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March 2013
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Apprenticeships and Internships: A Personal View

Posted by: Laura Firmin, Intern, Capp

 

An introductory note from Alex Linley: Laura is a graduate of the University of Warwick and joined us as an intern at the beginning of the year, quickly establishing herself as an asset to our team. Here, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, Laura shares her personal reflections on what it means to be an intern or an apprentice.

 

“National Apprenticeship Week challenges those who regard individuals on training schemes as less beneficial to business than those with traditional academic qualifications. It has come to my attention that those who follow the academic route but also engage in work-based training embark on what is called an Internship; those who do not, complete an Apprenticeship instead.

 

But are the two that different? Employers welcome those candidates who have completed internships, even to the detriment of those who have no work experience, yet shun young people who have been an apprentice.

 

There is a play off between following a university route and embarking on an apprenticeship. Throughout college and university, the responsibility is entirely yours for completing work – you learn to manage your time and to motivate yourself for independent working.

 

Within an apprenticeship scheme, you may have more structure to your day and a manager. But you learn the importance of building relationships with colleagues and assimilating your routine to that of others. People rely on your work. On a degree course like mine, only you suffer when your work is not completed on time.

 

My degree in Sociology has broadened my ability to reflect critically on the world; I have developed writing skills. But upon graduating, I was still afraid to pick up the telephone to an unknown caller.

 

My degree work was almost exclusively assessed on what I could produce individually rather than as a team, which prevented me from growing interpersonal relationships with peers. I therefore ask: how useful is an individual to business if they find it difficult to function in a professional environment?

 

Both Apprenticeships and Internships ensure that young people are ready for work and more importantly, feel confident being in a work environment. Apprentices even complete a formal qualification as a culmination of their training.

 

As an Intern at Capp, I am not following a set training procedure, I am awarded the freedom to create and nurture my own skills development. For example, I recently designed and led a workshop for female students as part of International Women’s Week. I felt intrinsic enthusiasm for the success of the workshop because it was not simply a requirement for a formal programme that I would gain marks for completing.

 

Perhaps employers fear that formal qualifications do not necessarily emphasise the individual’s energy for the work in the same way as informal successes do, but I cannot believe that this is true. All career-focussed individuals will, at times, do work purely in order to further their progress, whether it is formally assessed or not.

 

Apprenticeships still have a way to go before they are regarded by employers having the same prestige as internships seem to have gained. It is likely that class prejudice plays a part in this as many Internships are unpaid, and are thus only available to individuals who can afford to live on other means.

 

Whatever work-based training is called, it is an important aspect of a young person’s development that should continue to receive support from employers.”

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