Living Wage Week 2020: Internships during lockdown

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the world of work as we know it. Like many other businesses, we have been working remotely since March and we have had to adapt how we operate. Face-to-face meetings have been replaced and calls and video catch-ups have become the norm for communicating with our clients and colleagues alike. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is our need for fresh talent.

Our communications internships

We are committed to offering opportunities to graduates embarking on a career in communications; we aim to recruit interns annually and ensure this is built into our resourcing and budgeting plan. We are proud that, despite the pandemic, we were able to offer several internship roles this year, and hope to do so again in 2021.

Our interns are all paid above the Living Wage and join us for 12 months. They receive clear job descriptions and guidance on the role, and are given responsibilities as they enhance their skills, knowledge and experience.

When joining us, our interns receive a full and thorough induction – though this year our inductions have, of course, been virtual.

As part of our commitment to Continuing Professional Development, all interns are set probation objectives and their learning and development opportunities are identified. They are also offered the chance to join the PRCA or CIPR after probation – all funded by Freshwater.

We usually meet potential interns in person, but this year we have had to adapt, taking all of our recruitment processes online.

Commenting on how we’ve adopted online methods for recruitment, HR Director, Sarah Whittle, said: “Recruiting, onboarding and managing the probation process online has been a new and exciting challenge for us at Freshwater.

“While maintaining our high standards, we have made a conscious effort to embrace and embed virtual ways of working so that new and existing employees stay connected through the crisis.

“It is really important to us that those on our internship programme feel part of the team quickly, so our online group induction process and buddy system has been key. We also hold daily virtual team catch ups and plenty of health and wellbeing activities – from themed lunches, afternoon teas and mid-morning coffee catch ups to yoga, fitness and book club sessions.

“During the pandemic, the platform to develop and support our interns may have changed, but our enthusiasm and commitment remains as strong as ever.”

Our latest intern: Caitlin Pugh

Caitlin Pugh, who graduated with a degree in Media, Journalism & Culture from Cardiff University in 2019, joined Freshwater on 26 October 2020. She said:

“As you can imagine, looking for work is harder than it’s ever been before. A lot of people my age have been made redundant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I was lucky enough to be offered a first stage interview for the internship role here at Freshwater at the beginning of October.

“It goes without saying that interviews are nerve-wracking and a little bit scary – you’ve got to sell yourself and make sure that you come across as the best possible candidate for the role, but the tricky thing now, is that we’ve got to do it over a computer screen.

“With the interview being held remotely, I was worried about how I would get my personality across enough, which is something I think is very important. And it’s hard when you can’t see someone’s body language and mannerisms. However, I was made to feel very welcome and at ease throughout.

“After two interviews and an online test, I must have done the trick; I was proud as a punch when I received my offer letter for the internship role; I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

“When you picture your first day at a new job you see yourself walking into the office, finding your desk and meeting lots of new people. But in the current climate it’s not safe to do so, so it’s back to the computer screen for now. Initially, I was quite nervous to meet my new colleagues in the virtual world but within my first week it almost became second nature. Everyone I have met so far has been super nice, helpful and very understanding of how difficult it must be starting a new job in this strange way.

“My first week at Freshwater has exceeded my expectations. I know the industry to be fast-paced and exciting and that’s exactly what I’ve experienced. Among inductions, introductions and team chats, I have successfully landed a broadcast interview and had coverage in WalesOnline for one of our clients. I have learned so much in my first week and look forward to the rest of my Freshwater journey.”

About Living Wage Week 2020

Living Wage Week 2020, which takes place 9 – 15 November, is going digital with all events being hosted online.

The Living Wage rates for 2020/21 were announced on Monday 9 November, with the UK rate now set at £9.50 per hour, and the London Living Wage at £10.85 per hour. 

We continue to be a Living Wage Employer and were among the founding signatories of the PRCA’s campaign to end the practice of unpaid internships.

To learn more about careers at Freshwater, and to view our available internships and vacancies, visit our careers page.