Internships: charting a new course

By Sophie Klein on Monday, 8 August 2022

Almost seven years ago I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship at Teamspirit. There’s something really special about being allowed access to a professional working environment with no prior experience, to explore whether the industry or company could be the start of your career. For me, I immediately knew I was in the right place, and seven years later I’m now using my experience to nurture relationships with my clients in my role as Senior Account Director, and develop training programmes for our junior colleagues as part of our Training and Development team.

Internships don’t just provide young people with exposure to the real world. They’re an opportunity, at a critical point in someone’s life, to establish networking connections, learn transferrable skills, gain a competitive edge, and ultimately allow you to learn more about yourself - what kind of environment you thrive in, what kind of people you want to be surrounded by and the daily tasks you enjoy.

There is, however, a risk inherent to internships. Historically, they’ve been offered to friends, family, and existing connections of people within the organisation. While not always the case, this ‘who-you-know’-ism can be a hindrance to achieving equal opportunities for all, meaning internships in this form could act as a barrier to social mobility.

To combat this, at Teamspirit we are focusing more on accessibility programmes as a way of giving young people the opportunity to explore if the world of marketing and PR is right for them. This has involved a strategic overhaul of our graduate scheme, our apprenticeships, and our intern programmes.

The three key partners we’re working with on this journey are:

1. The Taylor Bennett Foundation

The Taylor Bennett Foundation is a charity that exists to encourage people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to pursue a career in communications. For the last two summers we have welcomed a 6-week internship to a Taylor Bennett alumna.

2. 10,000 Black Interns

10,000 Black Interns is seeking to offer 2,000 internships each year for five consecutive years. This year we’ve partnered with 10kBI to offer a 3-month rotational internship to a candidate who is working across our PR, marketing and strategy teams to get a full understanding of life in an agency.

3. The OPEN_ Programme

OPEN_ is a talent programme aiming to be the replacement to the wider graduate scheme for the creative and tech industries. A joint venture between Livity and Hidden, focusing on outreach to communities to promote mobility and access to our industry. The programme offers young people who have been previously marginalised or unable to access the industry, a 7-month paid internship. This year we are working alongside our sister agency Harvard to welcome a cohort of five interns into the business, providing opportunities across our PR, marketing, and creative divisions.

By taking on interns from diverse backgrounds, we’re broadening the pipeline into communications and contributing to a wider movement to improve representation in the industry. But we’re also accelerating our learning at Teamspirit. Our interns come to our brainstorms with fresh ideas. They bring energy to client meetings. Not least, they contribute to the dynamic and buzzy culture we thrive in. The learnings from internships are without doubt a two-way street. It’s clear to see I’m a strong believer in the value of an internship, but even more so, one that is open to all!