Many small employers are wary of hiring university trainees. However, the competence provided by the students may be a positive surprise to the organisation and may lead to long-term employment contracts.
A traineeship is often a beneficial experience to the employer and student alike. Trainees may bring fresh competence, for example, to the communications and customer services at the workplace. Larger organisations run annual trainee programmes, but there is still a great deal of untapped potential in opportunities afforded by university traineeship programmes to SMEs.
“Trainees have introduced new and fresh perspectives into existing processes,” says Heidi Tukiainen from Verto Analytics, a company providing market research and digital media metrics. The company has employed an international student from the University of Helsinki as a trainee.
WordDive, a provider of language courses based on artificial intelligence, also has experience of the wide-ranging competence of trainees. Heidi Sharma from WordDive says that their experiences have been extremely positive.
“The trainee started producing professional and productive work very quickly after the orientation period,” says Sharma.
Concrete tasks and varied competence
Concrete work tasks for trainees, for example, in communications and marketing may include updating websites, social media communications or various reporting duties. In some workplaces, trainees may have clearly assigned collections of duties. For example, going through texts and translating them may be an option.
“Our trainee reviewed and updated our Italian teaching materials, which had not been done in quite a while, and also produced new courses for us,” says Sharma from WordDive.
In Verto Analytics, trainees have been included as members of a team from the very first day. When their competence develops, their responsibilities at work also increase. At a practical level, trainees have helped with social media and content production in addition to customer service.
“Trainee duties also included answering Google Play reviews and social media messages as well as producing content for campaign messages, newsletters and blogs,” says Tukiainen.
At best, giving trainees more varied responsibilities may lead to longer term employment. At WordDive, the trainee returned to the team the next summer and has continued as a full-time employee. Verto Analytics has also become aware of this opportunity.
“In addition to having the opportunity to get to know people at the start of their professional careers, hiring a trainee provides us with a chance to find suitable and competent people, who can continue in the company after their graduation,” says Tukiainen.
An affordable and easy way to get to know a new employee
Orienting trainees with the workplace and practices takes its time, but it will pay for itself. Sharma says that the amount of support depends on the individual, while the amount of guidance required may also depend on the industry and the duties. According to both companies trainees are provided the same orientation with the work processes and duties as any new employees.
“Guidance requires dialogue and monitoring the development of the trainees as well as help and advice in issues related to the duties,” says Tukiainen.
Some trainees may well be ready for both independent and team work. This was the case, for example, at WordDive.
“Teaching material projects are large and demanding and they require input from several people, very good language skills, good team work capability, creativity, and pedagogical competence,” says Sharma.
According to feedback received by the University, experiences of traineeships are very positive and many companies end up employing new trainees. Sharma considers traineeships an affordable and easy way to be ensured of the suitability of a new employee with the work and the team.
“We definitely recommend hiring a trainee!” says Tukiainen.
Author: Miika Mertanen