Social Mobiliy Foundation logo

Hosting an SMF Internship: FAQs

What is an SMF internship?

SMF internships are short, one – two week work tasters that take place after students have finished their first year of sixth form (making them 16 or 17 years old). They are not the lengthy opportunities that some employers may be used to – we just use the word ‘internship’ to avoid the connotations of school ‘work experience’ spent making tea and photocopying!

Your organisation would take one or more SMF students on an internship, usually over a week or two during the summer holidays or October half term.

Please note that our students are interested in entering one of the following professions: Accountancy, Architecture, Banking & Finance, Biology & Chemistry, Business, Digital, Engineering & Physics, Law, Media & Communications, Medicine, or Politics. If your organisation slots neatly into one of these sectors, that’s great. If you’re unsure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch anyway as you may still be able to help.

Why provide an SMF internship?

By working with the SMF to provide a short one – two week internship, you will be supporting a high-achieving young person (predicted at least ABB at A-Level or ABBB at Higher, with at least 4 or 5 A grades at GCSE or A/B Grades at National 5) who is passionate about gaining a real insight into your sector.

Our students are either eligible for Free School Meals, or are in the first generation in their family to attend university, having attended a school with a high percentage of pupils on Free School Meals. The students we support would not usually be able to secure vital work experience as their schools and families do not have experience of or connections with the professions and sectors we work in. In 2016 over 90% of students we worked with said that they would not have secured their internship without the support of the SMF.

Hosting an SMF student on an internship can really help your organisation, too: 89% of employers who work with us say that we allow them to engage with students they wouldn’t reach via their traditional recruitment processes, and 100% of employers who worked with us in 2015 would recommend hosting an internship and the SMF to other employers.

Where can we host a student on an SMF internship?

In your workplace, if it is located in one of our six target cities (Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle) or within roughly one hour’s commute of a target city.

What activities do SMF students typically undertake on an internship?

We are not prescriptive about the tasks that students undertake at your workplace. Usually, students are introduced to the organisation before being given some tasks. These could be anything, ranging from a small project to complete and present to senior individuals at the end of the internship, to shadowing yourself or a colleague and accompanying them to meetings or visits, if possible. You could also rotate students around the different departments of a larger organisation to help them understand the breadth of roles available. We are always on hand to help with ideas! The most important thing is that the internship is structured, so the student gains a real insight into your profession.

Can we select the student(s)?

As the young people we work with tend not to have the same ability to sell themselves as their more privileged peers, we tend to discourage selection on the part of the host organisation. The students undergo an extensive application process before being accepted onto our programme, and all of their interactions with us are monitored and recorded to help us decide which student is most suitable to be placed at your organisation.

Can we meet the student before the internship starts?

Yes – it can actually be helpful if this happens. We just need to know when and where the meeting is taking place and have consent from the students’ parents/guardians.

Do we have to pay the student(s)?

No. Occasionally organisations do opt to pay the student(s) they host, but this is not a requirement. We do ask that organisations cover local travel expenses if possible.

What about risk assessment/safeguarding/DBS/PVG checks, etc?

The SMF provides a risk assessment and safeguarding policy to ensure that the organisation involved is aware of the relevant risks and the precautions that can be taken to safeguard the student. Employees of the organisation are not required to be DBS or PVG checked before an internship takes place.

These students will be under 18 – do we need a particular type of insurance for them?

No. The students should be covered by your organisation’s existing public liability insurance.

Our Employer Relations Team is on hand at to answer any further questions you may have, and we are happy to help you think of ways you can best present your profession to our students.