Elizabeth McWilliam

Business Studies and HR

Who was your internship with?

My internship was with STEP Stirling who provide business support and solutions to enable businesses get started, grow and find success. 

How did you find out about the internship?

During my third year at university, I was made aware of the internship as the Career Development Centre had put on a presentation about The Stirling Internship Programme, which advertised the opportunity.

What do you see as the benefits of an internship with a smaller organisation?

In my opinion the biggest benefit of working for a smaller firm is the exposure you are given to the business process as a whole. At STEP, I got see and experience different departments across the organisation and was able to understand how my role fitted into that on a daily basis. Working for a firm with a smaller hierarchy, which is a lot more integrated and personal, was a definite advantage. Different departments and different people work in different ways, and I think this is both recognised more and easier to manage in a smaller organisation. As a result, that is what makes it both unique and beneficial: you’re given flexibility to figure out what works best for you, but at the same time are accountable for both your success and your mistakes.

What skills do you feel you gained from the internship experience?

My internship at STEP has allowed me to gain better work habits in general. From assessing my workload and prioritising it accordingly to communicating effectively with both my manager and my colleagues, my internship has allowed me to become more competent as individual in the business environment.

How do you think the internship has helped towards planning your future career?

At STEP, I was given the opportunity to undertake an eclectic mix of tasks. Dealing with clients personally allowed me to become more professional, designing processes and documents allowed me to become more decisive and undertaking research allowed me to become analytical and aware of current HR issues.  Getting to experience such a fast paced and unpredictable environment so early on in my career has helped me become more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to utilize and work on these in order to allow me to work in HR in the future

What did you enjoy most about the internship?

Having the opportunity to work for STEP was both insightful and different to anything I had ever done before. It has allowed me to gain exposure to the field which I had studied for the past four years, and being able apply this in practice was definitely the most enjoyable part. Reading books and understanding theory is one thing, but to undertake that out with the safety net of university was challenging in a completely different way. Although true of any degree, I think it is very applicable and relevant to HR in particular - you’re dealing with real people, their livelihoods and their businesses. Although challenging, it was definitely rewarding - helping local clients overcome HR issues and improve their businesses is something I am extremely proud to have played a part in.

At STEP, I was given the opportunity to undertake an eclectic mix of tasks. Dealing with clients personally allowed me to become more professional, designing processes and documents allowed me to become more decisive and undertaking research allowed me to become analytical and aware of current HR issues.  Getting to experience such a fast paced and unpredictable environment so early on in my career has helped me become more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to utilize and work on these in order to allow me to work in HR in the future.

What did you enjoy most about the internship?

Having the opportunity to work for STEP was both insightful and different to anything I had ever done before. It has allowed me to gain exposure to the field which I had studied for the past four years, and being able apply this in practice was definitely the most enjoyable part. Reading books and understanding theory is one thing, but to undertake that out with the safety net of university was challenging in a completely different way. Although true of any degree, I think it is very applicable and relevant to HR in particular - you’re dealing with real people, their livelihoods and their businesses. Although challenging, it was definitely rewarding - helping local clients overcome HR issues and improve their businesses is something I am extremely proud to have played a part in.

What advice would you give students considering applying for an internship through this programme next year?

Gaining an internship in the field you’re studying is invaluable experience, both personally and professionally. Give it 100%, even on the days that you don’t want to: the more you put in the more you will get out of it! Good luck!

Please summarise your experience as an intern.

My internship has allowed me to experience the challenges of working in the field of Human Resources as well as highlight its importance in the business setting.  At STEP, I was given an eclectic range of tasks and was able to utilize the skills and knowledge which I had gained at university in practice.  Working in a fast paced and high pressured setting was both challenging and rewarding. Whilst my internship required a lot of hard work, I was able to see almost immediately how my role in the firm made a difference. By working on client issues, carrying out research and helping designing documents/processes, I was able to help both STEP and local businesses.

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