Internship Best Practice - Employer Information

At the University of Oxford, our objective is to ensure that all professional internships facilitated through our Internship Office are high quality, and offer our students opportunities to develop skills and gain experience to help them transition from education to work. We want all internship applicants to feel confident that their internship experience will be the best they can expect and of a good standard, regardless of job function, sector and country.

Our mission, therefore, is for all internship hosts to provide good quality placements that are remunerated correctly for the work they expect interns to undertake.

The Internship Office at the University of Oxford supports Transparency At Work – the European Commission-funded initiate to promote work transparency for those undertaking internships.

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1. Remuneration

Internship hosts should:

  • Commit to remunerating their interns at least 80% of the cost of the intern’s subsistence (the amount required for interns to keep themselves)*

*If unable to provide this level of remuneration, internship hosts should consider two options:

  1. reducing the hours that an intern is expected to work and to provide them with other opportunities, such as learning a language, paid work, or training.
  2. offering benefits in kind, eg, free housing, free/discounted food, transport.

In the UK, private sector employers have to abide by minimum wage legislation. The UK Government webpages have a useful guide to the minimum wage policy.  International internship hosts will have to comply with local employment legislation; they should also provide remuneration similar to equivalent entry level roles within the industry.

Internship Office Policy on Voluntary Placements

Through the Micro-Internship Programme, the Internship Office facilitates voluntary work experience placements with reimbursement of local travel and lunch expenses on submission of receipts. Due to the voluntary nature of micro-internships, their maximum duration is 5 days. If, following the micro-internship, the hosts wish to engage interns to undertake work or undertake a full internship, this arrangement should be made directly between hosts and interns. Hosts should remunerate students at the minimum wage or above for this separate arrangement; the UK Government webpages provided useful information on minimum wage policy and employment rights for interns.

2. Offer & Contract

Internship hosts should:

  • Offer a clear description of the projects and tasks that the intern is expected to perform. If they have to be revised subsequently, it should be in agreement with the intern.

3. Learning & Content

As far as reasonably practicable, internship hosts should:

  • Indicate what skills the intern could acquire during their internship
  • Assign challenging tasks and projects with a high degree of responsibility
  • Make sure that the intern is provided with formal and informal training so that they are able to undertake the projects and tasks to which they are assigned
  • Limit the assignment of unskilled tasks

4. Supervision

Internship hosts should:

  • Assign a supervisor to each intern, with a ratio not exceeding 3 interns to 1 supervisor
  • Organise an introductory meeting with the intern to discuss mutual expectations, as well as learning and professional objectives of the internship
  • Organise regular sessions at least once a week where the supervisor tracks the intern’s progress, gives feedback or provides support
  • Structure the intern’s tasks within a work plan & a timeline (which can be revised with the intern)

5. Organisation Culture & Work Environment

Internship hosts should:

  • Schedule some time to introduce the intern to colleagues and the new work place including facilities and health and safety procedures; explain the organisation’s objectives and values
  • Acknowledge and value the intern’s contribution and achievements (e.g., public acknowledgement, name on publication, bonuses etc.)
  • Provide each intern with an appropriate work station (desk, computer, software, etc.)
  • Make the intern feel part of the team (include them in team building activities and celebrations)

6. Career Development & Employment

  • Provide the intern with a reference letter detailing the work undertaken/completed, the skills and experience acquired
  • Organise one or more meetings between the intern and the management of the organisation to discuss their future career prospects and potential support
  • Help the intern develop a strong professional network by fostering their participation in meetings, interactions and projects with clients & partners, as well as networking events

7. Practical Help

Supporting interns is particularly important when they are not native to your country or city. If you are able to provide advice on finding accommodation, travelling around, and medical or safety issues that might arise, this is greatly appreciated by students. What’s more, helping interns to settle in increases the likelihood of the internship succeeding, as interns will inevitably feel more safe and secure as they arrive in a new location. Some hosts provide accommodation as part of the remuneration package, others simply sign post students to cheap, good quality and safe accommodation.  Also, if the intern requires a visa to work in your country they will undoubtedly turn to you for guidance.  It is useful to put together an induction pack that you can distribute to interns as soon as they have been selected so they can get on and arrange all the logistics with your guidance.

Internships come in all shapes and sizes.  They can be as short as one week or as long as three months.  They could involve working in international finance companies in China, teaching law in a Ugandan prison, building toilets in Cambodia, or designing education projects for Oxford-based charities.  While all these internships projects may seem very different, good projects share some common elements:

Challenging and engaging– the very best internship projects enable interns to get really involved. The more demanding the project, the more students will invest themselves in the professional or research experience.  Oxford students also love to use their own initiative and apply their intellectual knowledge and creativity, so do ask them to suggest how projects can be developed.

Genuine contribution – the best internships allow students to feel they are making a positive contribution to the organisation.  A key question all organisations should ask is whether the work you are asking the intern to undertake is a valuable and useful contribution to the organisation.  Are there tangible outcomes? It’s helpful to remember that internships are much more than simply work experience.

Learning and development opportunity – a good internship project offers interns the opportunity to learn professional/transferrable skills, and allows for personal development. Good internships offer students the opportunity to improve the following skills:

  • Business Awareness
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Self-Management
  • Teamwork

More information can be found at www.careers.ox.ac.uk/develop-your-skills/

Duration – students accomplish a lot during an internship, even if the timeframe is short. The question to ask is whether the duration is suitable for the project in question.  6-10 weeks internships are probably the most popular…

Over the years we have seen many interns’ successfully complete projects whilst working remotely, usually because face-to-face contact wasn’t required for the completion of a particular project, but now online working has become the norm and many of us are adjusting to new ways of communicating with colleagues, completing projects and maintaining our professional lives. We are hoping that for many organisations, the use of a remote intern would still be really helpful, and we have guidance on how to set up a remote working opportunity specifically for them.

If you would like to discuss whether a project is suitable as a remote working placement, you can discuss your needs with the Internship Office by emailing us at internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

What types of projects are suitable for working at home?

A suitable remote internship would be one that does not require the intern to be physically present at the organisation in order to successfully complete the project. For example, if the project could only be completed within a laboratory, then the project would not be suitable for a remote working internship. However, if the work is not reliant on a particular location and working remotely will not negatively impact the project, then a remote internship could be suitable as long as it meets our standard programme requirements. If part of your project can be completed remotely, we encourage you to consider if the other part is vital to the success of the internship. If it is not, and the intern would still get some work experience, you are welcome to offer a relatively short experience, anything from a few days to a few weeks.

Differing timezones

Oxford is an international university with students coming from all around the world. We also work with many organisations that offer internships globally. Whilst working remotely, it is possible therefore that the student and the employer might be in different time zones. With this in mind, we suggest that a working day starts within 2-3 hours of the employer’s working day. Therefore, when advertising a remote internship, please include your time zone and working hours, so that the student can make an informed decision as to if they can apply.

How do I submit a remote internship?

As always, submitting a project will be done via our online platform, CareerConnect. Additionally, we will continue to advertise the internships, collate all applications and send them over to the employer in the same way as we have done previously.

Selection process

We encourage all hosts to undertake their interviews with their interns by telephone or via videoconference apps such as Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Remote internship case studies

Oxford Scholastica Academy

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?

We hosted six interns, who had two tasks: during the first half of the week, they focused on content creation and blog writing; in the second half of the week, they were tasked with researching and designing a brand new online course product for our Oxford summer school venture. They conducted market research, and in teams put together an operational and marketing strategy. This strategy is being implemented this week - so they were very successful! We were very impressed at all the interns' dedication, flexibility, and strategic insights.

How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?

We hosted daily, sometimes twice daily, Zoom video conferences in order for them to present their work, ask any questions, and receive their next brief. The interns also set up a group chat together in order to collaborate on the projects.

What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?

This internship was not originally intended to be remote, but had to be made so given the extraordinary circumstances. I think something is lost in the lack of in-person contact, but the quality of the interns' work has been as high as or higher than I would have expected for an in-person internship. I would recommend hosting a group of interns rather than just one as they have been able to collaborate very well and keep each other company during what might otherwise have been a less stimulating experience.

Quill Project

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?

The aim for the internships was to explore the application of the Quill technology and approach to modern Parliamentary process in the UK by modelling the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.

How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?

One of the innovative features of the project has been the creation of a digital environment in which undergraduate students are able to collaborate with each other and academic mentors on substantive research questions and the production of a digital edition, and we were able to capitalise on this technology to allow interns access to the Quill digital platform remotely. The Digital Curator had already prepared a training manual for their use, and at the beginning of the week, she ran an induction seminar via Zoom to give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and to demonstrate how to model legislation in the platform.

What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?

One aspect of remote internships which concerned us was how to develop relationships and generate a sense of camaraderie. We had two teams of three interns, with each team allocated to one of the Acts we were modelling that week. Each team also had their own Mattermost chatroom to communicate with each other and plan their work. Members of the Quill team had access to both chatrooms and were able to troubleshoot and answer questions as they came up. Once a day, the students would check in with the Digital Curator and sometimes other members of Quill over Zoom. At the end of the week, we were very happy with what had been achieved. Further modelling and corrections by the Quill team will be necessary before the models go live, but considerable progress was made. Feedback from the group was also very positive, with three interns volunteering to join a project to model the Covid-19 bill during their self-isolation and another expressing interest in a one-year trainee position we are currently advertising.  

University of Oxford and the National Trust

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?

A group of six interns undertook individual research projects on different National Trust properties to support the National Trust's 2021 public programme. The interns were each given a historic site and a list of key research questions which they answered by consulting a wide range of online archives and resources - from census records and historic newspapers to digitised books and journal articles. Each intern then created a detailed report which have been shared with National Trust property teams and curators. The interns were brilliant throughout the week and have submitted excellent reports.

How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?

We held three group videoconferences with the interns throughout the week to provide an opportunity for them to ask questions about the project, explore the themes, share tips and useful sources, and for general questions about careers in the heritage sector. We held a longer session on the Friday afternoon (1.5hrs) where each intern presented their key findings and reflections. We used Microsoft Teams for the calls which worked much better than Skype, especially for the students with issues around internet and VPN access abroad. We had a slight challenge with time zone differences (one student was in Dubai, one in China) but managed to schedule the calls at a time that everyone could join in.

What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?

I was really impressed by the interns' enthusiasm and the quality of work they produced despite the lack access to resources, the need for remote working and their geographical spread around the world and across time zones. They all contributed brilliantly to the group discussions via videoconference, and have produced excellent written reports which will inform future National Trust work. I'm very much looking forward to hosting another remote micro-internship next term. My top tips for hosting a remote placement are: Make sure you have a very clear brief and deliverable(s) shared with the interns ahead of the placement, and schedule regular group catchups which provide lots of time for questions as well as wider discussion. To view other projects that have been completed as remote internships in the past visit our website

 

 

 

 

The Summer Internship Programme

The host organisation on the Summer Internship Programme has the responsibility to:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship project(s) offered, including an overview of the duties and skills required of the ideal candidate(s)
  • The internships should only be for Oxford students who apply through the programme. You may advertise similar internships elsewhere, but those entered into the programme should be set aside with the intention of taking students from Oxford.
  • Select intern(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme.  Telephone (or face-to-face) interviews should be conducted, and direct contact established with potential interns. Reasonable travel expenses must be provided for face-to-face interviews.
  • Provide the internship project as described (or an appropriate alternative project, subject to prior discussion with the Internship Office and the student(s))
  • Provide intern(s) with an appropriate work-space and equipment necessary to carry out the internship project work
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the intern before their arrival, supervise the intern(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford
  • Provide the intern(s) with a stipend and/or other assistance (for example, accommodation), as agreed with the Internship Office prior to the start of the internship
  • Comply with local health and safety obligations in relation to the internship(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)
  • Where necessary, sponsor the student for a visa covering the duration of the placement
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the intern(s) at the end of the placement
  • Make any necessary and reasonable adjustments to accommodate interns in the case of disability or additional needs, in accordance with the the Equality Act 2010 and the University of Oxford Equality Policy.

Crankstart Internship Programme (formerly known as the Moritz-Heyman Internship Programme)

The host organisation on the Crankstart Internship Programme has the following responsibilities:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship project(s) offered, including an overview of the duties and skills required of the ideal candidate(s)
  • Select intern(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme.  Telephone (or face-to-face) interviews should be conducted, and direct contact established with potential interns. Reasonable travel expenses must be provided for face-to-face interviews.
  • Provide the internship project as described (or an appropriate alternative project subject to prior discussion with the University and the student(s))
  • Provide intern(s) with an appropriate work-space and equipment necessary to carry out the internship project work
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the intern before their arrival, supervise the intern(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford
  • Provide the intern(s) with a stipend and/or other assistance (for example, accommodation), as agreed with the Internship Office prior to the start of the internship
  • Comply with UK health and safety legislation in relation to the internship(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the intern(s) at the end of the placement.
  • Make any necessary and reasonable adjustments to accommodate interns in the case of disability or additional needs, in accordance with the the Equality Act 2010 and the University of Oxford Equality Policy.

Micro-Internship Programme

The host organisation on the Micro-Internship Programme have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship project(s) offered and the duties associated with it (them), including an overview of the skills required by the ideal candidate(s)
  • The internships should only be for Oxford students who apply through the programme. You may advertise similar internships/placements elsewhere, but those entered into the programme should be set aside with the intention of taking participants from Oxford.
  • Select participants(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme.  Telephone (or face-to-face) interviews should be conducted, and direct contact established with potential interns. Reasonable travel expenses must be provided for face-to-face interviews.
  • Provide the placement project as described (or an appropriate alternative project subject to prior discussion with the Internship Office and the student(s)/research staff)
  • Provide participants(s) with an appropriate work-space and equipment necessary to carry out the placement project work
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the participant before their arrival, supervise the participant(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford. Should the intern work remotely, please assure a similar level of supervision is provided (i.e regular telephone catch-up etc).
  • Provide the participant(s) with a stipend and/or other assistance (for example, accommodation), as agreed with the Internship Office prior to the start of the internship/placement. For Micro-internships this must be local travel expenses (within the relevant city) and lunch expenses for the duration of the internship/placement. All expenses are reimbursed only on submission of receipts. Please note this also applies for any micro-intern undertaking their placement remotely.
  • Comply with local health and safety obligations in relation to the internship/placement(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)/placement(s)
  • Where necessary, sponsor the intern for a visa covering the duration of the placement
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the participant(s) at the end of the placement.
  • Make any necessary and reasonable adjustments to accommodate the participants in the case of disability or additional needs, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and the University of Oxford Equality Policy.
  • All micro-internships must be limited to a maximum of 5 days. Any further relationship between external (outside of the University of Oxford) hosts and interns should be arranged separately and directly between host and participant; it is expected that students or research staff would be remunerated if engaged on a full internship/placement or to undertake work. Hosts within the University of Oxford must contact the Internship Office before offering any role or full internship to a participant.
  • Please note that the Micro-Internship Programme is open to all matriculated students, including those who have suspended their studies for the time being. More information can be found on students who have suspended their studies here.
  • Please note that it is the responsibility of the host organisation to ensure that it complies with employment law in engaging the participant including (where applicable) the payment of National Minimum Wage. We assume, if the micro-internship or micro-placement is advertised as unpaid, that the host organisation has done an appropriate assessment and concluded that the opportunity can lawfully be offered on an unpaid basis.
  • University departments who are offering unpaid micro-internships or micro-placements should ensure that they provide the participant with a volunteer agreement (template agreement available from the Careers’ Service) and only reimburse travel expenses and reasonable lunch costs on submission of receipts from the micro-intern. No other payments or benefits should be offered.

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