Interns and internships have grown in popularity in the last decade but they sometimes get a bad press.

Some companies are accused of using them as cheap labour schemes.

On the other hand, you sometimes hear employers complain that interns arrive with knowledge but no skills, so even answering the phone in a professional manner is beyond them!

At Philip Elliott Associates, we have been involved with Nottingham Trent University’s internship scheme, sponsored by Santander, for over a year, and it has been a 100 per cent success for us.

Paralegal studies

Our intern, Robyn Baxter, 22 (right), was a law graduate who was looking for a placement while she completed the final part of her paralegal studies at NTU.

She was much more than just another pair of hands. In particular, she provided valuable legal expertise in some complex areas which enabled us to advise clients more effectively and more speedily. It’s the kind of expertise it would have taken us much longer to develop in-house.

For Robyn herself, it gave the opportunity to hone her legal skills in a real business and to learn how to work with a range of clients with a vast array of different backgrounds and needs.

‘Credit control’

She says: “At the time I didn’t know what I wanted to go into but debt recovery is a really interesting field. I was doing a range of things in civil litigation and outsourced credit control from quite early on in the internship. I was trusted to take on some tasks that, had I been in a larger company, I wouldn’t have been given, so the experience has been incredibly valuable.”

The good news is that Robyn, who has finished her postgraduate Legal Practice Course (LPC), has joined the firm full-time – so the temporary internship has paid off handsomely for all of us.

Internship schemes like Nottingham Trent’s have other advantages for a firm like us, beyond helping us to recruit. They include:

  • Extending our services – specialist knowledge provided by law or business graduates is a boon to small firms looking to develop in new areas.
  • Collaboration with the university – you become part of their network so can tap into other useful opportunities, like free seminars on key aspects of business such as marketing.
  • Supporting the city – Nottingham needs its graduates to support and grow the local economy and employment and professional training with SMEs is a vital part of the picture.

You can find out more details about the Nottingham Trent University/Santander internship scheme here.

As we say, Robyn has been a valuable addition to the company and we wouldn’t have found her without the scheme.

We just hope we can keep her!