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Internship Case Studies

Why do an internship?

The main benefits of undertaking an internship are to:

  • Provide evidence of previous work experience to potential employers
  • Enable students to explore a field of work/industry sector
  • Enable students to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and further improve essential transferable skills such as team-working and commercial awareness
  • Enable students to build their confidence
  • Enable students to gain an understanding of how theory and research relates to practice in an employment context
  • Provide students with opportunities to network with industry contacts
  • Provide students with an opportunity to earn money

Below previous second year BASc students talk about what they learned on their internships and how it has impacted their future career decisions.

Virginia Alonso Navarro - internship at Aktis Strategy Ltd

Virginia undertook an internship with Aktis Strategy Ltd, an international development consultancy.

What she did

During my internship, I assisted Aktis in the drafting and preparation of project proposals, evaluations, and implementation plans. I mainly helped produce reports, which would then be sent to clients after a more senior member of the team checked my work. Additionally, I assisted my supervisor with the development of the online client database and updated the company’s track record. I spent one week in Turkey assisting in one of their projects, and have also worked as an interpreter during meetings between Aktis staff and clients. I also took part in meetings with Aktis associates, and took part in a one-week-long training on strategy consultancy delivered by senior Aktis staff. Throughout the eight weeks, I received mentoring and one-off trainings with specialised staff on the business development of the company within the aid industry, the client database, and how to use the Excel worksheets for budgeting and implementation plans, which required advanced Excel skills.

Did it meet her expectations?

My aims and expectations were exceeded in all possible ways. Not only did I learn about the work that Aktis does, but also about the broader picture and the way in which the aid industry works, with all its processes and stages.

I was not expecting to get such constant support and mentoring; my supervisor organised individual trainings and coordinated other members of staff (both in and outside UK) to instruct me with relevant tasks – and even to meet with me for coffee to chat about their work. From the beginning, she had a series of meetings and trainings arranged for me, which I found enormously helpful throughout the rest of my placement.

Towards the end of my internship, I did not expect to be given so much trust in terms of the responsibilities that I was given. This made me work even harder, and I feel I learned a lot from being put ‘out there’ and being pushed beyond the intern position.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I have definitely improved my writing skills; I am now more able to produce a well-written piece of work in much less time. In fact, I feel my efficiency has improved in many different ways: I have learned how to say more with fewer words, and how to stick to the point and hence to focus specifically on what the reader (in our case the client) wants to read. I have also learnt how to make a report or a text a ‘winning’ piece of work by enhancing the layout and through the use of language. All of this is vital for Aktis, as their business development is guided by the development projects they get selected to work in as a consultancy.

The internship has influenced my future career path in that I have gained a deeper understanding of how the international development sector works and most importantly how my skills and interests fit within this context. I have learnt about the process of funding projects in the international aid industry and have gained deep insight into the situations of many of the countries the firm is working in.

My internship has allowed me to hold eye-opening discussions with senior staff members and other international experts. These conversations have introduced me to new ideas and development work that mixes environmental engineering and security sector reform. These are two topics that interest me, however until then I had never thought of applying both in one same project.

Jack Anderson - internship at Oxford House

Jack interned at Oxford House, as their Heritage Lottery Fund intern.

How and why he secured the internship

For my application process to Oxford House; I had to send my CV with an attached cover letter explaining what I knew about Oxford House, why I wanted to work there, why I wanted that particular position (Heritage Intern), and what relevant experience both academic and professional that I had for the role. I had a lot of help from the Careers Internships Team with my application; they really helped me create a relevant cover letter and CV for my application.

What he did

I came to Oxford House at the preliminary stages of their Heritage Lottery Fund application which set out three objectives as part of their project:-

1. To fix the roof to protect the Victorian chapel in the building

2. Create heritage activities over two years

3. Transform the back of the building to open up a cafe onto Weavers Fields (the park next to the building).

As part of the preliminary stages of this project I was responsible for coming up with potential ideas and themes that could work as part of the heritage activities. This involved me looking at annual reports, looking through the boxes of stuff that was left from long ago at Oxford House, visiting archives and also trying to find first hand information from people who had been going to Oxford House for a long time. As I was only there in the early stages of the project I am yet to see how my ideas will be used in the heritage activities ahead.

I also helped to create and carry out the survey for Heritage Project which took a lot of planning.  During the survey we discovered that many people answered one of the questions incorrectly because it was not clear enough how we wanted them to answer it.  This taught me about the importance of clarity when you are writing something for an audience.

My second responsibility involved helping with the launch and maintenance of the Bethnal Green Business Forum (BGBF). The BGBF is a scheme run by Oxford House in order to offer businesses a forum to discuss collective problems and offer resolutions. One of the outcomes of this was that the forum resisted the rise in fees that was proposed to have a market stall on Bethnal Green Road.

Another aspect of the forum was that it created a website called lovebethnalgreen.com which was designed to promote the businesses of Bethnal Green and offer news stories of events and activities that were on offer through articles. I was responsible for getting new businesses on board which meant going out and speaking to people face to face in order to convince them of the advantages of being on the website. Later on in the internship I wrote many articles about the kinds of events that were happening in Bethnal Green from week to week. We managed to get well over 100 businesses on the forum and the number is still rising.

Did it meet his expectations?

My aim was to learn more about how charities work and whether I could see myself working for a charity in the future. I also wanted to learn more about heritage work and how exactly this is carried out as well. I feel that these aims and expectations were met. Although I learnt that I am also very interested in helping local communities and speaking to people within that community. I also was able to write articles which I wasn't really expecting to have the opportunity to do.

How has it impacted his professional and personal development?

I feel that I have improved my interpersonal skills through having to speak to so many new people in Bethnal Green from all sorts of different backgrounds. Also I feel that I have better knowledge of how charitable organisations work and also how to make formal reports using statistics. I think that through doing the internship it has made me consider the possibility of working for a charity and also the possibility of journalism as I really enjoyed writing articles.

Anna Ashford - internship at Habeas Corpus Project

Anna completed an internship was with Habeas Corpus Project (HCP) - a non-profit organisation that provides pro-bono legal representation to individuals held in immigration detention in the UK.

What she did

I had previously volunteered with the organisation, working there every Wednesday. I became aware that they were looking for a summer intern to assist with their caseload. I wrote an email to the charity’s Director, who was happy to accept me for the internship role in light of my work previously done for the charity.

My time at HCP was predominately spend undertaking casework for our clients in immigration detention. This involved acquiring, organising and synthesising information about a person’s case, assisting in the process of deciding whether the HCP could provide representation and if so, what that representation would entail. Finally, it meant drafting and lodging the chosen representation, and following it through until the case could be closed. The results of this activity, in the best cases, meant the release of clients from detention. In some cases, it involved referral of clients onto other services they could benefit from, such as legal aid or to human trafficking services. In other cases, it involved the clarification of a person’s situation, and the provision of legal advice.

I assisted in maintaining our client database, both on paper and digitally. This involved dealing with client confidentiality and producing basic statistics and graphs about our client base. The result of this was calculating HCP’s statistics for the first half of 2016, which was publicised in a blog post, and discussed at the quarterly trustees’ meeting. The result was also refining a system for open case files. I also had to restore our SharePoint system at one point when it stopped synchronizing, which now runs more efficiently.

I also wrote numerous blog posts and edited scripts for HCP podcasts, of which I feature in two. This was to publicise the HCP and raise awareness of detention issues.

Did it meet her expectations?

Before starting work at the HCP I expected little, aside from that I would learn a lot about immigration law. My aims were to gain familiarity with legal terms and documentation, and governmental policies relevant to immigration law. I wanted to practice drafting legal documentation and learn how to communicate with different agents in a legal setting.

However, thinking that I had few expectations of the organisation, I realise now I had many expectations of the law, and its ability to be used as a tool for fighting injustice. Immigration is a very controversial topic in today’s society, and the practice of immigration detentions marks its criminalisation. However, I was shocked at the inefficient bureaucracy and negligence I found entrenched in our legal system. I was greatly disheartened at the arbitrary barriers I found sustaining the inaccessibility of the law for many. Particularly I was concerned with the initial lack of access to valuable advice, and secondly how much the quality of representation can have on the outcome of a case.

Likewise, my expectations as to the variety of cases I would be exposed to ranged much further than my expectations. In this respect my aim of becoming more familiar with casework was achieved. I gained a profound and invaluable insight into detention law and its limits. I also practiced reading and formulating legal arguments. I received great support from both my employers in respect to developing, practicing and feedback on all the casework I did. The office was very open to questions, easily facilitating the growth of my legal knowledge.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I developed numerous hard skills, including the use of phone, email, postal, SharePoint, fax communication and storage systems. With all of these came the development of my soft communication skills, especially in acquiring difficult and confusing information down the phone. A key communication skill I had to acquire was communicating to individuals in vulnerable situations. This required compassion and empathy, but most importantly clarity in terms of our provision of representation, and what that would mean.

The internship massively facilitated my personal development, as I learnt about my capabilities to manoeuvre highly emotional work, whilst maintaining productivity and professionalism. This included developing interpersonal relationships with both my employers, and the range of volunteers. Working in such a small office, taught me about what such an environment was like. Noticeably, this comes with the benefits of flexibility, but the drawbacks of lack of structure. This has been an invaluable experience for me in this respect.

How has the experience affected your career goals?

Prior to working at the HCP I was already emotionally and intellectually invested in the work the organisation does. Working there only developed my interest and knowledge, and as such I shall return to the organisation as a volunteer. Furthermore, the experiences I have gained from working there are incredibly valuable for my desire to pursue law.

By doing an internship with the HCP I would not only be greatly exposed to the law surrounding immigration detention, but would be working directly under an immigration barrister with over 5 years’ experience. I gained a very useful insight into the legal avenues one can pursue for release. I also acquired a wider legal knowledge of immigration law, and the legal process specific to the UK.

This has certainly provided me with an experience that will influence my decision to pursue law, and if so with what specialism. I am now more sceptical as to whether pursuing law is right for me, but have gained relevant work experience if I wish to do so.

Alison Cheung - internship at Google London

Alison undertook an internship with Google London.

What she did

This was my second internship in Google’s marketing department. Last year, I was working on marketing and launching Android devices in the UK and managing the relationship between Google and their UK telecoms partners. This year, I interned in the Large Advertisers and Agency Marketing team, which focuses specifically on helping the leading advertisers and agencies to make the most of the web in the EMEA market. This essentially comprises of showing them the opportunities of digital and how Google solutions can play a key role in helping them achieve their performance goals. Essentially, we’re in charge of shaping the future of many of our core Google products, such as YouTube and Adwords, by leading every facet of the product’s journey, from determining positioning to competitive analysis and external communications.

My role was managing the promotional strategy of Think With Google. This is a platform that offers Google-specific trends, data, insight, tools and success stories to advertisers and agencies to help them do their work better, inspiring them to get the most out of the web and giving them the confidence to make bold research-based decisions. Google has access to a lot of highly valued data, which we converted into high-level insights and useful tools to share with leading advertisers and agencies, helping them carry out better marketing campaigns. Day-to-day, I worked on building brand awareness through social promotion of Think With Google, collaborations with thought leaders in the marketing and advertising industry as well as increasing subscriptions to the newsletters and making sure that the platform is the ‘go-to’ for advertisers and agencies who are looking to find compelling data and creative inspiration. I also worked alongside creative agencies to come up with campaigns to expand Google’s reach amongst the target audience – mainly marketers, advertisers and agency planners.

Did it meet her expectations?

One of the best things about this internship was the level of autonomy and responsibility. At the beginning, my manager asked me what I wanted to get out of the internship and I told her I wanted to be treated as a full-time Googler. I wanted to see whether I could handle the workload, so, at the moment, I’m juggling about 10 different projects! I even had the chance to sit in on meetings with the chief marketing officers and chief strategy officers of world-leading agencies, which was pretty much unheard of for interns! Google also encourages you to venture into other areas that you want to explore and where you want to develop your skills; for example, I’m trying to get into data analysis, so I spent some time been playing with the data we got from our paid media and newsletters, and tried to gather insights that could help improve execution. This involved ‘cleaning up’ the data from Google Analytics and Marketo, and collecting findings that are statistically significant, then sharing these in a way that the wider teams could understand.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

The application process for Google is quite unconventional compared to a lot of companies so applying for this role gave me the opportunity to develop my interview technique and learn about how to be successful when applying. There are a lot of different routes into the company. Googlers are generally known for being good at building connections so I have learnt that to be successful you have to go the extra mile to meet people and getting involved in events related to Google and the industry. During the interview process, I think it’s really important to show your personality. I’m quite expressive and excitable, which I guess came through during the two phone interviews I had. From the research I did pre-interview, I knew they were looking for creative, adaptable and quick-thinking people with strong communication and interpersonal skills, so I made sure to demonstrate that I had these qualities and to also quantify my past achievements. The interviewers ask challenging and open-ended questions that are designed to explore how you think but they’re also really friendly and helpful – you have to remember that they’re already interested in your CV! Google likes people who are curious and who challenge the status quo so it’s important to not be afraid to ask lots of questions.

One of the best things about interning at Google is the company culture. Obviously there are a lot of great perks – free food, massages, a gym and yoga sessions – but I think what makes it so unique is the people. There’s not a hostile or overly competitive environment, and you’re constantly surrounded by people who are not only incredibly intelligent and creative, but also friendly and encouraging. The company really cares about the wellbeing of its employees and I think they balance work and personal life really well. It’s also a great place to grow and learn: they want to ensure that you get what you want out of your internship, whether it’s working on your weaknesses or consolidating your strengths.

Throughout my internship, I made sure to draw on the range of skills I learnt from my degree but also from my extracurricular activities. The BASc is such a flexible and interdisciplinary course, which I think really develops your problem-solving skills, as you eventually learn which discipline to tap into to solve a real world problem. As the Director of Global Talent for the UCL chapter of AIESEC, I matched over 100 students to different volunteering exchanges in 6 continents. The role also involved a lot of marketing and customer segmentation; I quickly realized that UCL students are very career-oriented so I made sure to highlight the opportunities for gaining transferrable skills and employability from the programme. I think Google liked that I had this experience, even though it wasn’t in a corporate setting, and that I’d gone out of my way to gain some skills in a volunteering position.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

After I graduate, I definitely want to stay in marketing within the tech industry. I’d love to eventually come back to Google as an Associate Product Marketing Manager, although the position is really competitive, but then I’d also be interested in potentially working for a high-growth and fast-paced start-up at some point. On another note, I’ve considered pursuing an MBA or a postgraduate degree in marketing, although this would probably be at a later stage. And I’d love to one day have my own business – it’s just about coming up with a great idea that actually solves a real-life problem. Fortunately, at the moment, my options are really open.

Misha Deville - internship at Amazon Web Services

Misha’s internship was with Amazon Web Services, Cloud computing infrastructure and services provider.

What she did?

Over my 10-week internship at Amazon Web Services I was fully integrated into the customer-centric and open culture of the company, carrying out a range of tasks and taking on varied responsibilities. I was first placed in the PR team where I worked with journalists, wrote articles, drafted briefing books and monitored media coverage. However, the flat structure of the company allowed me to proactively gain experience in many of the other teams as well, such as doing data analysis for the sales team, working on a personal ‘innovation’ project with the public-sector team and, shadowing as well as helping run events with the start-up business development team. I also carried out long term projects with the other interns, helping to organise a charity fundraiser for The Prince’s Trust, and a Taster Day event for the AWS re:Start programme for military service leavers and programme partners. Alongside this, I and the other 15 interns were also tasked with exercises and trainings to help us discover more about the culture of the company, and cloud computing technology.

Did it meet her expectations?

I was completely taken aback by how integrative and supportive the internship was. It exceeded all of my expectations of what an internship involves. For instance, I assumed I would be doing a lot of administrative work, but instead I found myself thrown straight into the deep end helping to run the press room at the AWS London Summit which hosted 6,000 attendees, in just my second week. I was trusted with writing articles and managing accounts, as well as being given the opportunity to speak to some incredible clients such as the CTO of Ocado.

As someone who had never considered a role in the technology industry before, I learnt an unbelievable amount about the roles of tech companies such as AWS in the wider context, as well as business strategies such as their leadership principles which act as the backbone of the company.

The organisational culture was very open and encouraged sharing ideas and accomplishments between teams. One of my favourite aspects of the organisational culture at AWS was their philosophy of ‘two-pizza teams’, which stated that all teams should always be able to be fed with just two pizzas. Ensuring small teams encouraged participation with other teams on projects, but also meant everyone always felt involved and committed to their team.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

In terms of personal development, I gained much more confidence in our interdisciplinary model of education which had before worried me in terms of employment as, I felt I didn’t have a specialty like many of my friends from other courses. I think BASc can sometimes be daunting when applying for jobs because we do not strictly fall under a certain discipline. However, I found that in a real working environment, particularly AWS which deals with customers from all sectors, having an understanding of multiple disciplines and ways of working was infinitely more advantageous. The ability to approach problems from different perspectives, as well as take on a whole host of different roles meant my integration into AWS was very smooth and natural.

For instance, my crossover between cultural anthropology and cognitive science was invaluable to my work at AWS. For, technology, particularly cloud computing, requires a scientific and technical understanding of mechanisms, but also a humanitarian perspective of the social issues it arises such as cyber security and globalisation. AI for instance is modelled on the networks of the human brain, but there is huge debate concerning self-identity. I also found my background in creative subjects, such as Fine Art and Architecture, which had always seemed slightly redundant to me, actually gave me an incredibly helpful mind set in terms of innovation and strategy.

Both professionally and personally however, a vital part of my learning, was learning to take more risks. To be less prescriptive, but not to consume too quickly. I think I finally learnt what it means to grow organically, and not to panic about my next step, as seeing just how fast the tech world is changing, there is no way I can predict exactly where I will end up and in fact doing so will only restrict me.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

The internship has definitely affected my career plans, as I never saw myself working in technology. My previous plans had a stronger focus in digital marketing and advertising. However, I found the tech space much more exciting as it has greater room for growth and is constantly changing and evolving at such a rapid pace. I was incredibly grateful to also receive a place on the AWS grad scheme, so will be continuing my career along this path, and I hope to work in the Start-up Business Development team, as I found the role had a balance between marketing and sales. AWS also helped to put me in contact with the tech start-up Visii, who specialise in an AI powered visual search engine, so I will be carrying out work experience with them throughout the year.

Octave Habert - internship at Matter of Form

Octave undertook an internship at brand interactions agency Matter of Form.

What he did

Activities included:

  • Working with development and project management teams to test and resolve faults in soon-to-launch web and mobile application systems.
  • Helping to develop brand strategy and visual expression systems for MOF agency and World Economic Forum.
  • Brainstorming digital concepts and user experience flows for the World Economic Forum.
  • Devising creative ‘through-the-line’ ideas (inc. TV) for a new heavily funded start-up.
  • Writing content for the MOF website and PR purposes.
  • Developing an awards entry map to help the agency better plan its submissions.
  • Producing a global editorial events calendar to allow the social teams better visibility of important dates to leverage in their regional campaign planning.

Did it meet his expectations?

I expected quite a lot from this internship: I wanted to confirm if my desire to work in a small businesses/ start-up was genuine, and if it was an area that truly motivated me. I wanted to assess the skills I learnt at University and during my previous internships, and to discover not only in which ways I could be useful to a company, but also which of these ways would suit me most in terms of interest.

I also wanted to see how it is to work in a foreign country (I had only worked in France until then), and to know how well I could adapt to a different professional culture. Finally I expected to create contacts with different people in the company in order to start discovering the professional landscape awaiting, and to start building an experience that could serve me in my further job search.

I was pleased to see that my eagerness to work in the world of start-ups has been strengthened by this experience, even though I also learnt that it could be beneficial to start in big firms in order to understand crucial mechanisms of growth. Concerning my skills, it is true that the flexibility I developed in Arts and Sciences served me well in the diversity of tasks required. I also started building a small professional network that can reveal itself useful in the future.

How has it impacted his professional and personal development?

Since interning at Edjing – a musical mobile application - in 2013 and taking the course Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice in 2nd year at UCL, I gained a basic understanding as well as an underlying passion for the world of start-ups. This internship at MOF came out of a desire to pursue my knowledge of new ventures and to explore the areas in which I would be most at ease.

The first great impact of this internship is that I realise the importance of digital skills in any developing start-ups. I clearly developed a growing interest in the digital world as well as a desire to learn more digital skills such as designing, SEO’s, or UX. Knowing my limits in these areas allowed me to know what I could further dig into.

Helping the HR director in recruiting a designer, I gained a double skill: the obvious one was to learn how to differentiate candidates and to spot the most suited to a role. This could be described as an analysing and observing skill. The other crucial skill I gained was that of understanding the implicit requirements of any recruiter, thus providing me with a capacity to make better future applications.

Another way in which this internship shaped my understanding of the professional world can be explained by my participation in different meetings held by the project managers. In each of those we discussed in turn about MOF branding strategy and visual expression systems, as well as the marketing strategy of some of its clients such as a heavily funded start-up, or even the user experience flows for the World Economic Forum. In assisting these meetings, I gradually learnt how to observe, absorb information, gain a concrete understanding, and finally give my opinion when I felt I could really bring in something. I could really participate in the creative process and gain insight into how innovative schemes get developed. Not to mention that they required acuteness and conciseness, skills I consider essential in the professional world.

A great advantage of working at MOF was that, as part of an agency, I could work on different stages of different projects and thus see the global picture of companies’ development in only a few weeks. It is a great pleasure to work within a very ambitious company that seeks to drive its efficiency, its productivity, and its size forward.

Harriet Harkcom - internship at Cancer Research UK

Harriet’s internship was with Cancer Research UK, the world's largest independent cancer research charity

What she did

I worked within the London events and events marketing teams to help develop and execute the Race for Life events across the region. Working to deliver the regional marketing strategy and expand the on the day experience, I was responsible for:

  • Performing the risk assessment on the Hyde Park course, to ensure the safety of the thousands of people from across the city participating in the event.
  • Engaging with local community groups in order to book entertainment, to maximise the on the day experience for participants. I was also involved with the marketing of the events.
  • The delivery of promotional events for the London Races, from the analysis of data sets to establish the best locations for promotional events through to their booking and delivery.
  • Developing the CRUK Events London social media campaign.
  • Conducting radio interviews promoting Race for Life across the country.
  • Coordinating large groups of volunteers to ensure their participation was effective on the day.
  • Assisting the Event Manager with course design, marshal locations and site design.
  • Distributing marketing materials.
  • Providing administrative support for the regional marketing manager.

Did it meet her expectations?

My expectations were met. My manager, Tessa, was amazing. Ever patient and very approachable, which allowed me to ask questions and learn as much as possible from the job. I also feel like I was genuinely beneficial to the company – previous experience I have completed has left me feeling like a spare part with lots of time spent doing very little, which was not the case at all with this internship.

There was a lot of own time management in terms of how I split my time between different tasks – and after a few weeks I got my head around it but perhaps a little more guidance in the first few days would have been useful! However, overall I very much enjoyed the experience. The team were really enthusiastic and fun to work with, and learning on the job gave me the opportunity to gain knowledge we can’t read about on our degrees. Attending a Race and seeing what you’ve worked so hard on come to fruition in a meaningful way was a genuinely moving experience.

I have exchanged a few emails with my managers since leaving the job. Although the Cancer Research Graduate Scheme falls under another department and thus they were unable to offer me a job for when I graduate, they made it clear to me that they were willing to support my application, so I will reach out to them if I chose to apply to Cancer Research UK’s graduate scheme.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

This internship has made me realise that I am more capable then I think that I am. I realised that It is okay to have questions and that good companies don’t expect you to have all the answers straight away and are keen to train you. At the end of my internship I asked for some constructive feedback and they said I needed to be more sure of myself because I was usually doing the right thing and asked for affirmation unnecessarily. My confidence has generally increased, for example speaking the public and to corporate companies heightened my confidence in public speaking and communication. Beyond this I expanded on practical skills such as research, data analysis, developing an argument and learned how to conduct myself effectively in a corporate setting.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

I was more interested in the marketing side of the company then I anticipated, whereas before commencing the Internship I thought I was going to be more interested in events. However, I found myself enjoying the process of consumer research and data analysis being turned into a practical output to engage the public. I have since taken the time to research marketing and advertising more and completed a placement at Spark44 – the advertising agency partially owned by Jaguar Land Rover. I have realised I am interested in turning data into a creative output and advertising seems like the best place to do this.

Zohra Hasham - internship at Towers Watson

Zohra undertook an internship with the professional services firm Towers Watson.

What did she do?

I participated in their summer intern programme for penultimate year university students in the Retirement Practice and was based in the London office. The internship programme stretches across all of Towers Watson’s offices in the UK and many of the different Lines of Business.

For the majority of my internship I was office based and performing actuarial work, similar to the work given to a first year graduate joiner. This work included a wide range of calculations along with drafting communication and presentation materials. During the first couple of weeks of the internship there were training sessions on many aspects of the work; the standards, services and software used internally and in the market.

Each intern is also part of a team of interns, along with a project mentor, who work throughout the internship on a project supporting the diversity groups within the company. Each team then gave a presentation on the final day of their internship.

Did it meet her expectations?

My aim at the start of the internship was to gain an understanding of actuarial work, see if the culture of Towers Watson was fitting to me, make some contacts in the field, develop employable skills and secure a graduate job offer which includes training for the Actuarial Qualification.

I had access to recent graduates and qualified professionals, all of whom were more than happy to answer my queries. My experience confirmed that I would like to work at Towers Watson in the future. I am also hopeful of getting a graduate offer.

Throughout, there was support from the Towers Watson’s associates. Additionally, I was assigned two buddies, one of which I was seated next to. She assigned and explained work and answered general questions. This was a strong point of the internship. I met my line manager at the start, half way point and then at the end for a final review. I had feedback on my performance; it notified me of my strong points and areas that I could develop on, which was very useful.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

This internship has greatly improved my communication, team work, professional excellence and commercial awareness of the pension and actuarial field. I have developed a greater understanding of working for a large international corporation and the varying levels of impact one can have.

Personally, I have grown my social and people skills. I have met a host of interesting people varying in every way imaginable and intellectuals beyond doubt, yet they all work cohesively in an almost mesmerising way to produce great work for their clients. I have made great contacts not only within the Retirement Line of Business but with fellow interns across the UK. I now definitely want to work for Towers Watson and am sure that I want to be an actuary.

Zohra has since been offered a graduate position with the firm starting in 2015.

Susanne Malik - internship at the English National Opera (ENO)

Susanne’s internship was with the English National Opera (ENO), a charity with the aim of making opera of the highest quality accessibly to all.

What she did?

During my internship at ENO I was assigned several different projects. My first task was to create an induction pack for new employees to the company, which was a great means for me to get to know the company, its diverse departments and staff. For this project I conducted informal, semi-structured interviews with people from different departments, drawing on knowledge I learned in the core course Interdisciplinary Research Methods in first year. After researching existing induction packs and best practice, I synthesized the information into a proposal of what the final product (a booklet) should look like and what information and sections to include. I then began collating the final product by gathering information from the various departments through numerous meetings, emails and existing documents. This included information about the company, such as its mission, vision and history, policies and code of conduct, amongst numerous other sections, making for a very comprehensive final product. Getting to know the individual departments and their roles and functions through my interviews was one of the most fascinating aspects of the internship for me.

My second major project was in collaboration with the Marketing and Communication departments, which involved researching and writing reports on market development strategies. This was my favourite project, as it really helped me get a feel of the company’s work and challenges. The research focused on competitor analyses, comparisons of website structures and layouts, as well as suggestions for promotional opportunities, partnerships, and how best to reach specific target audiences. Subsequently I created an action plan calendar that outlined marketing initiatives to pursue and implement in the coming year, together with their respective timeframes and estimated costs. Additionally, I generated a comprehensive database of communication channels for specific target audiences with short descriptions and contact details.

My final project was creating an induction pack for the ENO Board, which involved a great deal of independent research on duties, rules and regulations of Board members and trustees. I also collaborated with Board members and various ENO staff to gather information. At this point I was relatively familiar with the company and staff, which made the project a great deal easier since I knew who to contact for specific information. This project helped me improve my presentation skills, as I was introduced to a new style of presentation with distinct layouts.

In addition to these main projects, I worked with the Development department to create survey questions in response to categorized audience data segments. Furthermore, I fulfilled other small tasks like creating charts or updating databases as and when needed.

Did it meet her expectations?

My internship at ENO definitely exceeded my expectations, as it embodied interdisciplinarity in more ways than I could ever have imagined or expected. The departments ranged from ordinary ones like Finance and Marketing departments to more creative ones like Wigs and Makeup, the Orchestra, Chorus and Artistic department, to unexpected ones like Hat-making. Despite their great diversity and highly dissimilar roles, they were all working towards the same end goal – their mission of making high-quality opera performances accessible to all. This made me realize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, putting my studies in the BASc into perspective. I came to understand the vitality of having a mission statement that guides a company in order to achieve a shared goal despite underlying differences in areas of expertise and methods of operation.

I was positively surprised to find how much relevance the practical experience had to the existing theoretical knowledge that I had accumulated in my time at university. Information from the BASc core courses was of particular relevance, especially Interdisciplinary Research Methods for conducting research and interviews, and Approaches to Knowledge for noticing and understanding the interdisciplinary alliances and connections within the company.

I was expecting to get an insight into the arts and heritage sector, however I gained a great deal more – transferable skills, connections and a newfound love and appreciation for opera and performances.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

This internship will definitely resonate with me. I have witnessed interdisciplinary collaboration in action and I have recognized the importance thereof; without teamwork, cooperation and most importantly coordination of the diverse departments, the company simply would not function. Furthermore, I expanded my insight into the professional working world, as I worked the full hours and days like all other employees. Much of what I learnt and developed are transferable skills such as setting up, preparing for and leading a meeting, efficient note-taking, and time management. I was given the liberty to organize my time and meetings the way I wanted to, so long as I had all work completed for set deadlines. The feedback I received on my reports was invaluable and definitely of help for the future, particularly concerning the formatting of PowerPoint presentations.

On a personal level, I realised the importance of being engaged with one’s work and the cause one is working for. In fact, in my spare time I enjoyed learning more about opera and the wider industry, watching opera productions and going to see other theatres and productions in London in order to gain a deeper understanding of the work I was doing in my internship. I ascertained that in order to perform well at a job, it is vital for the employee to identify with the company’s mission statement and vision, which I certainly did with ENO.

Moreover, I have acquired a much deeper understanding of the arts and heritage sector as a whole, in addition to the immense challenges that are faced by charities, including funding, media presence and youth engagement, to name a few. I obtained an understanding of the workings of a large charity and the experiences, insights and connections I have made are of great value to me both personally and professionally. I was able to see the work that goes into opera performances on stage, behind the scenes, as well as out of sight in the offices where I was working. Most importantly, however, I was able to witness the co-dependency and counterpart importance of the respective intrinsic parts.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

This experience has confirmed and furthered my interest and desire to work in the arts and heritage sector in the future. The vibrancy, diversity and creativity that I observed through my work at ENO have definitely inspired me to strive for a job in this unique and fast-paced industry. Each day at work posed different challenges, which often required fast action to be taken so as not to affect the performance standard of the company. Moreover, working with the CEO and senior managers of the company was insporing in that it has provided me with excellent role models of accomplished and hardworking people.

To me the greatest takeaway of this internship is knowing that my work was useful for the day-to-day running of the company and that I made valued contributions. The survey questions I created for the Development team, for instance, were used to send out to ENO’s clients for their annual survey, my work for the Marketing and Communications team will be used for the development of future audience engagement projects, some of my suggestions for promotional opportunities were adopted, and the induction packs I produced will be used for years to come.

Imogen Malpas - internship at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Imogen’s internship was with the environmental conservation charity RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).

What she did

After applying to the RSPB in early summer for conservation-related work requiring no scientific experience, I was placed at Loch Aviemore, an osprey reserve in Scotland. My duties included monitoring the ospreys’ behaviour and noting down their activities both night and day, as ospreys are a highly endangered species of bird and careful monitoring is required to ensure that they breed successfully, do not become ill or injured, and are not stolen from their nests by opportunistic collectors (something that has happened more than once on the reserve!). All interns were paired at the beginning of our time at the reserve, so that we always worked with at least one other person. This meant that my intern partner and I spent every third night out in a hut in the middle of a forest, watching the osprey nest through binoculars to guard it from intruders. The rest of our time was spent in the visitor centre, welcoming visitors to the reserve with information about the ospreys and answering all kinds of questions about wildlife and conservation practises. We were given accommodation in fully equipped log cabins a few minutes’ drive from the reserve, where we stayed with the full time staff, a very friendly group of all ages who would often cook for us in the evenings. There was no internet and very rarely any phone signal, so on our occasional days off we would listen to the radio, read or play cards, and hike the beautiful hills and lakes around the reserve. It wasn’t the most conventional internship experience, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in living off the grid whilst learning a lot about conservation and being able to get very involved in the life of the organisation from day one.

Did it meet her expectations?

I didn’t go into the internship with many expectations, as I really didn’t know what to anticipate, but I can certainly say that what few expectations I had were surpassed. The staff were keen for helping hands and so gave myself and the other interns lots of duties, such as leading visitor presentations and running osprey observations right from day one of the internship, something that really made us feel useful and involved with the reserve. I learned a huge amount, not only about niche areas of British wildlife but also about the day-to-day running of a conservation charity that largely relies on donations and volunteer support, including money troubles and other such problems that frequently arose.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I really enjoyed the experience of working at a non-hierarchical organisation; it was emphasised that interns and full time staff should be treated as ‘equal’, and even higher-up members of full time staff such as the Reserve Director took time to chat and work with us. It really felt like we were all equal members of a team whose goal was to promote conservation and respect of the natural world, which was a refreshing change from the atmosphere of other places I have worked. This experience also taught me to expect, and embrace the unexpected: had I entered the internship expecting a 9-5 office job experience, I may have been negatively surprised by the amount of hands-on work and public interaction that was required of me. As it was, I tried to stay open-minded, and so really enjoyed the range of tasks I was given.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

Working at the RSPB has made me realise that, whilst I may not wish to pursue a career specifically in conservation, it is very important for me to work at an organisation that concerns itself with environmental issues and isn’t complacent about its impact on the natural world. It was also eye-opening to experience a working environment that encouraged its staff not to prove themselves better than their peers but to help them, and thus help the whole organisation, grow. It has become a priority for me to seek similar attitudes in other organisations that I may wish to join.

Maja Mazur - internship at Norton Rose Fulbright

Maja undertook an internship at global legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright.

What she did

I participated in their summer vacation scheme which meant that in addition to work experience I was also able to participate in skills sessions, delivered by the in-house Learning and Development team, as well as attend breakfast briefings on each of their departments to better understand the type of work that takes place at Norton Rose Fulbright.

In addition to the skills sessions and briefings, I sat in two departments during my placement and was able to participate in a variety of legal work from legal research to attending meetings or even court. A particular highlight was being able to use my language skills to get information from a ministry abroad.

Norton Rose Fulbright also provided plenty of social opportunities including a night out playing ping pong, dinners with trainees, associates and partners, and pro bono activities including a trip to a local Law Centre.

Did it meet her expectations?

Before starting my internship I expected to get a better exposure to the legal world, especially to the ways of working in a global legal practice. I also wanted to examine types of tasks undertaken at Norton Rose Fulbright, the culture of the company and degrees of responsibility given to trainees.

My original expectations were all met and exceeded, since I was given a lot of real ‘trainee’ tasks and exposed to client contact, as well as to official group meetings, something I did not really expect to experience. Also, I was given a lot of support from my supervisors and was really surprised to see how much advice they were ready to give. Despite being busy with their work, they would always provide a background, both legal and commercial, to the deal I was to help with, which made working on smaller tasks much more interesting and engaging. I greatly increased my commercial awareness due to being able to talk with market experts from sectors that interested me and due to regular workshops, which presented us with legal practice areas overview, I improved my knowledge of the legal market and challenges it is currently facing.

I definitely did not expect to receive neither such a thorough training in the legal market knowledge nor any of the skills sessions I attended. For instance, we were given a three hours long presentation skills session, which combined theory and practice and was probably one of the best presentation skills sessions I have ever attended (followed by an individual, constructive feedback). Moreover, it was a part of the group project, which also involved a presentation, hence giving us one more opportunity to show our skills and how we improved as a team.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

The internship allowed me to reconfirm my suitability and willingness to work in the commercial legal sector in the future. I found the type of work done by Partners really interesting and rewarding. I increased my commercial awareness, learnt a lot about market developments in regions such as Africa and gained a better exposure to the realities of working in the City.

What I did not expect to improve but I certainly did, were my interpersonal skills. The amount of networking and social events, which were organised as a part of the scheme, allowed me to greatly enhance my communication skills, self-presentation and confidence.

Overall, I found the experience really rewarding and I can definitely say that being a student of an interdisciplinary degree made adjusting to the demands of my internship much easier and enjoyable than it was for most other students, who found working with various technical terms very intimidating.

Also, I have changed my module choices for the third year, since I realized that taking a module related to business or project management would be very beneficial for my future career. I also learnt to use legal research tools and increased the efficiency of my research, as well as writing, both of which will surely prove very useful in my third year.

Finally, being able to talk with people in different stages of their legal career allowed me to narrow down my own preferences and discover the criteria I should be using to make my own choices; such as the pace and scope of transactions, international aspect of my job, etc. It also motivated me to keep working on my language skills, since I could see them being extremely useful.

Maja has since accepted the offer of a training contract with Norton Rose Fulbright.

Riana Minocher - internship at London Borough of Camden Children's Services

Riana’s internship was at the London Borough of Camden Children’s Services Integrated Early Years Service.

What she did

This internship involved creating a suite of uniform evaluation tools to measure the impact of Family Support services provided by the Camden Council IEYS. I first designed a Parent-friendly Common Assessment Framework (CAF), along with a complementary spreadsheet to analyse results. The questionnaire was designed with consideration of services provided, aims and goals of Family Support teams, and target groups within the area. The spreadsheet was formulated to calculate and compare results in terms of locality, ward, ethnicity, and age of child. Breaking down the analysis will allow the Family Support teams to identify which areas of service require most attention.

I then created a template for a ‘Closing Letter’, sent to parents at the end of each case. In addition to designing the layout and content of the letter, I created a supplementary guide for Family Support Workers (FSW’s), to describing outcomes and results of cases. This will improve the focus of the letters sent and makes clear to the FSW’s how to address parents at the end of each case. Finally, I also designed a template for a ‘Case Study’, in a similar manner to the Closing Letter, which is used by Ofsted, a body that inspects IEYS Children’s Centres.

Did it meet her expectations?

I expected that my understanding of analysing large amounts of data and working with databases would improve. I did find that I built a strong understanding of this, however, I found my internship to be far more rewarding than I initially thought, as I had expected some less challenging tasks such as data entry. Instead I worked from the beginning on creating an entire evaluation tool, which was far more challenging and autonomous, which gave me a great sense of satisfaction. My internship supervisor was easy to reach and supportive from when we made contact about an interview and therefore I expected the same support, which I received, while I was at the Camden Council. I did expect that I might be working with individual Family Support managers on different tasks but my work was reviewed by the Senior Locality Manager and Senior Family Support Manager, and I think this is because I worked on documents and tools that would be used across localities.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

This internship has been a learning experience in many ways. I have been able to develop my technical skills using Microsoft Office, specifically Excel, and explored methods of visualising and analysing data. This is so, especially because the data analysis I performed was more abstract in a sense, as I had to formulate how to measure results without actual data to work with. It taught me to open my mind and think beyond what the numbers and responses reflect. I found this is a more effective approach because I could prepare an analysis without being influenced in any way by results, which would lead to a fairer study.

Beyond furthering technical skills, working within a big organisation allowed me to observe of the level of structure involved in running and managing a large workforce. I was able to see how each individual department coordinates amongst themselves and with other departments, and found that a high level of communication and transparency is necessary. However, I also learned about the value of working within a small team as each department would be divided into smaller teams which work together, and therefore was able to view the benefits of working closely with a few individuals but still in the context of a large organisation.

Finally, I feel I learned a lot about how the values and ideals of a department of the Camden Council might differ from those of other sectors, which was a valuable aspect to this internship.

Sveva Scenarelli - internship at The Wellcome Trust

What she did?

My work at Wellcome involved a blend of smaller, day-to-day tasks and four projects with varying scope and importance. On one hand, I was involved in tagging thematically in a spreadsheet the funding applications received by the Humanities and Social Science (HSS) team.

For a group project on AI and Mental Health, I co-authored with other interns a report scoping the activities in the field undertaken within Wellcome Trust, which we presented to the Neuroscience team in a panel discussion. I also cooperated with my intern colleague in a short survey of HSS’ web presence, giving recommendations on design, visibility, and usability of their webpages.

One of my two individual projects was a scoping of the Digital Humanities (DH), with a focus on DH activity in Medical Humanities – my task was to describe the state of the arts, discuss case studies, and finally suggest an investment strategy in DH for the HSS team. These findings were to be presented in a report, and discussed in a presentation to the whole HSS team.

Finally, my main project was at the convergence of Software Engineering, Digital Consulting, and Business Analysis. I was responsible for acting as a bridge between HSS and Wellcome Trust’s Digital Team, helping start the optimisation of the data analysis software platform Tableau to improve HSS’ management of their portfolio of investments in research grants. I collated HSS’ requirements for the usage of Tableau, correlated these with business rationales, and translated them in a format that would be actionable for software engineers. The final output consisted of a small database containing taxonomically ordered requirements; a pilot of user stories created on requirements; a short report and how-to-guide for the HSS team on Tableau; and a handover document for whoever would continue the project, describing its currents state.

Did it meet her expectations?

Because the job description was very vague, I based my expectations on the Wellcome site’s description of what the HSS team does overall. My impression that I would be assessing applications for academic research funding turned out to be completely wrong – but in a positive way!

I was expecting to read many academic papers, but my work really challenged me in areas that I had so far left untapped: investments, business analysis, consulting. It was wonderful to be able to get a foot in the door in these fields, which I had always considered way too beyond me, in a “safe space” such as the humanities (which remain my degree major and my point of strength). Regarding skills, I was expecting to mostly improve my ability to build interpersonal relations and to learn about the impact of the humanities not only in academia, but this was just the tip of the iceberg! I learnt a lot about leadership – of others and especially of self – and project management, two skills I had always found I lacked.

My Manager was fundamental in the great success of this internship. She was extremely diligent but flexible and attentive to my responses. She listened to me and helped me set my goals at the start of my internship for the whole period, but she also helped me set daily and weekly deadlines, and would check back with me every week not only about my work, but also about my feelings about the internship and my highlights and difficulties. She helped greatly in me re-focusing on my targets and provided me with essential encouragement, but also in scouting opportunities for me to grow as a person and as a professional in the areas that I had indicated to her such as leadership.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

My team really succeeded in giving me projects building on my background, but challenging my abilities so that I would have to learn new skills along the way. The variety of the workload, and the different sizes and scopes of the tasks, trained me in project management and handling multiple deadlines at once. The Tableau project built on my good interpersonal relations and knowledge of technology, and challenged me greatly in learning business analysis, operational intelligence, as well as liaising between the agendas and needs of different teams. I also learned some of the criteria that underlie investments, while I was given the opportunity to challenge others’ opinions and develop leadership and a distinctive voice and approach to work.

I wish I had known that job descriptions that are vague do not equate to you doing the same job as the team would normally do, in both the negative and the positive sense. It can be slightly disorientating to walk in on the first day of the job thinking about a certain role and then discovering that tasks and projects are different from what one expected - the most important thing is to keep an open mind!

How has the experience affected her career goals?

While I have realised that Wellcome Trust may not be the place for me at this moment in time, it has strengthened my interest in academic research, but even more it has opened my eyes to possibilities I didn’t consider before, such as Digital Consulting, Data Analysis, or Investments. Finally, I have also realised that my main driver in work is that of having a positive impact on society, which is a condition on which I evaluate roles.

Natasha Tennant - internship with Auto Express

Natasha undertook an internship with Auto Express at Dennis Publishing.

What she did

I monitored the social media feedback on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

I also helped to organise and run the New Car Awards event, including looking after the guests, the entertainment and managing two people in my team.

Did it meet her expectations?

I aimed to gain a better knowledge of what a marketing job entailed as often it is a very broad job term – my internship confirmed this and I noticed the job was company specific and often veered into PR. I was well supported and made to feel welcome at my Host Organisation and by my supervisor.

I expected promotions to be social media based due to the current trends and increase in web use but I was shocked to find that most emphasis was on web sales and advertising despite the primary media being print; there is a definite shift away from print content and a greater demand for the shorter web style in order to turn a profit.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

The internship has forced me to get over avoiding phone calls as it was essential to answer and call people in my day to day tasks. I have learnt a lot about how a website works to make money and where the magazine will purposefully put emphasis. There is a trend toward product placement as a form of advertising as people become more frustrated with endless you tube adverts and I learnt about click through rates and how these affect sales. I have become much more business aware particularly from a sales aspect of marketing – learning how to use your knowledge of your sales to market the product back to companies investing (via advertising) and also back to your customer was invaluable and something I really enjoyed getting to grips with. After having such an important role in the orchestrating the New Car Awards, I really enjoyed the role in PR and it’s definitely something I would consider for my future.

Jo-Ann Yeo - internship at Vanilla Ventures

Jo-Ann’s internship was with the social enterprise Vanilla Ventures.

What she did

During this 8 week internship, the interns were primarily responsible for providing operational support for Vanilla’s key programme for this June-August period, which was CharityWorks. What this entailed was:

  • Assisting in the operation of the Assessment Centres and Selection Days. This also involved creating individual profiles to enable interviewers to understand the location and placement type preferences of each candidate prior to the interview.
  • Collating and processing all data from the recruitment process
  • Creating the framework necessary to aid the full-time staff in making matching decisions between candidates and roles available. This was a core component of our work, because Vanilla had never before handled CharityWorks at such a scale. Hence, there were no prior frameworks in place to do this. We created this framework from scratch, narrowing the large store of data available into reader-friendly formats.
  • Composing the template document for providing feedback to candidates regarding their assessment centre performances
  • Writing individual candidate profiles for successful candidates for partner organisations to gain a quick insight into the candidates we are proposing for matching
  • Creating overall placement candidate recommendation documents to be sent to partner organisations as the final result of the entire recruitment process, including information on every stage of the assessment process

We were also involved in conducting research on various topics, including:

  • Big Data: Using data to make management and recruitment decisions
  • Reviewing CharityWorks assessment process and the role of (i) psychometric tests (ii) screening (iii) assessment centres (iv) interviews
  • Alternatives to Google Alerts for tracking partner organisation news
  • Reviewing Vanilla Ventures’ Impact Story
  • Market research on current consultants providing services regarding complex family matters, as a first steps in consultancy project with Family Action

Did it meet her expectations?

My aims for the internship were to:

  1. Build teamwork skills
  2. Network with people from different professions and nationalities (especially since the staff were mainly English natives)
  3. Gain insight into the non-profit sector

I would say they were all met, and exceeded my expectations. Because it was a small organisation, I had the privilege of working closely with the team consisting of mainly English nationals, as well as my intern partner from France. This experience has been valuable because I have learnt to work with vastly different people, and realise that culture and nationality has little to do with working well as part of a team because that in fact has more to do with working ethic.

Also, because it was a small organisation, I could be closely involved in many aspects of the operation of the organisation. I was very grateful for this opportunity. Even though a lot of our work involved administrative tasks, I was thankful for the amount of trust the team granted us to deal single-handedly on the data. They relied intensely on us for many aspects of the CharityWorks process, and because of this I feel our learning curve with regards to this initiative was insanely steep.

Third, being part of the CharityWorks process has been a privilege because it was the perfectly poised to learn about the non-profit sector. On assessment days, we met with a wide network of ambassadors from other non-profit organisations, and throughout the process, we had to learn about over 60 partner organisations and work closely with them. This has given me tremendous understanding of the sector, which was exactly what I was seeking.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I feel the primary impact the internship has on professional development has been that I have gained a comprehensive understanding of the non-profit sector. As alluded to previously, the internship was invaluable to the extent of giving me the privilege of being highly involved in non-profit work due to the small size and highly interdependent working style of Vanilla Ventures. As a result, I gained much insight into how a non-profit company works (all aspects of operation), as well as the sector as a whole (due to CharityWorks).

In terms of the work that I undertook during the internship, it mostly helped me to practise my administrative skills in a business context.

The internship has been helpful in allowing me to make more informed decisions about my future career plans. I have always been interested in the non-profit sector but I have never had working experience in it, excluding volunteering ones. The 8 weeks with Vanilla has made me think about a few points regarding work in the sector, such as: the financial aspect of working in the non-profit VS private sector (lower salary), the nature of the work (back office VS front office, operational VS corporate…etc). Overall, I feel it is an experience I really needed at this point of my life.

Reviewing my career plans, I feel the internship has confirmed for me that I need to work in an organisation that stands for a cause I believe about strongly, to drive intrinsic motivation and purpose. I have concerns regarding being at the frontline everyday and possibly I may not be suited for such a role. However, I have learnt that there is a wide spectrum of roles even in a charity, ranging from marketing to business development to finance. Certainly, my desire to explore the non-profit sector has been strengthened.

Nina Djukanovićová - internship at Demos

What she did

I have assisted my supervisor with creating a report on the socioeconomic impact of ADHD. This was the biggest project I have worked on during my time at Demos and one that I was able to follow from its beginnings to the moment of it being published. I have conducted desk research, transcribed interviews, and written profiles of interviewees. As a result, the report called ‘Your Attention Please: The Social and Economic Impact of ADHD’ has been published with great interest from many subjects and my supervisor has included my name in the Acknowledgment section of the report (available here).

I have also worked with other people at Demos and under departments other than the Social Policy, such as Modern Economy and International Projects. For the project ‘A Best Practice Guide for Veterans in Residential Care Settings’ I have conducted a desk research of best international as well as UK practices in home cares, most notably by using technology in order to keep the elderly active. For the project ‘The Roots and Manifestations of Nostalgia in Contemporary Western Political Cultures’, I have conducted a desk research of a situation in Spain, one of the five European nations that the project is focusing on.

I also had an opportunity to write a blog about any topic that I was interested in and I have received a feedback from three colleagues at Demos which allowed me to significantly improve the piece and to develop my writing skills. I explored the question ‘Are We Moving Away from the Idea of ‘Borderless World’?’ (available here).                                                                                                    

Finally, during my time at Demos, I took part in many internal meetings which made me feel like a valuable part of a team. When my supervisor was brainstorming new ideas for Social Policy research with Demos’ director, I was invited to join the meeting and I was able to contribute with some ideas, which was for me a very valuable experience.

Did it meet her expectations?

I was expecting to gain more confidence in my abilities and decisions, to learn about internal processes of a think-tank, and to improve my research skills. Demos as well as my supervisor were extremely helpful, and my expectations were exceeded. My supervisor met with me every week for a catch-up meeting to see whether I was happy with things that I was doing and to talk with me about my improvement and development. The support provided by Demos and my supervisor was enormous, be it in day-to-day activities or in my overall personal development.

How has it impacted her personal and professional development?

Thanks to the internship, I was not only enabled to learn how Demos works, but also about the broader picture of how a think-tank and a charity works. I have gained an understanding and awareness of research organizations and the non-governmental sector in general. I also learned how internal as well as external processes of a think-tank work, which means that I now understand how to write a project proposal, how to secure a funding for a project, e.g. how to apply for a grant, and so on.

In terms of my personal development, I have learned how to observe processes in a think-tank and how to express my opinion in an assertive and effective way. I have also learned what issues are connected to social policy in the UK, especially in terms of health policies and welfare services and how to improve my research skills.

In terms of my professional development, I have learned what I have enjoyed the most during my internship, and that was working on projects with a direct impact on people’s lives. This helped me gain a clearer picture of my future careers plans.

Kay Ean Leong - internship at Glass Magazine

Kay’s internship was with Glass Magazine, an online and print quarterly publication focusing on fashion and lifestyle.

What she did

I was an editorial assistant at Glass Magazine for one month. My daily tasks included writing up short fashion/beauty news stories, handling social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and liaising with PRs. Daily administrative tasks included collecting mail from our courier service, delivering mail to PR and brand companies and ensuring the office was kept clean. I was also tasked with writing up longer travel and fashion pieces for print, transcribing interviews and doing research for. The best thing I got to do was Paris Fashion Week Coverage – I attended some Paris Fashion Week presentations and runways, handled social media during the week, met with brand PRs and wrote up fashion show reviews very quickly!.

Did it meet her expectations?

Definitely. I had previously work in the fashion department of a newspaper but this internship gave me a lot more creative freedom with my words, which I definitely enjoyed. I got to learn more about the London fashion scene as well – how fashion weeks work, how print publications are scheduled and organised, how many people from different parts of the fashion industry come together to put a magazine together. The best thing about this internship was that the team was very positive and encouraging – they pushed me to do my best but also gave me the space for my own development by allowing me to focus on my writing style. Even though I had already officially finished my internship with them before Paris Fashion Week, they were generous enough to let me represent the magazine in September, and even now, I still write the occasional piece and attend the occasional event for the magazine. It was a small team – in the office, I sat with the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor – and I think that made for a very intimate and personal experience, where I got to learn a lot about their work, experience and progression in the industry.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I think this internship gave me a very comprehensive insight into the general workings of a fashion magazine. By giving me the opportunity to work at Paris Fashion Week I was also able to grow my connections. I now have a better understanding of what magazines here expect of interns, which I think will be useful information for my future internships. 

How has the experience affected her career goals?

If anything, this experience has reinforced my certainty that I want to work in the fashion industry. However, having opened my eyes to the PR side of the industry, I now also want to try my hand at fashion PR, which is at once very similar yet different from fashion journalism. The two work in tandem as fashion communication and a lot of the skills are transferrable. The internship has widened the range of career options for me. It has also encouraged me to work towards internships at larger, more well-known fashion magazines.

India Abbott - internship at Heritage Open Days

India’s internship was with Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,000 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers.

What she did?

I worked as a Social Media Volunteer with Heritage Open Days, which sees places of historical interest all over England open their doors to the public for free for two weekends in September. The first couple of weeks were about consolidating my understanding of HOD’s social media demographics, thus allowing me and another intern to create content geared specifically towards them. The main social media platforms I wrote posts for were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the content was generally a nice photo with a caption (of course these were adapted depending on the social platform) – I had quite a lot of “artistic licence” so the content of these could be anything from historical facts, to polls, questions and inspirational quotes. Since I joined the team in February, the event was still seven months off – so, with demographics in mind, I carefully created scheduled content that fit the overall theme of the organisation (history, culture, architecture and relevant, recent news such as new movies that had been filmed in historic English locations). The theme for that year’s HODs festival was also Women’s History – so a lot of the early posts were geared towards (subliminally) promoting this, which was endlessly fascinating to me as I was able to do lots of research and learn so much about so many inspirational women, past and present! I was able to visit other departments too, particularly the film department that told me about all the upcoming movies that had been filmed on National Trust locations (and even the secret code names for certain upcoming Marvel movies…)

As the event got closer, the posts took on more of a marketing focus – I would specifically promote the various events and historical sites that were opening their doors for free for the festival. As such, I was aiming to create content that was convincing and directly built public awareness of the festival. These were still interspersed with “lighter”, posts, however, so I was still able to be a little creative with the content I chose to post! It was great to have so much control over what would make it onto the various Social Media feeds, and the sense of responsibility and autonomy I felt was really good motivationally-speaking.

Finally, I was also shown to use Photoshop to change the HODs logo, and was invited to participate in the launch event at the Foundling Museum, where I had the opportunity to meet other people working in the heritage sector (I had someone add me on LinkedIn – result!).

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the festival itself as I jetted off to Canada for my year abroad in late August – but I heard it was good!

Did it meet her expectations?

It was really lovely to have an office experience that involved people who were incredibly kind to me and gave some feedback on my work. I find that feedback is incredibly important, as it helps guide you and improve –therefore, in this area the internship was good.

The opportunity to learn more about English history, particularly Women’s History, was also very welcome. This was done by my own self-driven research, giving me the autonomy I needed to appreciate the work I was doing. It also meant I felt like I was having at least a small impact on the organisation and the content it was producing.

Finally, the other intern, Carrie, and I, became really great friends. We went for lunch together every Friday and even organised to meet over the weekends. This exceeded my expectations as originally HODs were only looking for one intern, so I was worried about being lonely, particularly given the nature of a social media internship. This was not the case at all!

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

I believe it has opened the door for other social media and marketing internships – I have applied to a “Content and Engagement” internship at ASOS, and although they have reached no decision yet, I was invited to the second stage of the application process (interview). I am sure if I’d not done the HODs internship, I would never have been called back for an interview. I have also been put in charge of communications at McGill for their production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, and the internship at HODs has prepared me well for this in terms of knowing how to schedule content and make relevant posts. As such, I have been able to apply knowledge I gained while at HODs in a new setting. I also developed teamwork skills outside of an academic or retail environment. 

How has the experience affected her career goals?

I really enjoyed the more creative side of the internships and researching (hi)stories. I’m not sure, however, if the heritage sector, or indeed social media, is what I want my career trajectory to be based on. Despite the possibility for creativity, there is no denying that it is definitely limited. I would be keen to try something a little more “out of the box” next time.  I am very interested in stories and the ways we tell them, however, and the ways in which we can make them accessible – lots of this internship focused on this and I will take these skills with me whatever I do next – hopefully children’s publishing!

Watch three former BAScers talk about the importance of undertaking an internship and how it helped them after they graduated from BASc.