films. As a direct result of his experience he was able to apply for a full time post at Film 59.

Adam worked on post production for a series called 'Gorilla School' for Animal Planet.

Aqua Vita Films Managing Director, Bernard Walton said, “This is an excellent scheme as it gives students the chance to cross the line from university to the business world and helps them to focus on the environment they will eventually work in. Equally for employers it means that we can offer up great industry experience and opportunity whilst getting help with funding. The scheme at UWE is very well run and we've been collaborating in some shape or form with the University on graduate employment experience of this kind since 2005.

“What I like about this scheme is the fact that we can choose the candidate. Adam has done really well and we've worked him hard – he has been involved in some transfer and conversion editing but also as a runner and doing basic stuff. The internship has resulted in him getting an interview and employment at Film 59 in Bristol. Schemes like this are a small price to pay to help graduates move into work where they utilise their skills to the full and gain essential work experience.”

Adam Phillips said, “I had done bits and bobs for production companies but the scheme gave me two months of solid experience at Aqua Vita Films. I was given access to an industry where it is traditionally difficult to gain a foot in the door. The time spent at Aqua Vita Films built my confidence and gave me useful industry contacts. By the time I went for my interview at Film 59 I didn't feel intimidated as I had some good experience under my belt. Bernard Walton was amazingly helpful; he sat with me and gave me some good insight into editing techniques. I think the scheme is great – it's possible to work forever for free in this industry but people don't really take you seriously until you've got some decent experience and insight.”

For more information on UWE's Graduate Internship Scheme e-mail:graduate.internships@uwe.ac.uk or register at the webpage here: http://www.uwe.ac.uk/careers/graduateinternships
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