Internships after you graduate

If you haven't found a job straight after university, find out about graduate management programmes, internships for graduates, and your rights as an intern.

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If you have already graduated and are finding it hard to get onto the career ladder, casual or temporary jobs are a good way to gain experience while looking for something more permanent. Never underestimate any work experience you have done. Instead, find a way of showing what you learned from it and how you can bring those skills to roles that you are applying for after university.

There are several organisations that provide opportunities to get work experience after you graduate, and even provide management training as part of the programme. There are also an increasing number of schemes aimed at providing graduates with internships (paid or unpaid) to bridge the gap between leaving university and finding their first graduate job.

Graduate management programmes

  • Enterprise Ireland's International Graduate Programme : a two-year programme in international business.
  • IBEC Export Orientation Programme : the EOP provides paid placements for graduates wanting to work in international business. The EOP is typically twelve months’ duration, usually with a minimum of six months spent outside of Ireland.
  • Graduate Acceleration Programme : Programme organised by Business in the Community, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster. Offers up to six months’ work experience plus the chance to study for a qualification.
  • InterTradeIreland FUSION : All-island programme pairing science, engineering and technology graduates with small businesses looking for growth. Includes a postgraduate diploma in Management Practice.

Internships for graduates

Historically, graduate employers offered internships to students during university but internships after graduation are now increasingly available (and not always from traditional ‘graduate employers’). Many of these are formalised through government programmes that link graduates with employers. The benefit to employers is the chance to get a well-qualified and motivated workforce when their permanent recruitment is being frozen because of financial constraints. The benefits for you are a chance to learn about life in a particular job or sector while developing employability skills that will help your future job applications.

Internships are often easier to find during a downturn than full-time jobs, as companies that are struggling to afford permanent staff may hire interns to help them to tackle excess workload. These can be an excellent way to gain experience and new skills in a challenging jobs market. However, some internship schemes have been controversial, and you need to weigh up whether a particular placement will give you the skills that you need.

Your rights and benefits as an intern

All interns in Ireland have basic employment rights, including the right to adequate breaks and holidays and the right to join a union. Eligibility for the national minimum wage depends on the nature of your work and relationship with the organisation providing the internship. Official internship or work experience schemes may be exempt from minimum wage laws.

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