Stories of our impact
From the classroom to the boardroom
Launching Northern Ireland’s first business internship
“I had this grand idea of doing something totally transformational. Something that would open eyes, impact futures and change lives.”
It might have felt like a lofty ambition, but it’s exactly what Euan Isles, a consultant in our Human Capital team, did for 22 lucky sixth-formers.
Aware that traditional work experience can often bear little resemblance to a real job, Euan wanted to design a programme that offered both pupils and employers more. So, in partnership with Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast, and with colleagues from across Human Capital, Strategy & Operations and Deloitte Digital, he developed Northern Ireland’s first business internship.
The pilot Hazelwood Industry Internship was launched in September 2017. For the 16 and 17-year-olds who made it through the selection process, there was no filing, photocopying or making tea – just a chance to tackle real-world issues facing different industries.
For six months, they spent Wednesday afternoons with one of five employers. Joining Deloitte were Danske Bank, the Dalata Hotel Group, construction company O’Hare McGovern and our Northern Ireland social enterprise partner, NOW Group.
Each student was asked to investigate a topic and suggest solutions. Those working with our Health team had to assess the future of health in Northern Ireland. Other subjects included new financial services for younger customers, breaking down perceptions of construction as a career for women, and marketing a business venture.
“The internship was an amazing experience. It has helped me grow and flourish as a person and has reassured me about the career path I wish to take in the future.”
For the interns, it meant research, field work and talking to stakeholders. There were group sessions where they came together to share insights, and workshops on problem-solving, creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship and digital know-how. At the end of the six months, they presented their recommendations in the boardroom.
“Work experience isn’t always positive,” senior manager Euan explains. “We wanted to give students the chance to become fully immersed in an industry they were genuinely interested in and explore career paths they might not have known about. We wanted to give them useful skills and build ambition and confidence.”
Leaving a lasting impression
Initial feedback has been fantastic and suggests the programme has had a lasting impact on students, their families, employers and the school. There’s also evidence that GCSE pupils are opting to return to take A-levels in the hope of getting involved.
Going forward, the team hope to enlist more companies and extending the internship to other schools.
“This was designed to stretch the students and it did that,” Euan adds. “Their work was genuinely insightful and was highly regarded by all the employers – some will even take the recommendations on board. We’re delighted it has been so valuable for everyone involved.”
Kathleen O'Hare, Principal of Hazelwood Integrated College says, “The pilot internship programme exceeded all our expectations. It continues to be the most inspirational and aspirational project that I have ever been involved in. Students got insights into the world of work that were real and meaningful, and it changed many of the life chances of our children.
This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionise careers education in schools. We cannot thank the staff from Deloitte enough for their professional approach in working in real partnership with Hazelwood.”