Diversity in Internships: What to Look Out For

Getting a new job can be a daunting experience. Therefore, if you are about to leave university and considering your next steps – why not try an internship to get your foot on the career ladder?

An internship is a programme run by companies to invite young, fresh talent into their workforce to gain paid work experience in their desired industry. However, just like any other job role, you may beconcerned about whether these programmes welcome diversity as a way of creating a more welcomingand inclusive environment.

The good news is, that many employers are now recognising the importance of diversity and are keen to integrate key practices into their everyday business procedures. If, however, diversity is of high importance to you when applying for internships, this guide will give you some helpful tips on what to look out for during the application process.

The company calls out unacceptable behaviour

One of the key aspects to look out for when applying for jobs is to determine whether the company takes serious action against inappropriate behaviour. It is the employer’s duty to protect employees by introducing consequences for unacceptable conduct as part of a zero-tolerance policy. While it can be
difficult to know how situations are handled before you’re hired, it may be wise to ask the employer casually how they handle such situations to work out whether it’s an opportunity you wish to pursue.

Has a diverse range of employees

One of the key signs that demonstrates whether a workplace invites diversity is to get a feel for the employees who work there. Browsing the company’s ‘about page’ on their website may display photos
and descriptions of current employees. However, some employers ensure to add a disability disclaimer at the bottom of job adverts which shows a company’s dedication to creating an inclusive workplace.

Offers flexible working opportunities

Gone are the days when employees were expected to come to the office and work on a 9-5 basis. Since the pandemic, it has become more apparent that flexible working opportunities are much more suitable for certain individuals. While flexible working may not be the common procedure within the company, having your reasons heard as to why this would be more appropriate for your situation is a clear sign as
to whether the employer understands the importance of diversity.

Many internship programmes are now far more flexible concerning working hours, while some even allow interns to work on a remote basis to fit around their personal commitments. Therefore, if you have children or have a disability that makes it difficult to work the typical hours or even get into the office at all, checking that there are flexible working opportunities in place is a key question to ask during the interview.

The position is paid

One of the major issues that internships faced was the fact that many employers refused to pay their
interns. However, after much debate and scrutiny, unpaid internships are now less common, which means you can wave goodbye to working for free. What’s more, it’s also essential that the company promotes equal pay for all genders.

If you’re considering applying for an internship, but are hesitant about the diversity practices that may be in place, this guide should give you some helpful aspects to keep an eye out for to ensure you’ll feel valued in your new position.

Guest article by Laura Bill, Inspiring interns & graduates


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