Name Eleanor Johnson
Internship Marketing and Communications Officer , Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District
Organisation Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District
Role Marketing and Communications Officer
Year of internship 2016
How did you find out about the internship?
I found out about my internship through the Careers and Employability Service's vacancy system.
Please tell us more about your internship organisation.
The Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District (BID) is an initiative which is trying to set up a BID in Stirling City Centre. This is about getting businesses to work together to collectively invest to local improvements that are additional to those provided by the statutory authority and providing a collective loud voice for the local businesses.
Together businesses can help reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth by making Stirling a vibrant, thriving city. However, since this involves an additional cash levy annually, based on the individual organisations rateable value, whether this is to be set up or not goes forward to a vote.
The Stirling BID and its Steering Group look to promote and advocate the potential BID and help administer the voting process by providing information on where to send votes, collecting opinions on what improvements everyone would like and educating businesses about the benefits of a BID to the centre.
What were the main tasks you were involved in during your internship?
My main jobs were to maintain the upkeep of a wide business database, varying from small organisations to multi-national companies. This involved speaking to all kinds of people in the industry in order to get the most up to date contacts who would be eligible to vote on behalf of their company. Sometimes this required a lot of research. Furthermore, I was out on the streets of Stirling liaising with the local business owners and managers, interviewing and listening to their concerns around Stirling City Centre and what they would like to see improved.
What did you enjoy most about the internship and why?
Believe it or not, I liked listening to the opinions of the local business owners the most! Positive or negative, I believe I learned a lot about the highs and lows of owning your own business, especially in my own community.
What skills have you gained and further developed from the internship experience?
Speaking to people! Before, I was never too good on the phone and the thought of pitching an almost sales type of call at the start of the internship scared me. Now, I can pick up a phone, know what I want out of the call, and handle it with a lot more style and confidence. The same goes for face to face contact. Due to the monetary factor, the internship was not without some resistance from local businesses. Through this experience, I developed a thicker skin and learned not to be apologetic over doing my job! Communication is key.
What were the most beneficial aspects of the Stirling Internship Programme for you?
The Stirling Internship Programme allowed me to gain valuable experience. It felt more like a job than an internship, which I love! The fact that it is in part funded by Santander is also fantastic! I live a couple of hours away and would not have been able to do this without getting paid alongside it. There was also support available from the University's Careers and Employability Service too, so at the back of your head you always knew if things got bad you had back-up, although luckily I did not need it.
What impact has this internship had on your personal development and your future career planning?
The sheer uniqueness of this project was amazing, I had no idea about BIDs before I applied and since have done a lot of research into all the BIDs around the UK and especially Scotland. I have decided, because of this, I will do my dissertation on the branding of BIDs this year. This experience is unique to me so I do not think anyone else will be doing it! I have also had support from the Deputy Principal Leigh Sparks through this internship, as he is Chair of Scotland's Towns partnership.
What impact do you feel you have had on the organisation you have worked with?
Before I joined, the organisation had a very outdated database, which would have been detrimental to the Business Improvement District going through. If the votes did not reach the right people, valuable votes would not be cast and this can have a large impact on voting turnout and even deem it null, wasting a lot of hard work put in by the Steering Board and Project Manager. I left my internship with an almost complete and up to date database up to that moment in time. Even if contacts change before the vote, there will now be an easier starting point at getting the correct information. There was also almost 3 times more communication carried out with the local community compared to the previous year, This will be of benefit to building a healthy perception and understanding of the BID and the benefits it can bring.
What do you see as the benefits of an internship with this type of organisation?
My unique experience has opened up a lot of doors for me already! I have also gained a strong understanding for something I knew very little about at the beginning of the
What advice would you give to students considering applying for an internship through this programme next year?
One hundred percent go for it! I never thought I would be picked. There were a lot of strong candidates going for this position and I thought being a joint honours student I would not have a chance. Now I have invaluable experience in a unique organisation that sets me apart. As long as you have a strong interest it will shine through. Also, get your CV and cover letter checked by the Careers and Employability Service before you send it off!