ARA publishes Interim Statement on Interns

The Association has published an Interim Statement on Intern Opportunities.The Statement will be reviewed when findings from an ARA survey, alreadyunder way, on volunteering in archives, are known.






The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) has recognised the value of volunteering in archives, records management and conservation (henceforth referred to as the record keeping professions) to employers and those who volunteer. This policy can be found here.

The ARA wishes to encourage all appropriate routes into the record keeping workforce. Alongside volunteer opportunities, many organisations are also creating intern positions in record keeping, some with elements of pay and expenses. Internships can have positive benefits for both host organisations and individuals.

Currently there appears to be overlap in some cases with what would better be regarded as volunteering positions, where the task rather than any training element is the primary consideration. Research commissioned by the ARA Public Services Quality Group Volunteering Sub Committee is currently underway and, when completed, may provide additional information to ARA to help determine the extent of such an overlap. This report is scheduled for completion and launch in early November.  In the interval ARA has produced this interim position to serve as guidance for those creating internship opportunities or wishing to take them up. The interim statement will be revised in the light of the findings of the Volunteering project report.


What are internships?

Internships can be

• Work opportunities of short duration for those considering a career in one of the record keeping professions or as part of an introduction to working in the cultural or information sectors

• A placement linked to a university course (other than one providing a specific record keeping qualification) where the host provides specific learning outcomes and the experience contributes to the intern’s final degree

• An opportunity for a qualified professional to acquire additional experience in a specific area of record keeping to further his or her career

As distinct from volunteering, an internship should always provide a defined outcome for the intern and may benefit the host organisation. All internships should include learning for the intern, accompanied by appropriate professional supervision. Internships should not be exploitative but seek to provide successful outcomes for both the host organisation and the prospective intern.

The ARA does not consider that interns can or should be used to replace appropriately experienced professional or para-professional staff as the principal stewards of the UK and Ireland’s unique documentary heritage.

What should the standards be for internships?

The ARA believes that internships should:

• Have defined tasks

• Be properly supervised by a relevant qualified professional

• Include a clear outline of tasks in the form of a job description, which includes a named line manager or supervisor

• Have a clear outline of what is expected of the intern and a framework for management, supervision, appraisal and a code of conduct

• Be time limited.

• If any kind of customer service element is involved in the position, it should not involve substitution for a full or part time paid position, whether professional or para-professional

• Offer a training and development plan to the intern, including defined learning outcomes

• Provide documented outcomes that will contribute to the employability of the intern

Should internships be paid and how long should they last?

The ARA expects that all intern positions should as a minimum include reasonable work-related expenses, except for placements linked to university courses.

To ensure mutual benefit to the host organisation and the intern, internships should be for a minimum of eight weeks. 

Where expenses only are offered, an internship should be limited to a maximum of three months. Paid internships should be for the maximum of twelve months.


September 2013