Students and recent graduates are striving to secure internships and graduate schemes as they attempt to kick start their careers.  This comes as ONS data shows record levels of unemployment with young people hardest hit as employers scale back on recruitment opportunities.

Meanwhile insurer Zurich reports a 90% surge in applications for its paid internships and graduate scheme as students bank on work experience to enhance their prospects in the tough economic climate.

Zurich is currently recruiting for its internship intake while its graduate programme has just closed for applicants – with both offering the same number of placements as in 2020.

Since launching its recruitment drive last month, applications for both programmes have doubled.  In just five weeks, the insurer received 80% of the applications that were submitted over last year’s five-month campaign.

Of the interns who completed placements this year, 75% have secured places on Zurich’s graduate scheme starting in September 2021.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said: “With the pandemic casting a shadow over the jobs market as a whole, competition for graduate jobs is even more intense.  Students are vying for fewer opportunities, so they really need to ensure they practise and prepare for the screening stages. We use video interviewing as part of our process, so making sure you are comfortable, articulate, and true to yourself, is key.  We’ve seen applications for internships and our graduate scheme soar as students look to jump the jobs queue and gain valuable experience to set them apart from the pack.

“Completing a successful internship will help students to build their skills, network and employability – which will be even more crucial in an economic downturn. It also enables candidates to explore career paths they may not have considered, such as data science and automation where many opportunities exist.”

The insurer’s ten-week paid summer internship is designed to give candidates hands on experience and a strong understanding of how the business works.  The scheme is now open to applications. Zurich’s graduate programme runs for three years, made up of 6-month rotations across chosen business functions.   Applications for 2021 have now closed.

For both programmes, Zurich offers opportunities across business management, actuarial, finance, data and analytics and change and technology functions.

Collinson added: “Young people are the future of our business. We honoured all the offers we extended to graduates and interns in our 2020 intake and are running both schemes in 2021 as planned.  We are committed to building a pipeline of talent and our focus on ‘early careers’ remains a top priority.”

 Top tips to land an internship

  1. Computer says ‘no’ – with thousands of applications to review, many recruiters have an auto screen out if question are answered incorrectly.  Take care to answer the screening questions correctly.
  2. Research the company – show the firm that you know what they do, the markets they operate in and the wider industry challenges they face.
  3. Prepare, prepare, prepare – with interviews taking place online, get comfortable using Teams or Zoom to communicate.  Positivity and enthusiasm go a long way.  It can be harder to convey these feelings in a video interview so think about how you are coming across.
  4. Structure your answers – use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action Result) to answer a question or a similar well-known format.  But above all make sure you answer the question and don’t skirt around it.  Don’t use the same example for each question.  It’s fine to draw on personal experiences too.
  5. Don’t give up – if you aren’t successful in securing an internship, try work shadowing for a week.  This also demonstrates commitment, and is a great way to build up your network and industry knowledge

 

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.