Keele interns provide talent boost for organisations during year of pandemic

More than 180 talented Keele University students have supported businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations during the Coronavirus pandemic, in the form of paid internships.

The placements, each lasting between 50 and 100 hours, have seen current students and recent graduates working mainly from home on various projects, such as the creation of databases to aid ‘at risk’ families and supporting the transition of existing services online, to developing marketing plans and promoting events.

The quality and employability of Keele students has been praised recently at a national awards ceremony, with student Mehgan Howard named as the country’s ‘Best Intern’ at the National Undergraduate Employability awards 2021, where the University also won the ‘Best Collaboration Between a University and Employer’ award.

During their internships, students are able to use their skills and experience to make genuine contributions to their organisations, whilst also gaining valuable paid work experience.

Ben Rigby, Managing Director of Sporting Communities, a Midlands-based not-for-profit that has benefited from Keele’s internship scheme before and during the pandemic, said:

“Interns have become valued members of the team; developing their skill sets, confidence and competencies to contribute to ongoing tasks.

“Their creativity, capacity, commitment and compassion has helped revolutionise how we operate and has assisted us in taking the next steps of our journey into new ventures and communities.”

The internships see students receiving payment for their work, whilst there is no wage cost at all to their employers. This is thanks to funding available through two initiatives: Keele’s partnership with Santander Universities, and the Keele-led Student Knowledge Exchange project.

Speaking about her experience of being an intern at Stoke-on-Trent-based voluntary organisation Connecting Tracks, Bianca Santiago said:

“Being able to work on a Covid-19 project as a student of Keele University has allowed me to contribute in a small way to supporting the community during this difficult time. It has been a valuable experience, working within a professional setting and to real-life deadlines.”

Terry Dray, Director for Employability and Employer Engagement, added:

“At Keele we are committed to community engaged learning. I am therefore delighted that we’ve been able to support so many charities and not-for-profits with important projects during these unusual and uncertain times.

“The response has been fantastic from all sides, and is testament to the level and range of knowledge, skill and perspectives possessed by our talented students and graduates.”

For more information about internships and other support opportunities available to organisations, please visit www.keele.ac.uk/gateway.