Jumpstart - Employment Advice

Graduate, Internship and Apprenticeship Support from The Aga Khan Economic Planning Board

In the current situation, you may be facing uncertainty regarding your internship, graduate scheme, apprenticeship or year in industry that is due to start at some point this year. It is important to realign your expectations during this period, as companies make changes to their recruitment plans.

The AKEPB has gathered useful insights and advice and has put together some Q&As relevant to anyone seeking graduate employment. There is further advice regarding a new type of internship called virtual internships. These are open for registration and offer an alternative form of work experience.

Jumpstart Virtual Student Employment Series

Jumpstart will also be holding a series of interactive online events to help prepare and support undergraduate students for the 2021 internship and graduate scheme intake. This is also relevant to students applying for apprenticeships or a year in industry programme. There will be emphasis on the methods that undergraduate recruiters are expected to adopt in light of the current situation.

The events will also provide resources and guidance on psychometric tests, telephone and video interviews as well as numerous sessions that focus on the frameworks to apply when undertaking individual and group exercises at assessment centres. These sessions apply to the vast majority of industries and professions, from engineering and technology to banking and consulting.

If you have any further questions or would like to know more feel free to email Jumpstart at [email protected]

Q1) I Have An Internship Starting This Summer (2020). Should I Expect My Internship To Be Postponed Or Cancelled?

Yes, and it is likely to be the latter of the two. A number of internships have already been cancelled as companies can no longer offer the resource (both people and time) to welcome new starters and onboard them effectively. The most likely reason that companies are cancelling their 2020 summer intake is because they have not had time to adapt and set up the processes to support the large number of expected starters. Also, it may not be possible for a company to convert all its internships programmes into remote working roles or they may not have the technical infrastructure available to support the extra employees. These are just some reasons that internships are being cancelled.

Q2) My Summer Internship Has Been Cancelled. Is There Any Chance I Can Be Put In Next Year’s Intake?

This will be at the discretion of the company and in accordance with their hiring policies. Deferring internships is less common a practise than deferring graduate schemes. However, it is not completely unheard of. Keep in mind that companies may have already changed their hiring policies due to the Coronavirus and that will most likely impact undergraduate and graduate recruitment. If the company hasn’t expressed any next steps or alternative outcomes for your internship, it would be sensible to contact a member of the recruitment team to evaluate what options are available to you.

Q3) If I Haven't Heard Back From The Organisation That I'll Be Doing My Internship, Graduate Scheme or Apprenticeship WIth, What Can I Do?

You should make contact with the organisation you are due to work at. You can respond to the member of staff that made you your offer because they’re most likely to be dealing with your employment. However, you should be patient due to the high volume of requests the company will be experiencing. If you don’t hear back from them you should go on the company’s website and locate the recruitment contact information through HR. 

Q4) I Am Due To Start In Summer 2020. They Have Not Mentioned That I’ll Be Working From Home (WFH)
a) Should I be concerned?

If your (soon to be) employer knows you’re joining them, it is very likely that they have a plan in place that addresses your need to work in a safe environment. If you have any concerns you should contact your employer directly. It would be sensible to request further information about the procedures that the company is implementing to ensure you can work safely.

b) Can I request to Work From Home (WFH)?

It is advisable that you first find out about the company's policy on WFH. If the team you are joining is currently WFH, then it is very likely that you will also be asked to WFH. You may have to go into the office to collect any equipment that the company would like you to use during your employment. This could be a laptop, mobile phone, tablet or any electronic device that allows you to safely and securely work remotely. If you have concerns about working in the office environment and would like to WFH then you should take this up with your line manager or a member of the HR team in a professional and sensible manner. Organisations are currently under a lot of pressure to establish remote working procedures especially if they do not have the technical capabilities or wherewithal to ensure all staff can WFH. You should keep this in mind as it may take your organisation a little longer to authorise your WFH request.

Q5) My Internship / Graduate Scheme / Apprenticeship / Year In Industry Is Still Set To Go Ahead. Should I Expect Any Changes To The Way In Which The Programme Will Be Run?

Yes, the biggest change you should expect is that you will be asked to work remotely. This means instead of being in the office you will be working from home. If you have been given the details of your line manager you should contact them and discuss what technical or business equipment or authorisation you may need to competently complete the tasks in your upcoming role. You should expect performance objectives and business goals to continue as usual. If your role was expected to involve travel or working at a suppliers location, then you should expect this to be suspended until circumstances change. Your company will have issued detailed policies when it comes to working with suppliers or at other locations. Is appropriate for you to contact your line manager or HR for further information on this.

Q6) Who Should I Contact To Find Out More About My Internship / Apprenticeship / Year in Industry / Graduate Scheme That Is Due To Start In 2020?

It is sensible to email any member of staff in any previous correspondence about your internship or graduate scheme. It is recommended not to add members of staff on LinkedIn and to use that as a way to contact them as you are not yet a professional member of their organisation. You should respond only to the contact information that you have received already. If you cannot find any information in existing emails, you should go on the company's website and find any email addresses or telephone numbers relating to internship, graduate scheme applications or student recruitment. Again, you should be patient due to the high volume of enquiries HR teams may be experiencing.

Q7) I Was Thinking Of Applying For An Internship / Graduate Scheme / Apprenticeship / Year in Industry For The 2021 Intake. Will Companies Still Be Hiring?

You should expect companies to continue hiring interns and graduates for next year's intake. Despite the situation, a number of companies are still able to offer remote working roles. Interns and graduates are an important part of any organisation's long term talent acquisition plans. If you have a particular company you would like to work for, it is recommended that you follow them in the news and media and stay alert for any announcements to their internship and graduate scheme applications.

Q8) Usually, Applications Open Sometime In August / September. Will This Still Be The Case?

You should expect companies to open applications and commence recruiting as they do every year. It is uncertain if they will be recruiting the same number of students or if as many programs will be available. This is at the discretion of the company under the existing circumstances. However, this does emphasise the fact that you should be prepared, well in advance of applications opening, and certainly you should be on top of the dates of any companies that you are hoping to apply for an internship or graduate scheme.

Q9) If We Can’t Attend In-person / Face-to-face Interviews, How Might Companies Carry Out Their Hiring Process?

It is common for companies to have telephone interviews as part of their standard application process. However, you should expect some companies to ask for a video interview. This will either be a live interview with the hiring manager or a member of the HR team via an application such as Google hangouts, Skype or their own platform. Or, it may be the type of video interview where you are asked a series of questions and you record your responses so the interviewer is able to to assess your answers in their own time. You should expect to see multiple stages of telephone interviews and/or video interviews in the hiring process.

Q10) What Is A Virtual Internship?

A virtual internship (also known as a remote internship, an online internship, tele-working or telecommuting) is like a normal professional internship but instead of physically being at the office, you work remotely. This means you complete the work at home typically using your laptop or desktop computer. You are still able to gain valuable experience and exposure through: the work you do, the meetings you attend and the training sessions you undertake. Virtual internships still require a high level of professionalism despite the lack of a physical office environment. Virtual internships are free and do not cost you any money. Not all virtual internships are the same so it's important that you read, in detail, about what the company is offering, the registration process and their expectations of you during the internship.

Q11) Which Companies Are Offering Virtual Internships?

So far only a handful of companies are offering virtual internships. KPMG is one of the companies that has opened its registration for virtual internships. To find out more you should search the term virtual internships on Google using e.g. https://www.google.com/search?q=(virtual+OR+remote+OR+online)+(internship+OR+internships) or LinkedIn.