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.

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
  • 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 July and September
  • 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.
  • 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 23 months without having to seek permission from the commission.
  • 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.
  • Salary: The salary for interns is £350 per week paid for by departments. Due to National Living Wage (NLW) increases on 1 April 2022, please ensure that your departments are paying the correct NLW for the age of the intern. Please check with your HR team for any queries on this.
  • Interns do not count towards headcount.
  • Travel: Departments will be required to cover the costs of travel expenses to London if interns are based in a regional office.

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.

Intern appraisal and evaluation surveys

Towards the end of the internship, each line manager should complete the intern appraisal survey (member access) to give constructive and beneficial feedback relating to their interns performance. Each intern should also complete the intern evaluation survey (members access) to provide feedback on their internship experience. These can be found linked below.

The intern appraisal survey will cover the following points relating to the intern:

  • Have they met their objectives? 
  • What have they achieved? 
  • What projects have they completed or contributed towards? 
  • Can they give examples of skills they have learned which allows them to be better prepared for the future job market? 
  • How well have they performed? 
  • What are their strengths? 
  • What areas of development should they work on for the future?

This will help:

  • Demonstrate to the intern what they have achieved and the skills they have developed which will support them when applying for future roles
  • Identify the benefits to the department employing an intern, highlighting how the intern has contributed towards achieving team objectives

Final steps for end of placement:

  • Complete the intern appraisal survey (member access)
  • Once the intern appraisal survey has been submitted, click the ‘print response’ button and select ‘save as PDF’ as this will allow you to save and send a copy of the completed appraisal to your Intern
  • The GCS Internship Team will receive your answers automatically
  • Direct your intern to complete the intern evaluation survey (member access)

Additional feedback on the internship and its management can be sent to which will support continued improvement within the programme.