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GEMS FirstPoint Global Internship Links with Industry Charged by Landmark Partnership with UK’s Financial Times
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GEMS FirstPoint Global Internship Links with Industry Charged by Landmark Partnership with UK’s Financial Times

by Jon WestleyJuly 12, 2021

Background GEMS FirstPoint Global Links with Industry Charged by Landmark Partnership with UK’s Financial Times


“I have been very open about my concerns that education and industry grow further apart every day.

To be more exact, education is standing still whilst industry continue to grow and evolve.

The relevance of traditional education is therefore becoming more and more removed from the skills and qualities that industries require.

We therefore need to supplement children’s’ education with opportunities to develop the skills that will prepare them for the rest of their lives.”

Matthew Tompkins. Principal and Chief Executive Officer. GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai



GEMS FirstPoint School has secured a major landmark business and industry placement with the Financial Times London for a student on the blue-chip media giant’s class-leading Advocate programme, winning through to achieve one of just 165 available places across 17 countries worldwide.

GEMS FirstPoint has rapidly established itself as a leader in the provision of extremely high quality internships, virtual and real-world, for its students as part of its Sixth Form academic and technical qualification pathways, the latter including BTEC. These build on the development of links between students and industry across all phases of each student’s academic journey as they progress through the school.

The Virtual Internship with the iconic Financial Times comes despite the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, this in other schools seeing disruption to the availability of business and industry internships and placements so critical to enabling students to stand-out with top universities and future employers.

In the following article, Year 12 student Rejan Sehmi, together with GEMS FirstPoint Principal, Matt Tompkins, the London-based Financial Times Project Lead for Education, Krishan Puvvada, and GEMS FirstPoint Director of Specialism – Careers and Higher Education Advisor, Siobhan Dickerson MA (Oxon), speak exclusively to about a partnership with arguably the world’s most respected financial media group. 



About the Financial Times

The FT Group includes the Financial Times, FT Specialist – a portfolio of 17 specialist brands – and a number of services and joint ventures.

The Financial Times newspaper was founded in 1888 as the London Financial Guide and today is respected for its authority, independence and accuracy. Ad Fontes Media rates Financial Times in the middle category of bias and as most reliable in terms of reliability with a score of 45.30 for the reliability of its data and -3.94 for bias. Scores above 24 are generally acceptable; scores above 32 are generally good. Bias scores for articles and shows are on a scale of -42 to + 42, with higher negative scores being more left, higher positive scores being more right, and scores closer to zero being the most neutral and/or balanced.

The FT employs more than 2300 people worldwide, including 700 journalists in 40 countries and attracts close to 1 million subscribers across digital and print.



“Why Internships matter.”

by Siobhan Dickerson MA (Oxon), GEMS FirstPoint Director of Specialism – Careers and Higher Education Advisor

Photograph of Siobhan Dickerson MA GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai on working with the Financial Times London


Why are Virtual Internships like those at the Financial Times so important for young people?

“At FPS we are focused on developing world ready global citizens. These have to know how to merge their academic learning with skills needed to be successful in any industry they choose. In order to prepare students for this, we have built a number of networks with business leaders and entrepreneurs where students can gain valuable work and life experience and learn from doing a role rather than just reading about it.

Internships are key to experiencing a job before you sign up to a potentially life-long career and essential for learning things most traditional schools just don’t have time for in the curriculum like fostering positive working relationships, conducting administrative tasks or even realizing the impact of time management. In the pandemic, face to face internships had to be halted but as a centre of excellence, FPS felt compelled to continue to provide these valuable opportunities so we looked to conduct these virtually. By doing so, we are not bound by time zones or geographical location, meaning we can work with any company anywhere in the world. The FT is one of our many opportunities we access virtually and it is important because students are not limited to their own locale or restricted by the ongoing Covid pandemic.

We are bringing what students need and what employers are crying out for together in a virtual world, and this partnership with the FT is something pretty special.”



Describe working with the FT – what inspired you to build the relationship?


“We were introduced by a company we had been doing summer schools with back in 2019. As a centre of excellence for specialism, we were asked to nominate a student to work with the FT as part of their Student Advocate programme.

There were very few schools asked.

We get offered lots of opportunities but were particularly inspired to take this one due to the global reach of the FT and the gravitas of the publication.

Also, because (as Career Advisor) two of our biggest leavers’ destinations is to go in to the worlds of business and finance, and as an English graduate I was interested in the journalism angle for our students too.

The FT was a great link to have to merge all of these disciplines.”


Can you provide examples of other organisations that you work with in the UAE and/or worldwide at GEMS FirstPoint School  – and which organisation is at the very top of your list still to secure, and why? 

“We work with EtonX, Siemens, Schneider Electric, Noon, Kinder and Roche, the Alghurair Foundation… along with many universities both here and abroad.

I would love to secure a link with the UAE Space Programme, and we have our own spaceship built in school ready to host any astronauts who visit our school!”


What do you look for from companies that work with GEMS FirstPoint School students?

“A mutual relationship where the company will give their time and energy to the student, just as we do as teachers.

A company that is recognisable in its success and has a history of making a positive impact in its specialised industry.

Often, we look for companies that have a focus on sustainability and care for humans at its heart.

One that supports the Family First ethos of FPS is always a top choice.



“Our Links With GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai.”

by Krishan Puvvada, Project Lead, Education, Financial Times

Photograph of the Financial Times Krishan Puvvada


Can you describe the value of FT internships and the rationale for the FT‘s considerable commitment to them?

“Careers are evolving and becoming more flexible – we know this causes anxiety for students.

Internships which help young people develop soft skills like public speaking, creativity and leadership help them feel more confident in a competitive job market.

For the FT, our growth rests in the success of our subscription business. This requires us to reach younger audiences and to do this, we need to better understand their needs and motivations.

We have made free for secondary schools worldwide and, within this, the Student Advocate Programme is so valuable because it provides us with a continuous, sustainable and representative feedback loop with sixth formers – they tell us their vision for the FT and this informs our thinking on how to make the FT more compelling for young people.”


Can you outline your relationship with GEMS FirstPoint School and working with Rajan Sehmi?

“The FT prides itself on its global outlook.

In the context of our Student Advocate Programme, it is important that we listen to the views of young people from across the world and we were delighted to welcome 165 students from 17 countries into this year’s Programme.

Rajan, who joined us from GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai, was a key part of this and he worked closely with around 30 other students from Las Vegas to Mumbai as well as his Mentor to brainstorm ideas on lots of topics from posters to podcasts.

Rajan did a brilliant job and was awarded a reference from the FT which we hope can help him secure further internships/employment in the future.”


What are the qualities you look for in FT journalists, technologists, marketing specialists, planners and the huge spectrum of roles that together build the world’s most prestigious and respected financial news and intelligence media company?

“There is a perception, particularly among young people, that the FT is stuffy, impenetrable and static as an organisation.

However, in my 5 years’ experience, this could not be further than the truth.

The FT is full of creative, thoughtful and wonderful people and is empathetic to the core.

Embracing this collegiate atmosphere is essential.

The next layer is a commitment to deliver the best for our readers.

Starting with our gold standard journalism, enabled through our fantastic Product & Tech teams, and delivered by our Subscription business, our mission is to help people make more informed decisions, whether they are a CEO or a student.

This means everyone at the FT has to be perceptive, good listeners and embrace doing things differently.”


What would your single top tip be for a young person set heart and soul on a career with the FT and now deciding on their next steps after leaving school?

“I started at the FT aged 16 – when I was on work experience I suggested to the Board some additional things which the FT could do for young people.

The Board listened and this was the seeds of the Free FT for Schools Initiative.

It taught me the value of being bold and having a go.

Jump and more often than not, you will land on your feet. If you show courage, you have a fantastic chance of succeeding, and, even if you don’t in the short term, you will learn and succeed in the long term.”


“How the FT fits with my ambition to work for the UK Government.”

by Rejan Sehmi, Student, GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai

Photograph of Rajan Sehmi at the Financial Times London as part of a landmark internship programme at GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai

[Pictured: Rajan Sehmi with the icon of The City of London’s financial centre, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Financial Times Head Office in the background.]


Tell us a little about your background and studies at GEMS FPS.

“I’ve been in Dubai for ten years now, leaving everything behind in London, England. This is my first year at GEMS FirstPoint School, undertaking A-Levels in Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Economics and Politics, all subjects I enjoy devoting my time to.”


How did it feel when you learned that you had secured a Virtual Internship at arguably the world’s most prestigious and respected financial media company?

“I was extremely pleased to have been offered a position at the FT. It was sensational to be contributing to a London company where I felt at home again. There’s something about that London corporate experience that is unmatchable. The internship with the FT from GEMS FirstPoint has given me greater confidence to probe the financial media sector in the future.”


What were the top 5 things you learned during your virtual internship at the Financial Times London?

“My experiences can be summarised by the adjective ‘holistic’. I used our FT Subscription at GEMS FirstPoint to dive into economic/political rabbit holes, enbarked on comprehensive communication with higher-ups, and created business plans for the company’s future progression. It is a lifestyle you learn and a taster, I hope, of what is to come in the future.”


What are your career ambitions on leaving school?

“Upon leaving GEMS FirstPoint at the end of 2022, I hope to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at University.

Hopefully, this path will lead me to work with Her Majesty’s Government, whether in a political or civil role.”



“Industry, Integrity – and, always, Students First.”

by Matthew Tompkins, Principal and Chief Executive Officer, GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai

Photograph of Matt Tompkins CEO and Principal GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai - here he discusses the vital importance of internships and links with industry in schools


Describe the personal and academic impact you have seen on students that have completed Virtual Internships?

“Through the virtual internship with the Financial Times, I have students grow and develop in a number of ways.  The experience provides them with a unique insight into the world of work and allows them to utilise the skills and knowledge they have developed in the classroom.  This both deepens their learning and expands their experiences.

On a personal level, I have seen students develop their confidence, their communication skills and their ability to listen and learn from others perspectives.”


How important is it for schools to build networks like those with the FT – and how important has GEMS been in supporting you build FPS networks with blue chips?

“I have been very open about my concerns that education and industry grow further apart every day.

To be more exact, education is standing still whilst industry continue to grow and evolve.

The relevance of traditional education is therefore becoming more and more removed from the skills and qualities that industries require.

We therefore need to supplement children’s education with opportunities to develop the skills that will prepare them for the rest of their lives.

Internships are fantastic at providing and experience for students to develop these skills but this can’t happen in isolation.

At GEMS FirstPoint School we run a holistic competency based programme that supports the development of the skills required to be successful in the world of work. This programme starts in FS1 and we finish delivering it at the end of Year 1. Our students then have the skills to continue to develop themselves so that they will continue to stay relevant as industry continues to evolve.”


Describe your view of the FT and what makes it arguably the best financial broadsheet and economic news intelligence provider in the world?

“When we discuss research with our students, we talk a lot about credibility and a students’ ability to trust a source.

The Financial Times is built upon an ethical code that we all trust and has a long held reputation that personifies so many values that we as teachers and parents are trying to instil in our children.

The FT reports the facts; they don’t deal in rumour or hearsay. As a result they are reliable – and their words add value to our knowledge base.”


Describe how proud it makes you to see GEMS FPS students engaging with blue chip brands and how well they represent your school – and themselves.

“I am incredibly proud of all of the students at FirstPoint.

The level at which our students are engaging with industry has been incredibly impressive.

An example? I was asked to support an interview with an industry based magazine last week. It involved one of the Directors of Siemens, 2 of our intern students, myself and Siobhan (who leads on industry links at our school), alongside the interviewer.

The first part of the interview focussed on the students and their experience.  The depth of their knowledge and the confidence with which they shared it was incredibly impressive.  Not only that, they were also able to speculate about the future of the industry and how the potential of power generation could evolve over the coming years.

But there is an even bigger picture than this at stake.

I see the impact that internships, and the development of close links with business and industry, has on our students’ studies.

These young adults are predicted top grades in their academic subjects, but this is thanks, in no small part, to the way they have been able to apply the theory they learn in the classroom to their industry placements.”


If a student at GEMS FirstPoint is set, for example, on a career in F1, or work on renewables in China, how would your school respond?  

“Everyone who works with me knows that I am motivated by one thing: the best interests of each and every child in our care.

Our school is passionate about finding and celebrating the greatness in every child.

Whatever that requires, my school, with all its outstanding teachers, does the utmost to deliver.



Notes for Parents

Click here to read our independent review of GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai.

Click here to visit the official GEMS FiurstPoint School web site.

Click here to learn how GEMS FirstPoint is launching cutting edge industry-led qualifications for students.

Click here to learn about GEMS FirstPoint School accreditation as a “Happiest School for Children in the UAE 2021-22”

Click here to access the Financial Times (student subscription required).


© 2021. All rights of the Financial Times and GEMS FirstPoint School reserved.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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