Using Internships to Help Recruit Prospective Postgraduate Students
As a follow up to our Internships and how they can be used as a tool for postgraduate recruitment webinar, we asked Mariyah Mandhu, Project Manager (Internships) at the University of Leicester, to share further insights about how universities can use internships as added value in their Arts and Humanities postgraduate recruitment activities.
Has a lot changed with postgraduate Arts and Humanities students since the pandemic? In some ways yes, but in others, no. Recruitment numbers fluctuate but it is still hard to convince students to undertake further study in this sector due to a perceived lack of financial return on investment.
However, all is not lost. One way of attracting Arts and Humanities postgrads is through internships. A great way to add value to a degree, internships offer students from History, Politics and Modern Languages the opportunity to consolidate their theory and put their learning into practice.
As an MA English Literature graduate myself, I know that undertaking internships in industry, academia and the third sector have been hugely beneficial to my development and career prospects.
Writing an essay is fantastic but learning how to generate copy, think critically in the workplace and establish rapport with professionals is a real art form. For recruitment, this means stressing the investments for these unsung hero subjects.
#1 Employability prospects
Postgraduate Arts and Humanities students are an asset to the workplace. Including internships gives prospective students the opportunity to see that they can succeed and get a job at the end of their studies – Masters degrees are not just for Christmas! They help to give students the confidence to go into the workplace after graduating, especially those who may come from underrepresented groups.
#2 Self development
It doesn’t matter if someone is doing postgraduate study for career development or personal interest, internships are a great opportunity to develop key skills both in and outside of the classroom. They help to showcase, and build on, the soft skills that students develop during their programme such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, time management and learning from constructive criticism..
#3 Cultural enrichment
Internships can offer new experiences to galleries, exhibitions and research facilities that people just don’t get regular access to. Partnerships with certain societies and bodies can help to promote your opportunities but also interest from prospective students.
What are the challenges?
#1 Finding opportunities
There’s always a worry of not finding an internship or work experience opportunity. Sometimes students do have to do independent research to find internships that are worth doing! Be sure to showcase how they’ll be supported during an agreed internship or in researching their own so they don’t become overwhelmed by the idea.
#2 Seeing value in time outside the classroom
For a lot of people, they’re paying to learn so why would they then want to do an internship which will take up even more of their time? You need to demonstrate the value of an internship in your marketing and recruitment messaging. Focus on how they:
- help to secure long-term employment
- diversify skillset
- broaden student’s knowledge of different job sectors
- help to build a professional network
- are not restricted by location
#3 Time consuming
Postgraduate students are a really diverse group including mature, distance, academic, CPD and carers so different types of internships will work for different people. There needs to be a variety of opportunities available that can work around their lives outside of their degree. Messaging should be around how students can fit internships in around classes, coursework and during holidays. Try to offer and promote micro-internships where they work on a specific short-term project or how they can set up taster or insight days at companies so even those who are time-poor have options.
While it is a challenge to come up with the right strategy for postgraduate recruitment in general, the Arts and Humanities certainly boggle the mind. The key is to listen to current students, work on the successes and keep preaching the message.
Let’s make culture fun again!
You can stream the full webinar discussion online now.
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