Managing an intern

Guidance on internship for line managers.

Use this guidance alongside your departmental HR policies for advice on topics such as reasonable adjustments, annual leave, sick leave and performance in the same way as they apply to other employees on a short term fixed term contract.

June 2021 update

Thank you for supporting the GCS Internship scheme. This year, we have 50 interns from diverse backgrounds joining 21 departments and public bodies across the Government Communication Service (GCS).

Having an intern is a rewarding experience for the department and you, as a line manager, as you are actively helping someone to start their career. You can make a difference in developing someone’s skills and encouraging them to join the GCS.

On this page:


Scheme outline

The purpose of the GCS internship is to provide an indication of what the GCS is really like. Interns will have the opportunity to work in a wide range of communications disciplines.

The GCS Internship is a paid communications work experience placement. It is aimed at students from diverse backgrounds at university level, including those who are completing a degree-equivalent qualification (NVQ level 6).

The award-winning scheme is the first profession-led diversity programme across government and a key initiative in our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Support from GCS

The Professional Standards Team at GCS will support the Interns learning by arranging the following activities:

  • GCS Induction day
  • full access to GCS Academy
  • competency workshop
  • mentors on request
  • networking opportunities

Key information

Due to the pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19), you need to speak to your intern about their flexibility to work from home as well as from the office, in line with government guidance. Discuss these options with your intern as soon as possible.

This is what managers need to know:

  • ​Duration: Placements are usually 6 to 12 weeks between June and September, however this year the programme has launched slightly later so your intern might only be able to stay between 6 to 10 weeks
  • Extensions: There may be flexibility to extend depending on your interns availability, and business need.​ Please speak to your department’s HR team to help consider whether this might be an option for your team.
  • Security clearance: Security clearance and onboarding was led by individual departments. Interns should have been brought directly into departments on Short Term Fixed Term contracts​.
  • Onboarding: The GCS Internship team does not issue or manage onboarding or intern contracts. Please do work with your department’s onboarding team to ensure your intern has a smooth onboarding process.
  • Contracts: Interns do not go through fair and open recruitment but are instead brought into the Civil Service through exemption 1 of the Civil Service Recruitment Principles 2018. Their Short Term Fixed term contracts can be extended for up to 12 months without having to seek permission from the commission.
  • Salary: The salary for interns is £350 per week paid for by your department. Interns do not count towards headcount.
  • Travel: Travel expenses should be covered by your department and discussed and agreed before travel arrangements are made.

Your role as an intern line manager

As a line manager, your role is vital to engage, motivate and stretch the capability of GCS Interns. Their contribution is a business benefit to the department as well as themselves.

To encourage them to gain a greater understanding of GCS and build their networks across the profession, help your intern to:

  • identify shadowing and other development opportunities, such as taking on projects and attending meetings
  • task them with note taking, as this can help ensure they feel involved in the process
  • attend departmental events and training
  • take up networking opportunities

Be inclusive

  • be inclusive: inclusion is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace and many disabilities are invisible.
  • when you start your conversation, ask each other “What can I do to make our meeting comfortable for you?”
  • depending on their needs, some colleagues might like video with subtitles, some might prefer a phone call, some might prefer an email with text in a certain size.

Plan their induction

Give your intern a full departmental induction over their first week. This should include:

  • an introduction to colleagues and the team
  • an assigned team buddy for day to day support
  • A tour of facilities/IT guidance
  • get an understanding of the role of their team, the department and how this fits in with GCS
  • explain the Civil Service code, and your departments culture and values and what is expected of employees.

Help your Intern get the best experience

Interns are with us to learn more about the GCS and we hope they will go on to explore a career with us in the future.

Our selected Interns are studying communication related subjects and will be expecting to put their learning into practice. For this reason it is vital their placements are thought out allowing you to enrich their learning and understanding of the industry. For some interns, this could be their first work based experience.

Line manager will need to:

  • complete the ‘Mental Health at Work’ course on Civil Service Learning to support your intern
  • give interns tasks to complete when they join and allocate responsibilities straight away
  • shape interns’ experience with a communications project (drafting an OASIS plan, reviewing your social media, writing a blog of their experience)
  • provide shadowing opportunities for your intern, where possible
  • rotate your intern into or collaborate with different communication areas, where possible.

Development and one-to-ones

Both the GCS Professional Standards Team and departments will contribute to this. Please support this by:

  • Providing role specific training.
  • Schedule and maintain regular 1 to 1s with your intern.
  • Helping the intern create a personal development plan. You can use this GCS personal development plan template as a guide. Please note, Interns are not expected to collect CPD points.
  • Help your intern set clear objectives based on what they want to get out of the scheme.
  • Encourage your intern to access GCS Academy courses (read, watch, do) and read the relevant guidance on Modern Communications Operating Model (MCOM) guidance online.
  • Have at least one career conversation with your intern, and consider future opportunities within your team which your intern could apply for or ways to extend their placement if they are available. You can signpost them to the GCS Career Framework.

Do an ‘end of placement’ exit interview

The Professional Standards Team will upload an exit interview template and and Intern appraisal form to complete towards the end of the scheme.

Be prepared to feedback to your intern on:

  • How well do they think they have met their objectives?
  • What have been their main achievements?
  • What projects have they completed or contributed to?
  • In what ways are they better prepared for the jobs market after completing the internship?
  • How well have they performed?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What areas of development is it suggesting that they concentrate on for the future?

This will help:

  • you identify the benefits they have gained from employing the intern and how they have helped to meet the team’s objectives
  • benefit the intern by focusing on what they have achieved and how they have developed themselves – this reflective process will be useful when applying for further employment.

Final steps for end of placement:

  • Download and use the exit interview sheet (to be uploaded shortly)
  • Download the Intern appraisal form (to be uploaded shortly)
  • refer back to the interns original programme objectives
  • on completion, please submit a copy to the gcs-internship@cabinetoffice.gov.uk
  • Provide any feedback on the scheme and management of it to gcs-internship@cabinetoffice.gov.uk so that we can continue to improve the program.