Corporate Social Responsibility – your Company is Never Too Small.

If you haven’t yet heard of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) you may want to have a read of this blog post first before reading on.  

During the course of my work I meet a wide variety of different companies who all work in different sectors, are of varying sizes and in diverse locations, but one thing I hear on a regular basis is ‘we don’t have the capacity to take on an Intern / we don’t have time to train anyone new’.  This disappoints me for many reasons, but mainly because I firmly believe that no matter how small your company is, there is always time to enable someone else to learn from your experiences.  

 I was recently asked to contribute to Brighton Chamber’s blog on this very topic, as part of a series of blog posts looking at alternative options to full-time employment.

The Blue Penguin Company is small – we have fewer than 5 permanent employees, yet we make time for those starting out in their careers (or those thinking about which careers they would like to be starting out in) because we recognise the importance of investing in young people.  Organisations like Sussex Chamber of Commerce recognise this importance too, they recognise it so much, they even have a special award for it.

I am honoured to be included in a group of mentors at the University of Sussex Business School.  This year I was graciously invited to take part in the annual ‘Dragon’s Den’ style project, focussing on New Venture Creation and Business Planning with an inspiring group of students.

I was assigned to a group of six highly intelligent, motivated and fearless young people who wasted no time in putting together a solid plan of action, to ensure they really made the most of having a mentor on hand to work through their ideas with.  They communicated well, they were always on time (early actually) for our meetings, and they always prepared in advance to make the very best of our time together.  I was astounded by their levels of enthusiasm for the project, and despite having a very full schedule already, they took their remit very seriously.  Their collaborative working methods were first class, and this really paid off in their final presentations, when they were awarded a very impressive 3rd place out of around 20 groups.

On a more personal level and as a parent of three young children, it was wonderful for me to have an insight into what life may hold in the coming years for my own children.  It did however also made me mindful that my children would only have access to the same opportunities as my group of students, if people like me continue to prioritise CSR.  

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Like many working professionals, I’m super busy.  I travel extensively for work, I attend countless meetings each week, and I manage a team of people and each year we welcome a vast amount of young people to the UK who will be taking part in Educational Programmes.  Even with all of these factors considered, I will continue to make time to help in the education of young people when possible.  Will you?

5 Top Tips on Preparing for Your Internship Placement

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The summer is fast approaching and if you have enrolled in a Summer Work Experience Internship you will be busily preparing for your trip. This year The Blue Penguin Company has had a record number of Internship applications and we are thrilled to be able to offer these ambitious young people such varied and challenging placements, in some truly fantastic companies.

We have come up with a list of 5 top tips to help you get the most out of your Internship Placement;

1. Do your research – take the time to do a little research about the company you are going to be working for BEFORE you arrive. Read their most recent blogposts (if they have any) and find out basic information about who owns the company, who their clients are, what their Company ethos is, and any projects they may currently be working on. If you have any of your own work that you feel is relevant, bring it along to show as an example of your skills.

2. Pack appropriately – you should be sent information on the Company dress code before you depart, but if not, make sure you ask. By asking and preparing in advance you can ensure that you not only feel prepared, but also look the part. It would also be a good idea to do some research of the typical expected weather over the period you are working there, so that you have a selection of clothing suitable for all weathers, which includes your journey to and from work each day (we’re thinking umbrellas!)

3. Don’t be late – we understand that the importance of time-keeping varies in different cultures but in the UK we are sticklers for punctuality. Nothing says ‘I’m not extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity’ like arriving to work late. We understand that sometimes being late is unavoidable due to transportation or weather issues, but you should always have a contact number of your manager to be able to call your manager (yes call, not text) and let them know you are running late. Make sure you ask for this on the first day.

4. Keep busy – once you have started at your placement, make sure you have identified ways to stay busy during quieter periods. For instance, if you are working in a restaurant, the early mornings or late afternoons may be quiet and there may not be many customers about. This is not an invitation to stand around waiting for prospective clients to arrive, this is an invitation for you to find inventive ways to stay busy, like clearing glasses off shelves to clean them, wrapping cutlery in napkins or restocking fridges. This is the most important point for your own success on this list, as you will be evaluated on your ability to use your initiative and show maturity!

5. Remain motivated throughout your placement – it’s great that you are super perky on your first or even second day at work, but if you are going to be carrying out a placement for 2, 4, 6 or more weeks, it’s important to keep those levels of motivation going throughout. Remember that your evaluation is typically completed by your manager AT THE END of your placement, so make sure they have plenty of positive examples of your work to record.

6. Okay we know we said 5 – but this one is definitely worth an extra mention… it is absolutely, 100% never never never okay to be on your mobile phone during working hours. It’s not okay to sneak off to the toilet to check your Instagram feed or update snapchat. Please take careful note of this point as it’s one that could cost you your job if not taken seriously.

Work Experience Internships are a gift – they are little golden nuggets of opportunity given to you by busy, experienced industry professionals who have opened up the doors of their Companies to invite you in to learn. If you are reading this and want to know more about how to apply for a Work Experience Internship Programme, please take a look at our website for more information.

As a company we work tirelessly throughout the year to build and maintain relationships with businesses, and one poor experience will invariably mean we are not able to work with these companies again. We therefore recruit our candidates very carefully, they are interviewed, regularly and fully briefed, and their placements are managed throughout their time in at work. Grab the opportunity you have been given with both hands and make the very most of it.