The Santander Universities SME internship programme: providing a vital link between students and enterprise

The Santander Universities SME internship programme: providing a vital link between students and enterprise

Around 1,500 students and businesses are expected to benefit from the scheme in 2013/14.

This case study originally appeared on page 64 of The State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

In May 2013 Mare Nostrum – a publishing company offering business consultancy and sales and marketing services to global print and digital publishers – approached the University of York student internship bureau to recruit a sales and marketing intern. They wanted someone with excellent Italian and French language skills who could absorb and understand business models, databases and systems.

To help find a suitable candidate, the University of York worked with its partner, Santander Universities, which supports higher education in the UK through the funding of scholarships, grants and internships with small and medium sized enterprises.

Santander uses its links with universities to help place student and graduate interns for a period of three months within small businesses. Santander funds half of the internship while the SME pays for the other half. This means the SME has access to resources that would otherwise not have been available.

The programme has been running for some time and as such processes are in place which enables Santander to easily match students with employers and vice versa. The minor challenges are basic logistics such as finding a suitable three-month period in the student’s academic year and at a time that works for the employer.

It is a system that has been very successful: in the academic year 2012/13, 533 students completed internships, with more than 100 subsequently being taken on as permanent employees. It is anticipated that a further 1,500 students will benefit from placements during the 2013/14 academic year.

In the case of the University of York, it was able to place one of its students Francesca Pollard, a linguistics graduate, within the intern role on offer at Mare Nostrum.

The internship has given Pollard “a deeper insight into the importance of solid communication skills, as well as giving me an opportunity to gain experience for my role in a ‘hands-on’ setting,” she says.

Meanwhile, Mare Nostrum director David Pickering was so pleased with Pollard and her contribution to the sales and marketing process at Mare Nostrum that he hired her as a field sales and marketing assistant.

“Through engaging in marketing campaigns and sales work Francesca has assimilated information quickly and now has a good understanding of complex business models and products,” he says. “We are very pleased with our collaboration with Santander Universities and the University of York and are delighted to have found a candidate as precise and intelligent as Francesca.”

Pollard is equally as impressed with the Santander Universities internship. “It taught me a set of essential skills such as confidence in approaching and solving problems and in communicating with colleagues and co-workers, which will be crucial both in the continuation of my job at Mare Nostrum and in my future career,” she says.

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