By Caroline Saunders, Sales & Marketing Support, SilverDoor

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Following a recent public disagreement between David Cameron and Nick Clegg, there have been several discussions as to whether or not it should be acceptable to give internships to personal acquaintances.

Nick Clegg has stated very firmly that “internships should not go to people because of who they know, rather than what they know.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has told the Daily Telegraph: "In the modern world, of course you're always going to have internships and interns - people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever. I do that and I'll go on doing that. I feel very relaxed about it."

Further into this public disagreement, David Cameron stated that he was giving his neighbour an internship. This generated even more talk about the issue, provoking Gus Baker from pressure group Intern Aware to comment: “He might think he’s giving his neighbour a leg up, but what he’s actually doing is pushing down other talented young people who aren’t lucky enough to live next door to the PM.” This debate has split opinions not only in Westminster, but within the British public as a whole. Giving internships to personal acquaintances is something that has been happening for years, but since the recession and the decrease in jobs available to graduates and undergraduates, it has come to the forefront of many people’s minds.

In many professions, internships have become an important - if not essential - way of gaining the experience needed to enter the job market, and politics is no different. At SilverDoor we are in the third full year of our placement programme and last year we began to see the fruits of our labour, as for the first time two placement students came back to join us permanently after completing their degrees.

Faced with tighter recruitment budgets, many companies carry out internship programmes which offer no pay, meaning that in the majority of cases only the affluent can afford to take part. However, at SilverDoor we believe that offering paid internships can benefit employers as much as the interns themselves. SilverDoor’s Sales Director, Chris Gee, states: “We have always believed in paying placement students a fair salary, and in return have enjoyed high levels of productivity and innovation from our bright young things”.

We feel that placement students bring a lot of benefits to the company, some of which are obvious and some of which are a little intangible. A clear benefit of a paid internship system is the reduction in recruitment costs it offers. The cost of recruiting placement students is minimal, and if they prove themselves throughout their placement year, they could be offered a job after they graduate, saving money that would otherwise be spent recruiting permanent employees. We take on enthusiastic students, and although they are relatively inexperienced, they are given the opportunity to show their areas of strength, allowing them to contribute both professionally and socially to the company’s day-to-day routine.

Internships offer benefits for both companies and the interns; it goes without saying that placement students are usually fun to have around, and generally lift energy levels in the workplace, something that can’t be a bad thing in any company!

In July we will be recruiting another nine placement students to replace the five we currently have, who will sit within the Marketing, Sales and Finance Departments. We have no doubt that they will continue to bring enthusiasm, eagerness and fresh ideas to SilverDoor.