QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 76 - Page 8

Supporting Students Through Internships Internship programme helps students make a difference to Scotland’s third sector W ITH ALL THE recent controversy surrounding unpaid interns in sectors such as politics, media and the arts, it’s reassuring to know that an innovative collaboration between Scotland’s universities and third sector organisations is leading the way in offering fully supported, high quality paid student internships. In the last year the Third Sector Third Sector Internships Scotland Internships Scotland programme has Co-Director Fiona Boyle from helped over 150 university students QMU said: “The response has been provide invaluable support to Scotland’s incredible. Students are taking the charitable and voluntary organisations. initiative to get first class, hands-on The project has not only provided work experience which can help boost outstanding work opportunities for their employability and kick-start their students, it has helped bring fresh career. The third sector organisations thinking and new skills to Scotland’s are reaping the benefit – a new skills third sector. set, a fresh approach and a different Over 130 community groups, charities, pair of eyes can be just what these social enterprises and voluntary organisations need to help them improve organisations across Scotland have service delivery to their communities.” benefited from this novel scheme. The programme, which is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and open to students at all Scottish universities, has allowed students to develop their skills and employability whilst making a meaningful contribution to a third sector organisation. Students have taken up posts across Scotland from Islay to Inverkeithing and from Dumfries to Dingwall. She continued: “It’s been very rewarding to know that employers really value the interns work and can see considerable benefits to their organisations. At the same time, the students are reporting that they really value the opportunity to gain relevant experience. Being given real responsibility and opportunities to develop and apply their skills can be a major confidence boost.” For some students it is the first time that Such is demand from employers and they will have worked in a professional students that a recently published report environment. Students are exposed to a wide stated that the project has exceeded its variety of work experiences beginning with a targets for internships posts. So far, 3600 rigorous recruitment process. Importantly, they students have applied for 150 advertised have the chance to start a project and see it posts and a further 100 posts are likely to be through to completion. made available over the next year. The recent report ‘Making Internships Work The unique project, led by QMU, The Open for Scotland’s Students and Third Sector University in Scotland and the Scottish Organisations’ highlights how the partnership Council for Voluntary Organisations, has model adopted by the project is delivering real received high acclaim from charities and benefits. communities groups. The project is a TSIS Co-Director Margaret Wallace, from winning situation for all concerned, with Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, students enhancing their employability skills explained: “The success of this project couldn’t and gaining valuable experience, third sector have come at a better time. With significant cuts organisations seeing projects completed to to voluntary sector organisations, the internships exceptionally high standards, and communities project gives a much needed boost to this important across Scotland reaping the benefits of these sector of society. In turn, the voluntary sector is able fresh ideas and new talent. 8 QMYOU / Student Internships