Interning. For many of us, we envision a stressed, unpaid graduate doing coffee runs for their bosses in hope of being noticed and getting an entry level job. 

It doesn’t have to be like that- and it certainly isn’t at The Learning Company. Based at University College Isle of Man’s Nunnery campus, the scheme, which is backed by the Economic Recovery Group, takes on graduates and gives them the opportunity to gain experience and develop skills as they work on eLearning projects- all while getting paid.

The scheme launched last year, and is just saying goodbye to its first cohort of interns, and it’s undoubtedly been a success. Not only have the interns gained knowledge of the eLearning sector- worth an estimated $200 billion- but their experience has made them both incredibly employable and, actually, employed. With there being such great results with the cohort, The Learning Company is welcoming new applicants for this year, building upon the feedback and experience of the first interns.

The Learning Company is structured like a start-up company, giving the interns vital experience in small business management. Unlike many entry-level graduate roles, where their decision-making and control are limited, the Learning Company empowers the interns to take on responsibilities within a collaborative environment. Their first task was to give a name to their eLearning start-up. They named the business, and its space at the Nunnery ‘Hatch’- giving it the tagline ‘A New Generation of Digital Learning Design’. 

The team of interns were put in their own office to work collaboratively. Talking to three of the interns, Emily Todd, Myfanwy Gelder and Rowan Grundley, it’s clear that a year of working in a team has allowed them to become attuned to each other’s needs and that they all clearly bounce off each other. One of the first tasks, Myfanwy tells me, was organising the layout of the office. While, on reflection, she said it seems ‘silly now’, there was genuine conflict when making decisions as a team. For many graduates, they will have found themselves to have had little opportunity to develop the ‘soft’ skills, like conflict resolution- which are so vital in the working world.

While the interns learn by experience, they also attended ‘masterclasses’: presented by both UCM lecturers and external professionals- including remote classes from experts in Germany and the United States. These classes were both directly related to Digital Learning and to more general business skills- including classes on accessibility and entrepreneurial skills. 

The interns also had prior knowledge from their degrees: their backgrounds included marketing, computer science and design. The interns held skill-sharing sessions to help each other develop their skills and knowledge: resulting in well-rounded individuals. 

These skills were put into practice with the diverse projects that the interns got up to. The 35 projects had genuine value to others: including resources for UCM and projects for external clients including the Equality Advisory Limited and the Economic Recovery Group. Working with external clients and being accountable to stakeholders both allowed the interns to become confident speakers and network among professionals who could see them using their knowledge.

The most successful outcome of the Learning Company is that the interns have paved a future for themselves. Myfanwy is one of three interns who secured a job with Suntera, one of the stakeholders at the Learning Company. Having felt it was difficult to find a job after graduating, the Learning Company was a stepping stone to success.

For Emily, who only found herself on-island due to the pandemic interrupting her degree, the scheme exposed her to the potential she had on-island. She was previously unaware of the opportunities that were on the Isle of Man, which she believes are unique to the island.

Rowan, who was a mature student with a background in HR, has been empowered with knowledge and confidence to look at a future being self-employed. Speaking to other self-employed people she met through the scheme gave her insight into how could utilise her skills to work for her.
Having had its first (very successful) run through, The Learning Company will be back again, with even more opportunities for networking and learning. If you’re interested in joining The Learning Company, selection starts on the 23rd of September- though late applicants will be considered. You can apply here.

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