By the end of my second year of my undergraduate degree, I found myself in a common position: wanting to do something productive and useful with my summer, but not knowing what I’d like to do after graduation. Finding meaningful work experience can be difficult, and finding paid work experience even more so. I was happy to discover that the Employ.ed on Campus internships offer both, and the accessibility of the scheme is one of its major benefits, allowing students to support themselves during their work.
The scheme was recommended to me by a friend who had taken part last year, so I browsed through what was on offer and applied for communications-based roles – I study English Literature, I like writing, and I had experience doing some of the more general admin tasks involved. I had a couple of interviews across the university, and started working in the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) as their communications intern at the end of May.
For the first few days, the challenges were mainly adjusting to a 9-5 routine, learning everyone’s names and trying to navigate the IAD’s labyrinth of corridors. I am now in my fourth week and the time has flown! It’s quite a strange experience being on the ‘other side’ of the university, acting as both an undergraduate student and a member of staff. Working with the Researcher Development team on projects geared towards tutoring and teaching makes you appreciate how much work your lecturers and tutors put into their jobs. Being an undergraduate, I also hadn’t realised the extent of the research work that goes on within the university.
My communications role is slightly different to some of the more project-based internships; it doesn’t necessarily centre on one or two main tasks that need completing over the ten weeks, but involves lots of work across departments. Fortunately, the IAD is a lovely office to work in – it is small enough to know who everyone is, but big enough to encompass a wide range of people focusing on different aspects of the university. My role so far has involved working on the postgraduate and doctoral research course brochures, collecting data for the Beltane Public Engagement Network team on their website and social media platforms, and helping out with events. I also enjoyed helping out with the 3 Minute Thesis competition. Alongside that, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in the social side of the IAD, including the staff and secondees coffee morning and the IAD away day trip to the zoo.
Adapting to the workplace is something that I believe has to be learnt through experience, and I am confident I will leave university having picked up lots of the transferable skills necessary for starting a career, such as planning, organisation and time management. The internship is proving to be really valuable and I am looking forward to my remaining weeks.