Internship success for National Crime Agency

Posted — 10.01.2017

Five graduates recruited as full-time officers

It is a familiar story for anyone approaching the end of university – the stress of finding a job and putting hard-acquired qualifications to good use in making a living.

This time of transitioning from the world of academia and into the cut-and-thrust of employment is often a fraught combination of exams, career fairs and trawling websites looking for vacancies. Many graduates face the classic chicken-and-egg situation – having the right qualifications but needing the experience demanded by employers.

But in an initiative mutually beneficial to law enforcement and graduates alike, the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) has piloted a 12-week summer internship for students. And the scheme has paid off with the employer retaining five of seven gifted candidates in full-time roles.

“This represents a great investment for our unit – we had hundreds of applications for these placements so those we selected represent some of the very best students,” Charlotte Joergensen, who has been running the scheme, said.

“The mentors assigned to each of our interns have been impressed – particularly as this is the first serious job for many of the students after coming from university. They have been delivering real results.”

A move to seek out and retain the finest raw talent to help in the fast-moving battle against cyber criminals, the internship was drawn up in consultation with the National Crime Agency’s human resources department and was rolled out for the first time this year.

It was advertised widely – primarily in universities – attracting some 400 applications from students across the UK and abroad. Those shortlisted then faced a competency-based interview.

“We made our final selection from the candidates in March and those chosen were appropriately vetted,” said Charlotte. “The cohort was made up of three women and four men who started in different areas of our command in the middle of June – and they have been paid throughout their time here.

“They went through an induction before they took up their placements and they had a mid-term evaluation halfway through.”

All of the interns were given responsibility for their own projects as well as taking part in the day-to-day work within their teams. Justified by their performance, they were offered an interview, which they all successfully passed, and were then offered a job.

“Five have accepted – three have already taken up positions and the other two are starting next year in February and July respectively,” Charlotte added. “Obviously this is a great return for us as an agency. Of the other two, one has another job offer abroad and the other is returning to finish his studies.

“This initiative has helped us recruit some very capable young people as well as raising awareness of our organisation. And, although we selected entirely on merit, it has been very positive from a diversity perspective, attracting more women to the command – including the technical areas.”

Drawn from universities including St Andrews, Bournemouth and Middlesex, the interns said the experience they had accrued during the three-month period was invaluable.

They were impressed with the level of responsibility they had been given, the support of their experienced mentors and the opportunities on offer in the future.

“The internship appealed as a way of getting some useful experience and the work looked really cool,” said Juliette. “But to be honest I did not think I would be selected at all.

“I never really thought about law enforcement before but I really like what I’m doing. The atmosphere here is very friendly and the people very genuine.

“There is a lot of opportunity too – including possibilities for relevant training and upskilling.”

Martin – who is now resuming his studies – said the experience of the internship would stand him in good stead for the future.

“The past 12 weeks have been brilliant,” the undergraduate added. “There is a positive workplace culture and the ability to work flexibly is a real benefit.

“Although I haven’t made my mind up about what I want to do after studying, I now have the benefit of seeing a law enforcement agency and want to continue here as a volunteer.”

The internship has paid off for all parties – graduates have been given the opportunity for a career after university while NCCU has had the pick of the best emerging talent.

With a second wave of interns set to be recruited next year, the future looks promising for this initiative – particularly with the high conversion rate from intern to officer.

Note: graduate names were changed on request