New funding means more interns for North East businesses

North East graduates are helping the region’s digital business grow whilst gaining valuable work experience thanks to an enterprising scheme from the University of Sunderland.

Five businesses based at Gateshead’s Northern Design Centre have employed local graduates through the University of Sunderland’s Graduate Internship Scheme, which provides funding to SMEs to take on a recent graduate on a fixed term placement.

Creative marketing agency r//evolution, digital technologies specialists Flo Culture, web designers Saberlight Digital, geodetic software experts Geomatic Solutions and Arcus animation studios have all taken on a graduate intern to strengthen their in-house teams after being introduced to the University of Sunderland scheme.

And having recently secured funding to support an additional 80 interns the University is hoping more businesses will access the scheme, replicating the success of the companies in the Northern Design Centre, all of which have gone on to employ the interns in permanent positions within their businesses.

One intern delighted to have been offered a permanent role is Daniella Taylor, who joined r//evolution marketing as a Junior Developer in August 2013, having just graduated with a BSc degree in Computing from the University of Sunderland.

Despite having completed a placement with Sage during her degree, Daniella knew she faced stiff competition for graduate roles and turned to the university careers service for support, where she learned about internship opportunities.

Daniella said: “The Internship has provided that all important stepping stone into employment and has allowed me to gain vital practical work experience.

“From day one I’ve been working on client accounts, web development projects and providing support to existing customers whilst benefitting from one-on-one training and mentoring from experienced professionals working in the industry.”

Gill Burgess, managing director at r//evolution, thinks internship schemes are a fantastic way for businesses to tap into the region’s graduate talent pool.

Gill said: “We were in a position to grow the company and wanted to bring fresh talent and cutting edge digital skills into a fast moving area of our business.

“Part of our culture here at r//evolution is about nurturing and developing talent, and we are looking forward to continuing to help Daniella develop her skills whilst we benefit from her graduate knowledge and enthusiasm.”

The scheme funds interns in small to medium sized businesses that will benefit from the skills and ideas a new graduate can contribute and allows the graduate to gain practical experience in the workplace.

Bianca Pollio joined Arcus Studios as a junior Animator and Designer after graduating from the University of Sunderland in 2012.

The internship allowed Bianca to not only hone her animation skills in a professional environment but develop the workplace skills which are vital in her chosen career.

Bianca said: “One of the most important aspects of the internship for me has being learning transferable skills such as teamwork, managing deadlines and client engagement in a practical environment.

“Having the support of an experienced team and actually putting these skills into practice on a daily basis has improved my confidence in my own skills and abilities.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Peter Kaczorek who joined Geomatic Solutions as a Software Engineer in December 2013.

Peter said: “An internship provides that important stepping stone between University and the workplace.

“Joining a company as a graduate intern allows you to further develop your skills in a safe environment, receiving support and guidance from experienced colleagues. I would recommend the Internship to any graduate who is looking to get their first step on the career ladder.”

And for the businesses, the benefit of having a graduate’s skills’ and enthusiasm proves invaluable, as David Calvert, Digital Director of Saberlight Digital found when he took on Alex Rossell as UX and Interaction Designer.

David said: “Taking on an intern was a great way for us, as a young company, to grow our resource and evaluate our new starter’s suitability for long-term employment.

“Alex is part of the team now, it was obvious within weeks of him joining us that he was an indispensable resource to the business and we see investing time and effort in helping him develop his skills as an investment in the future growth of our company.”

University of Sunderland’s Graduate Internship scheme has helped place 300 graduates into employment since it was launched in 2009.

Eve Richardson, Business Development Manager at the University of Sunderland said: “The internship scheme is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to tap into the region’s graduate talent pool, benefit from the innovation, enthusiasm and ideas an intern can contribute whilst evaluating the person for real, long term employment opportunities.

“The graduates gain valuable experience at a graduate level job that will help them secure future employment resulting in more long term, sustainable jobs for the region’s economy.

“We are delighted so many businesses at the Northern Design Centre have taken on interns and having been so impressed by their calibre, have offered them permanent employment.

“We hope with the new funding we will see more of the region’s SMEs benefit from graduate talent and more graduates take their first steps into successful future careers.”

The scheme offers small-to-medium sized business a financial contribution to employ a recent graduate on a fixed term contract.

For more information, contact Eve Richardson at Evelyn.richardson@sunderland.ac.uk or call 07748 334751.