The value of interns and placements are they worth paying?

By Michael Aldridge, General Manager of Merlin Events London

@MerlinEvents on Twitter 

I have spent the past ten years employing two placement students each year.We have found investing in these young people has had the most positive effect on the student and on the team as a whole.

At this point I would like to point out unlike X Factor we pay our placement students a “living wage”, currently £18k per annum.Recruiters should not look for cheap labour or a telephone monkey.I expect hard work, dedication and enthusiasm, and in return Merlin Events offers a structured training programme that covers event operations, sales and marketing.

Some of our past placement students are now running some of the most iconic attractions, further proof that investing in talent benefits the entire industry. I do appreciate people may say it must be more work having people changing each year but the benefits of having fresh energised people makes up for the training. Furthermore, because we have done this for so long we now have a structured manual and handover which is almost seamless. Anyone who has a de-motivated team will, I am sure, agree once a team becomes de-motivated it’s very difficult to reenergise.

How do we find our placements? We advertise via universities and hold an audition day to find the people with the ‘Merlin factor’.The day is stressful and very rigorous for the students but it ensures the best students are available and that the students selected fit within our unique culture. Why companies still interview for 30 minutes then call back twice is beyond me.I want to see them engage with other people, how much information they take in and how they communicate on the phone.

Do you think our pay is right – would you pay more or less?


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