Who was your internship with?
My internship was with PLUS, who work across the Forth Valley providing support to children and young adults with disabilities to get out and have fun with their peers. By facilitating social and leisure opportunities for young people from 0-35, PLUS also provides parents/carers with a short break. They currently support around 230 families across 11 projects. In 2013, PLUS organised over 1100 activities with almost 4000 attendances at these events.
How did you find out about the internship?
I first heard of the opportunity to apply to the Stirling Internship Programme when a few members of staff from the Careers and Employability Service spoke at a few lecturers, informing students where to find information. At first I was unsure of applying for an internship as I was only in second year and preferred to wait until the summer between my third and fourth year. However, I received an email from the Careers and Employability Service with web links to internships with later application deadlines. Out of curiosity I had a look through them on the Careers and Employability Service website and came across my current role which captured my interest.
What do you see as the benefits of an internship with a smaller organisation?
From a personal point of view, it made the experience a lot less daunting and the role easier to settle in to, due to the small amount of people and work tasks to get to know. This meant productivity, learning and experience could begin immediately, which is necessary in just a 12 week placement. Also, working in a small organisation allowed me to work in a flexible environment with a degree of variety. I was able to develop experience in many different job roles and could see my contribution taking a positive effect. This also allowed me to discover what I would like to do in the future, and what I would not. Moreover, the hierarchy of a smaller organisation is more flat which means I had the chance to meet and work with all staff, including the CEO. Overall, I felt part of the team and comfortable, which in turn increased my motivation and productivity as well as my overall enjoyment of the summer internship.
How do you think the internship has helped towards planning your future career?
As previously mentioned, my internship allowed me to gain experience in different areas of office based/support based work. My degree is Human Resource Management with Marketing, so typically I was working towards an office based graduate role. Previous work experience made me feel that office work was not for me; however I was unwilling to set a judgement based on one place of work. My internship has confirmed my feelings towards an office-based role, despite this I have gained valuable experience and enjoyed it. On the other hand, I have discovered my desire and motivation to aid those who need additional support, whether this is directly or indirectly, and I believe this will affect the choice of organisation which I apply to when developing my future career.
What did you enjoy most about the internship?
I enjoyed most, if not all aspects of my internship. I particularly enjoyed getting a feel for what working life could be like after university, i.e. the typical 9-5 job, as well as keeping me busy throughout the summer holidays. I have thoroughly enjoyed fulfilling different tasks ranging from administrative tasks to phone calls to customers to working on 1:1 support with children with additional support needs; this helped me decide what type of job I will aim for in the future.
What skills do you feel you have gained from the internship?
I feel that I have both gained and further developed skills during my time working as a summer intern. Firstly, I have further developed my communication skills, both verbally over the phone with customers and with my colleagues to establish work tasks. I have also further developed my team working skills significantly. I actively took on delegated responsibility from my colleagues and successfully built positive working relationships that helped us all achieve the goals and objectives of the business. Moreover, I enhanced my organisation skills as I prioritised work tasks and worked productively and efficiently each day. Finally, I developed problem solving skills which were necessary to fulfil some of my roles, so I am now able to take a logical and analytical approach to solving problems and resolving issues.
What advice would you give to students considering applying for a Stirling Internship?
My advice would be “go for it!”. I was not going to apply for an internship, particularly as it was the summer between my second and third year and I felt that I would have less chance of succession than older students. Also, as many do, I doubted my own ability and had no confidence when applying – I was so surprised to be interviewed and then offered the internship!
It has been a very enjoyable and valuable experience. It has allowed me to realise what I want to do in the future regarding my career – a totally different twist from expected!
The application process for me was faultless and fast, however this may be because I applied for a late admissions internship and the Careers and Employability Service was very helpful with checking cover letters and CVs!
More academically, before my internship, my work experience was restricted to low skilled, part time work with a range of hours and working patterns. A full time placement as a summer assistant quickly implemented me in to a responsible working world which has helped to prepare me for a graduate job. From the beginning, being an intern has filled me with achievement - from gaining my place to watching my contribution positively affect the company.