A Case For Internships

Posted by Tom

Tom writing at a festivalLife for a graduate these days isn’t easy. Recent figures show that graduate unemployment this year will be a whopping 58%, a shockingly large number. Competing in a difficult job market with ever rising debts, graduates can often find themselves at a bit of a loss when it comes to finding a decent, full time, well paid graduate job. The most common work for graduates these days is part time work in coffee shops and bars. I know, because I did both.

Life Before ThoughtShift

As a graduate from the University of Chester with a BA Hons in English and Creative Writing, I knew it would be difficult to get a job anywhere, never mind a half decent graduate job in a field that I wanted to work in. I did what I could though. I plugged away at my C.V (I think I’m on about version eight now) went to see numerous career advisors (the competence of who ranged from very useful to eye gouging levels of ineptitude). Worked on my own projects (tumagazine.co.uk) and applied for probably around 150 jobs in the space of two years whilst holding down two jobs in a local cocktail bar and coffee shop.

The ThoughtShift Digital Academy

After two years I had managed to get three interviews, each of which decided against employing me. Which was fine, I stayed positive, carried on working hard and carried on trying – but I was exhausted, there had to be another option. It was then that I came across an advertised position, for an unpaid internship for a digital marketing company in Brighton – The ThoughtShift Academy.Internships have gotten a lot of stick in recent times. Premier league football teams have been lambasted for creating ‘unfair’ positions for extended periods of time with no prospect of being paid or gaining a full time job. A number of campaigns have popped up across the country against the use of internships by companies looking for free graduate employees. And while I agree with the statements and intent of these campaigns for unpaid positions for prolonged periods of time, I do believe that internships, when coordinated correctly and carried out appropriately, can be a great opportunity. And this was an opportunity I took.For those not so much up on their geography, Chester is 253 miles away from Brighton. It’s far. But nonetheless, I took the risk. Already getting stick from friends as well as strangers who, when I told them what I was about to undertake, chastised me and compared my current employment to ‘slave labour’ and accused my new role of being nothing more than a ‘office tea boy’. I’d already been a tea boy for a year and a half, and I can tell you now, it was nothing like it.

Being An Intern

For the first time since university, I was put to work. I went through a rigorous training schedule where I was able to use my skills that I’d learned through my degree, and my own projects and was shown how I could put these skills to work for SEO. From day one I knew my role, what was expected of me and how I was supposed to work on a day to day basis. For three months, I was picked apart and put back together again to hone my skills in an open, honest, professional and fun environment – this is what the ThoughtShift Academy does best.It took me in, a bumbling graduate who could make a killer latte and write a half decent album review but had no clue what a CMS was, and hammered my talents and my degree in a different direction. Showing me how I could use them to write content for websites, develop keyword research and discover content gaps in the market to help boost a client’s online presence, and in turn make a difference to their rankings. I never pictured myself working at a digital marketing agency, but I saw an opportunity to use my skills as a writer and editor for the benefit of a company, and the company saw an opportunity in me.


After three months of working for the company on an internship basis I presented what I had learned to the group, as well as my own ideas as to what I thought SEO was all about and some of my ideas about how we could improve. And I’m happy to report that it went down pretty well, I was given a full time position and the ideas I presented are well on their way to becoming part of the way we work at ThoughtShift.The graduate job market is as tough and as cutthroat as they come, which is why interning is always an option – as long as the company that employs you uses you for real work rather than as a tea tray. It can give you real life, invaluable experience that can, and as it did for me, totally change your career and your life.If you’re interested in taking part in the ThoughtShift Academy internship programme, then send us an email with your C.V, a cover letter and the answers to our (not very difficult) preliminary questions and we’ll get back to you.