Internships and pay, some fresh facts


An article by Breda O’Brien in last week’s Irish Times revisited the thorny, and sometimes emotive, issue of unpaid internships. Branding them ‘wrong’, O’Brien went on to say; “what’s shocking is how many of our bright, talented children have come to accept the concept of working for nothing, when they should be mad as hell.”


There is bad news and good news when it comes to unpaid internships. The bad news is that yes, unsurprisingly, they do exist and there are graduates and jobseekers out there getting exploited by unscrupulous companies. The good news is that there is evidence that such cases are declining in number, employers value good interns and are more and more willing to pay them. How do we know this? Because we talked to a wide range of companies as part of our soon to be released 2014 gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey and the results point to an ever changing dynamic in the relationship between internship and employer.


But let’s first look at the broader internships issue. In the current jobs market; internships, or work experience as it used to be known, are accepted as an integral part of graduate recruitment for the majority of employers. Many companies use work experience to source good talent at an early stage and even when recruitment may be minimised or frozen, many companies do continue to recruit for internships. Of the leading graduate employers who we talked to, 81% offer internships, an overwhelming majority, but down from the 87% in last year’s survey. 35.5% of those who are recruiting interns expect to increase their intake this year.


Percentage of employers offering work experience

Percentage of employers offering work experience

Interestingly, only 10.4% of employers we surveyed did not pay their interns. In more good news, of the 89.6% who do pay for internships (up from 86% last year), our 2014 results show that pay scales are rising. The median pay for interns now stands at between €1,400 and €1,599, with almost 40% of the companies in our survey paying at this level. Indeed the higher pay scales for interns have jumped significantly. Last year only 8.2% of companies paid interns between €1,800 and €1,999, this year it is 15.6%. In 2013, only 4.1% paid their interns over €2,000, this year that figure jumped to 10.9%. At the lower end of the scale there have also been significant developments. Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed last year paid their interns less than €1,000 per month, this year that figure has dropped to just 4.7%, a dramatic fall.


Rates of pay for internships

Rates of pay for internships

The ‘JobBridge’ scheme has come in for withering criticism over recent times, much of it justified owing to, again, the actions of some unscrupulous employers. We found that while it remains popular, less than half of the employers (46%) we talked to were planning to participate in the scheme. We also found that almost all employers (97%) placed a clear distinction between internship programmes and JobBridge schemes, and did not use JobBridge recruits to replace existing interns.


While this research only provides a snapshot, it does include feedback from over 15 major sectors of Irish business and industry. So, if you’re a graduate considering an internship, what questions should you be asking? Firstly, make sure you know what you are going in to. Is it a structured internship, is there an induction, training and development programme in place? Will you be mentored during your internship? These are vital supports for graduates, and induction programmes are offered by 91.2% of the companies gradireland surveyed. If a company can provide you with structured training and development, you may need to be prepared to work for a lower rate of pay, or even unpaid, for a period of time. I would say that you need to consider this in the broader context of your career path, and if you feel that the training and development which you will receive is something that you can’t get elsewhere. If a company is investing their time in developing your skills, that is worth something, it will boost your employability skills and those skills are what employers are looking for. A graduate jobseeker needs to show that they are active and effective, and thankfully it is increasingly common to be paid whilst gaining this experience.

For more information on internships, read our advice here

Look the part and be smart on LinkedIn to stand out from the crowd

As a worthwhile tool for graduates and jobseekers, the importance of LinkedIn can really not be overstated. Although it’s been around for quite some time, its power as an enabler for applicants and recruiters is still growing.  Paul McClatchie, Director at Careers Register (the Financial & Legal Recruitment arm of Cpl Resources Plc), talks to gradireland about the difference a good LinkedIn Profile can make and where it sits within the recruitment process. 


Paul Mc - Feb 14 seated

Online recruitment and applications processes have come a long way in recent years. gradireland’s own data shows that more and more companies are eschewing the traditional CV and cover letter in favour of online applications. Recruiters are always looking for well curated, impressively written applications, and are constantly looking for candidates that differentiate themselves and offer that little bit extra. This is where LinkedIn comes in. “For us, it’s a way of speeding up the recruitment process, it’s a very useful enabler for us when searching for a candidate with specific skills or qualifications or who has completed a certain course. It’s also very important for candidates to remember that employers themselves will very often look at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, so it’s important that it looks professional, current and comprehensive,” says Paul.

Before you start, why not create a ‘word cloud’ of your skills and attributes from your CV and highlight the ones that you want to jump out at recruiters on your LinkedIn profile. “It’s a good exercise to create a blueprint for the sort of image you want to create and it also gives you the opportunity to think about what skills you have and, also, what gaps you may need to fill,” adds Paul.

So what sort of LinkedIn profile can make you seem like the right fit to recruiters? You’ve probably heard of an ‘all-star’ LinkedIn profile, but what exactly is this?

Photo:  “Well it starts with a good picture. LinkedIn is different to other social networks; it’s a professional network, so pictures should reflect this. It’s not necessary to be formal, but smart, relaxed and smiling is what I like to see. People are less likely to look at your profile if you don’t have a photograph or if the photo is inappropriate. Remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. This is the image of yourself that you want to convey to the professional world.”

Headline: “Describe yourself and what you’re looking for. Customise your headline to reflect the opportunities you’re seeking. Don’t just have ‘college graduate.’ Instead, something like “Commerce graduate with business experience seeking opportunities in corporate finance.”

Summary: “Ensure this is complete and matches your own timeline of education and employment. The tone should be conversational and engaging, while remaining professional.”

Reverse engineer your profile: “Find out what skills people working in the industry in which you want to work have. Then try to match as many of your skills as possible to make your profile seem appealing to employers. It’s not a case of creating an impression of something you’re not, but instead it’s a curating process to tailor your profile for the industry in which you want to work.”

Post content: “Get involved. Whether it’s posting relevant content of work you’ve done on your profile or contributing to discussions, interaction shows initiative and communication skills. Join relevant groups and if there is a discussion ongoing, join in. Post frequently if you feel you can make a contribution, it increases your visibility on LinkedIn searches.”

Connect responsibly: “LinkedIn is a professional network and there is a level of etiquette as to how you should connect, or request to connect, with somebody. It’s important that you don’t seem too familiar. For example, don’t try and connect with someone from a company with which you have an interview. It can be off-putting. Also, when you do connect with someone, personalise the connection by sending them a brief message, as simple as: ‘nice to connect with you and good to see you at the event this morning. Look forward to staying in touch in the future.’”



There are plenty of other ways you can make your profile stand out. Do some research on the sector you want to work in and look at good profiles in that sector. Use some keywords in your own profile as keywords are how many recruiters are searching for candidates on the platform. “It’s important not to overstate LinkedIn’s importance, a poor profile is not a deal breaker for a very good candidate and a good profile is not going to save a very poor application. But it’s a tool that can add depth to a candidate and provide information that may increase their attractiveness to employers,” adds Paul.

Join the discussion on LinkedIn at gradireland’s Graduate Careers Network

The ‘perfect’ grad: what’s the right mix?

Earlier this year, a range of employers, academics and students met in DIT Cathal Brugha Street to discuss and formulate the attributes that they consider most important in a graduate recruit. This event was part of DIT’s ‘Enhancing Employability’ initiative. The desired qualities which emerged from the presentations and discussions were wide ranging, and though some are obvious, others are surprising. Check out the infographic below, and let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree?

For more on what employers are looking for in graduate recruits, read here.



Creating a first impression: is it what you say or how you act?

Recruiters and employers constantly speak of the necessity of creating a positive first impression, and to use the cliche, they do indeed last. But what makes a first impression, is it your words or your actions, how you speak or how you appear? David Keane, a corporate psychologist with Davitt Corporate Partners, a Dublin-based consultancy, created the infographic below to synopsise the data gathered from over 2000 business leaders as to how they gauge an interview candidate and what you should or should not do during the interview process. Some of the results are surprising.

  • For example, according to this data, first impressions are made within 7-17 seconds of meeting someone. So, if you don’t make a good first impression, are you on the back-foot in an interview before it has even begun
  • 93% of people’s judgements are not based on what you say but how you act and what your body language says about you. So, while you may have hidden depths and skills that could be of enormous benefit to the company, if you don’t make a confident impression initially, you’ll never get the chance to show them.
  • 33% of the managers interviewed for this data said that they had made a decision as to whether they would hire a person within 90 seconds of meeting them.
  • 55% of first impressions were formed by the way a person walked through the door, what their demeanour was like and how they dressed, with 38% saying they formed an impression based on the person’s tone of voice.

There’s plenty more information, have a look for yourself:



Convergence & change: why graduates and employers need to adapt  

John Herlihy addressing the 2014 gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards

John Herlihy addressing the 2014 gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards

John Herlihy, Vice President at Google, writes on the speed of change and evolution in today’s workplace, and why companies need to be transparent and dynamic to realise the potential of today’s graduates.

The keynote speech at the 2014 gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards was delivered by John Herlihy, Vice President at Google. Speaking to a room of employers, academics and key influencers in the sphere of graduate recruitment, John spoke of a workplace which is increasingly dominated by the age of convergence.

“Today, we are not so much surprised by change, but the speed of change. Innovation that previously took a generation to happen can now occur in weeks and months,” he said, referring to the massive leaps in technology apparent in today’s world, made possible by convergence. In this context, convergence of the data, technology and, most importantly, the human context, are amplified by the mobile and online revolution, which has ‘flattened the earth’ and achieved in seven years that which took the printing press 400 years and telephone 50 years to achieve. John referred to the current graduates as ‘millennials’, a connected and expectant generation in a world in which mobile devices will soon outstrip the population of the planet, and even toothbrush ownership!

The ‘millennial’ generation

The speech made the point that today’s graduates have grown up in this world, this is not new to them. It is indeed employers who possess the greater challenge in understanding the mindset and expectations of millennials when they are recruiting.

As he explained; “They (millennials) are taking the traits of the convergence economy and are expecting them to be evident in the workplace…..they care less about titles, status and salary….are more interested in the ‘network’ than the hierarchy….are more interested in projects that connect with their strengths and abilities and expect managers to support them through this progression.”

It was interesting to hear the head of one of the country’s largest employers speak of today’s graduates ‘choosing who they want to work for’ and how they do that work. “Graduates expect to know in real-time what is going on in the organisation. They want clear objectives set. They expect access to information. They expect regular reviews rather than annual appraisals. They want the workplace to be a social enterprise, focused on collaboration, where the best ideas win rather than concern about where they originated from.”

Challenges for employers 

So what questions do the expectations and attitudes of the ‘millennial’ generation pose for employers? Does the world of convergence mean that the traditional company/employee dynamic is inherently changed forever? As Herlihy said to employers in his speech: “will you even have employees in ten years’ time? Or will you be fortunate enough to attract talent and be allocated time by the smartest talent out there?”

John also spoke of need for employers to build an organisation in which transparency, trust and reputation are forged as an inherent part of the company’s culture. Graduates demand trust and disclosure and employers need to create a culture that holds the diverse nature of an organisation together. Employers also need to know their employees, their aspirations and their needs. “In this age of convergence, you have an opportunity to use technology and data to really understand how to best foster and grow your talented people, assigning them the most challenging and rewarding work in your organisation,” he said.

He made another interesting point referring to the need for companies to have ‘building blocks’ in place before further innovation can take place, and that employers would need to convince graduates of the “need to have fundamental ‘hard skills’ in place. Speed alone will not solve many problems. I believe we need a strong focus on hard skills in the first instance.”

Closing his speech, he added that while the future is unknown, the best companies will be prepared for it, successfully blending internal and external knowledge to fill talent gaps and enhance their competitive position. He concluded with a message to both graduates and employers; “Let’s remember that it is not the fittest that survive and thrive, but those who best adapt to the environment they find themselves operating in.”

gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014

The winners at the gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014. (All photos by Paul Kelly)

The winners at the gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014. (All photos by Paul Kelly)


Wednesday April 30th saw the 8th annual gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards held in Dublin’s Mansion House. With graduate recruitment experiencing a significant resurgence amongst some of Ireland’s most significant companies, the event was the perfect place for industry leaders, employers, academics and course providers to mix, network and gauge the shape of graduate recruitment today in Ireland. Before the awards, John Herlihy, Head of Google Ireland, made the evening’s keynote address and spoke of the opportunities for today’s graduates in a rapidly changing job landscape and the challenges for employers to remain relevant to a diversifying and ever-changing graduate demographic.

Hosted by RTE’s Brian Dobson, the awards saw 30 presentations made on the evening, the focus of the winning submissions on optimism, creativity and programmes which deliver real career paths for today’s best and most ambitious graduates. It was a particularly special evening for Jameson (Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard), winning awards in 5 categories and emerging with the much coveted ‘Employer of the Year’ award. Other awards were scooped by employers such as Stryker for their professional training and development programmes, Enterprise Rent-A-Car for diversity in the workplace and KPMG for their internships and work experience opportunities. Other major winners included Deloitte, Lidl, Accenture, Amazon, Intel, Bank of Ireland and Aer Lingus.

The Jameson team picking up one of their many awards on the evening.

The Jameson team picking up one of their many awards on the evening.

The awards voted for by students saw several new names break into the 2014 list of gradireland’s Top 100 Graduate Employers, including Jameson and Lidl ranking in the top ten for the first time. Google retained top spot as the most popular graduate recruiter and also picked up the award for the Most Popular Recruiter in IT.

Recognising the quality of the applications received, seven of the most hotly contested judged awards also saw bronze and silver places awarded, with EY and Accenture claiming several on the night. Niall Fitzgerald of Abbott Ireland was named Graduate Employee of the Year and the evening also showcased the achievements of Ava Mahony, winner of the gradireland National Student Challenge 2014.

RTE's Brain Dobson alongside gradireland National Student Challenge winner Ava O'Mahony and gradireland Commercial Manager Gavan O'Brien.

RTE’s Brian Dobson alongside gradireland National Student Challenge winner Ava O’Mahony and gradireland Commercial Manager Gavan O’Brien.

In addition to recognising employers and graduate employees, the awards also recognise the contribution made by course providers. In association with gradireland’s official partners AHECS (Association of Higher Education Careers Services), the evening saw recognition of some of the most dynamic courses provided by some of the country’s most innovative higher educational institutions. Congratulations in particular to University College Cork for taking home two awards in the Postgraduate Course of the Year category. The event, the largest yet, had a great blend of established graduate recruiters and those who are relatively new to the sector or who are seeking to refine their processes. As with everything that gradireland does, the awards seek to reflect the positive aspirations of today’s graduates and blend that optimism with the creativity and dynamism of some of the country’s best employers. Discussion, networking and socialising was the order of the evening, laced with stiff competition, with 168 companies and educational institutions represented at the awards and only 30 scooped awards, so there most definitely was not one for everyone in the audience. Companies shortlisted for the first time will be no doubt seeking to hone their submissions for the 2015 event, and the winners on the night will know that they will need to keep adding to and improving their own offerings to retain their awards next year.

The full list of winners (and silver and bronze awards) at the gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014:


Most popular graduate recruiter in accountancy and professional services

Winner:  Deloitte


Most popular graduate recruiter in banking, investment & financial services

Winner: Bank of Ireland Group


Most popular graduate recruiter in consulting

Winner: Accenture


Most popular graduate recruiter in engineering

Winner: Intel


Most popular FMCG graduate recruiter.

Winner: Jameson – Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard


Most popular graduate recruiter in IT

Winner: Google


Most popular graduate recruiter in law.

Winner: A&L Goodbody


Most popular graduate recruiter in logistics, transport & supply chain management

Winner: Aer Lingus


Most popular graduate recruiter in online retail services and telecoms

Winner: Amazon


Most popular graduate recruiter in retail

Winner: Lidl


Most popular graduate recruiter in science.

Winner: Abbott Ireland


Ireland’s most popular graduate recruiter 2014.

Winner: Google


Best graduate recruitment website.

Winner: Jameson – Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard

Silver: Enterprise Rent A Car

Bronze: PwC


Best Innovation on Campus

Winner: Deloitte Data Analytics Lab

Silver: EY

Bronze: Accenture


Best work experience or internship programme.

Winner: KPMG

Silver: Abbott Ireland

Bronze: EY



gradireland diversity recruitment award

Winner: Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Silver: Accenture

Bronze: Dell


Best Student Marketing Campaign

Winner: Jameson – Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard

Silver: EY

Bronze: Accenture


Best Graduate Training and Development Programmes. Professional

Winner: Stryker

Silver: Deloitte

Bronze: KPMG


Best Graduate Training and Development Programmes Business

Winner: Jameson – Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard

Silver: Stryker

Bronze: Kerry


Postgraduate Course of the Year for Business

Winner: MSc in Marketing Practice, NUI Galway


Postgraduate Course of the Year for IT

Winner: MBS in Information Systems for Business Performance, University College Cork.


Postgraduate Course of the Year for Science and Engineering

Winner: Masters in Information Technology in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, University College Cork


Best New Course

Winner: MSc in Translational Oncology Trinity College Dublin


graduate Employee of the Year

Winner: Niall Fitzgerald Abbott Ireland


gradireland Graduate Employer of the Year

Jameson – Irish Distiller Pernod Ricard




How to make a summer internship work for you

It is no secret that work experience is highly valued by employers from almost any industry. A survey illustrated in gradireland’s Top 100 Leading Graduate Employers, reveals that 30.1 per cent of employers consider relevant work experience as an applicant requirement. Summer internships are a great way to gain valuable experience and strengthen your CV without disrupting your studies. Taking the time out of your summer to intern demonstrates drive, ambition and a willingness to learn, qualities that will impress employers. If you take full advantage of the experience, display determination, test your skills and knowledge and attempt to network and establish industry contacts, a summer internship could determine your future career path.

Maurese Gargan, Theoretical Physics student at TCD, gives us an insight into her summer internship experience in EY’s Risk Advisory Department.

MaureseGargan (2)

Maurese Gargan


At the beginning of my third year studying Theoretical Physics, I knew that I didn’t want to pursue an academic career. Instead, I hoped I could leverage the skills I had developed with my degree, such as problem solving and data analytics, and find a suitable career in the professional services industry. I was aware that careers in management consulting and advisory were well suited to people with strong problem solving skills, but I didn’t know much else about working in the field. I felt that an internship would be a good way to see if a job in professional services would suit my skills and personality.

My internship experience

I attended gradireland’s Graduate Careers Fair at the RDS and after speaking with the student recruitment team from EY, I knew it was the company for me! The application process and interview were made as straightforward as possible for me and, thankfully, I was a successful candidate. I was given a place on the 12 week summer internship in the Risk Advisory department in the Dublin EY office, and it was the beginning of the summer of a lifetime!

Coming from a “non-traditional” background into an accountancy firm left me a little nervous on my first day. I was worried that my lack of business knowledge would leave me at a disadvantage, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the other 42 summer interns were also from “unusual” degree courses. However, we were all provided with comprehensive training during our first week at the firm, so it turned out that my degree background was irrelevant because nobody was left in the dark.

Once I joined my service line, Advisory, I was made feel a part of the team. The Advisory management team made the interns feel very welcome and encouraged us to ask as many questions as we could. The partners and directors of the department sat on the same floor as everybody, so they were always approachable and happy to give us advice. I was allocated a “buddy” who I could bombard with silly questions and turn to if I needed help. I also had a counsellor who helped me to plan my 12 weeks, to set my goals and to ensure that I was reaching my potential during my internship. I was given work to do almost immediately and was well and truly thrown in at the deep end; completing client facing assignments, attending client meetings and working with senior members of the Advisory department. Although the work was something I had never done before, help was always available and ultimately the responsibility I had been given made it a valuable learning experience.

As well as all of the Advisory work, I also had many opportunities to work in other areas of the firm. I was able to work with the student recruitment team, the marketing department and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year team. I also completed a business challenge with six other summer interns from different departments. It gave us exposure to many areas within the firm and helped us to understand the inner workings of a large organisation.

The highlight of my internship, however, was definitely attending the EY International Intern Leadership Conference (IILC) in Disney World Florida. Alongside 2,300 of my intern colleagues from all over the world, I had the opportunity to attend leadership workshops, to experience large scale team building activities and meet the global CEO, Mr. Mark Weinberger. The week long event was also an incredible networking experience where I made international EY friends and also learned to appreciate how my input in the Dublin firm can affect the firm’s performance on a global level. The IILC taught me that even in large multinational corporations, every contribution is important.


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Maurese Gargan (left) with EY’s CEO Mark Weinberger (right)

My future

At the end of my 12 weeks, I was able to interview for a graduate position. After such a wonderful intern experience, I had absolutely no doubts that EY was where I wanted to start my career. Thankfully, the Advisory department felt that I had made a good impression and that I was the right fit for a graduate placement, starting September 2014. Since returning to college for 4th year, EY have given me the opportunity to work with them in their recruitment campaign and have continued to support me through my final year studies.  My summer internship experience ultimately launched my career into the professional services industry, and has adequately prepared me for my graduate placement with EY.

For further information and advice on internships and work placements, please visit

gradireland’s annual Summer Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to talk to individual employers about internships and work placements. 

For more information on the fair, please visit


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