Insights / Employers - 6 minutes

How to Get the Most Out of Your Intern

At Peratech, they are passionate about developing the talent pipeline and promoting the sustainable growth of the North East. They believe the best way to do this is through internships.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Intern


Tech Talent Engine



Peratech, the world-leading tactile sensing solutions company, has a history of making a difference in nanotechnology research.

As a global company, they have a diverse skill set, ranging from materials development, engineering design and software development.

With a surplus of technologists, engineers, scientists, and problem-solvers, they believe the best way to develop the talent pipeline is through internships.

After running internship programs for over 7 years, they have learned a lot.

Tech Talent Engine sat down with Dr Sarah Dempsey and Dr Tim Wiles to discuss the impact internships have had on their growth.

What Have Internships Done for Peratech?

With many of their employees alumni of Durham University, the idea was driven by a motive to retain connections with various departments of the university.

At first, they began offering one or two summer internships. This quickly developed into a large internship program, where they now hire from a pool of at least 7 different universities.

In their eyes, interns produce some of their best work.

Dr Sarah Dempsey echoes this belief.

Our interns have helped shape who we are as a company. Their work has directly impacted our research and has gone into products, solutions and tools that have driven success for Peratech.

This has included laying the groundwork for a modelling and simulation tool that is now used globally in our company, which means we can predict our sensor’s performance for different materials and designs.

Other internships have involved developing a 2D sensor array test system, defining new ink materials test protocols, and simulating conducting pathways in our composite materials.

Each year, Peratech emphasise how impressed they are with what interns can achieve. With the right enthusiasm for learning and the right support from Peratech, interns deliver time and time again.

Flexibility Leads to Diversity and Inclusivity

It goes without saying that the past two years have been challenging. However, in this time, Peratech has seen a paradigm shift in how workforces operate—with flexible and remote working now a real option for many people.

They’ve found this has opened new opportunities for internships, too. Dr Tim adds,

We’ve run remote internships which are highly technical (computational modelling, data analysis etc)—well suited to a remote employee.

We’ve also used an intern to help explore and understand the patent landscape in our field, and an intern to help develop and run project management training for our employees, which again utilise remote working.

Flexible or remote working removes some of the logistics of needing your intern to relocate. This also helps interns who might have other commitments (jobs or family) or who are not able to move for other reasons.

Peratech is strong a believer in paying interns. They believe unpaid internships only attract those who can afford to work for you.

Most businesses would rather hire the best candidate irrespective of personal circumstances.

In terms of partnerships, there are several organisations designed to help students gain internship experience. Local universities are a great start but are not conclusive in finding candidates.

Dr Tim expands on this.

There are many schemes looking to promote STEM as a career—encouraging people who might be returning to the workforce after an absence, looking to switch career paths, or looking to upskill into an exciting new area.

Running internships through non-traditional routes often gives you access to candidates who think differently, or who can apply their previous learnings to a new situation. Dynamo North East and Tech Talent Engine is one such example of a scheme which aims to develop the technology talent pipeline.

Getting the Most Out of Your Intern

It’s important to remember that interns, by definition, lack experience.

When talking to candidates, Peratech suggests against looking for existing technical skills or experience beyond the necessary (basic) level of competence. Instead, focus on their attitude to work and their approach to learning and problem solving.

It’s also a good idea to check they’ve done their research on your company and discuss project ideas with them to ensure your interests align.

Dr Sarah Dempsey adds.

Your intern will be learning as they go, so it can be helpful to keep their project scope narrow, at least initially. As a rule of thumb, don’t expect much from your intern for the first four weeks—in this time, ensure they build a good foundation of knowledge about the work that you are asking them to do.

After this firm foundation is built, you should see significant advances. We’ve run 8-week internships and had terrific results even in this short time!

Letting Your Intern Get the Most Out of You

Now that we’ve discussed getting the most out of your intern, how do you ensure your intern gets the most out of you?

Firstly, they suggest giving your interns real, meaningful work or real-world challenges to get stuck into rather than tea and coffee duties.

Design projects that are important but not urgent, as interns will have the headspace and enthusiasm to tackle it.

This includes projects that allow a combination of individual lead work and teamwork, too. As a result, they will have enough time to work with others within the organisation.

On that note, Dr Sarah and Dr Tim suggest exposing your intern to other areas of the business and giving them opportunities to talk with people across the wider organisation.

Be open and available to answer any questions they have, especially at the early stages of the project, because the more you put in at this stage, the more you will get out.

Looking Forward

The final piece of advice Dr Sarah Dempsey and Dr Tim Wiles suggested is perhaps the most important. Be open-minded for the future.

While some interns may join the company full-time, others won’t. The main benefit is the ability to take part in their growth, whether they move on or not.

If you’d like to find out more about anything in this article or access any further employer support, then get in touch with us at and we will be happy to help.

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