Dragons Den Puts Internships Back on the Mainstream Agenda

Lauren Maffeo who did a one month internship at Enternships shares her thoughts about her experience working in a startup environment and the impact it had on building her future career.

The UK is no stranger to the internships debate.

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Enternships team members at Youth Enterprise Live with a picture of our favourite Dragon

The Current Situation

Companies argue that the temporary career placements allow students a way of getting experience during university, gaining experience in the fields of their choice; opponents hit back with the point that for students who need to support themselves financially, the option of working for free is no option at all. As youth unemployment in the UK capital has continued to rise since well before the recession hit, this debate has persisted -especially as more and more students realise that workplace experience is arguably more critical to after school security than achieving top tier grades in the classroom.

Peter Jones, who recently mentioned Enternships’ work on Dragons’ Den, set up the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy to help students become more entrepreneurial and equip them with the skills to set up their own businesses.

At Enternships, we believe in the ability of young people to generate homegrown entrepreneurship by learning from those who’ve done it first. We know that volunteering or interning in your field of choice will always beat sending out CVs cold from your couch. And with companies from small startups all the way up to Goldman Sachs taking the steps towards mentoring youth, we’re confident that that this goal is far from unattainable.

It actually works

I speak from personal experience when I praise Enternships’ mentality. Having volunteered with them as an Assistant Community Manager since submitting my dissertation last month, I will begin a full time internship as a business/tech video journalist with AppBeat, a new video web series developed by digital media consultancy 5 Star Lives.

To say I found this position through Enternships is an understatement; besides applying directly through the website at Rajeeb Dey’s suggestion, David, our sales director, recommended me for it based on my volunteer work over the past month with Enternships. My new role with AppBeat will involve creating editorial content, networking with other exciting startups, and strategising how to create revenue for AppBeat and 5 Star-exactly the work that Enternships prepared me for.

I’m not the only one to find this success. Determined to help fix London’s one in four youth unemployment rate, the London Evening Standard has started its Ladders for London campaign to encourage employers to train apprentices based on the London Living Wage. To say that the campaign has seen success is an understatement; more than 500 companies, including investment giant Goldman Sachs, had enquired about taking on apprentices as of last week.

The future?

We don’t deny that the chance to intern for free is a luxury for those who can afford to do so; saying otherwise would ignore the paid work that many students need to pay the bills but may not offer career longevity. The good news is that many of those leading London’s business hub acknowledge this challenge too.

Government support of StartUp Britain has shown that promoting startups and innovation is on the Westminster agenda.

If the economic downturn has taught us anything, it is that when it comes to the world of work, there’s no such thing as a career for life. All the more reason to take the plunge and do what you love.

 

Author: Lauren Maffeo, Assistant Community Manager

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