Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme: HE from the ‘other side’

Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme: Social Media and Database Analyst Intern

Pursuing further professional development and work experience, I decided to engage myself deeply in the work of the University of Birmingham. Being in my second year and trying to take the initiative, I made the decision to make the effort for my own good and attend several of the numerous Careers Network workshops that guide you through the process of successful internship applications and interviews. Spending my time applying for the so-called ‘big companies’ internships, and completing their lengthy application forms was exhaustive and time-consuming. I wanted to perform well at my course assignments but at the same time to find an internship that will provide me with useful practical experience. As a result, I found my current internship position: Social Media and Database Analyst, which is part of the Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme and was advertised by Worklink. Going through the application was demanding but the process was smooth and easy. In the end, I got an email saying that I was successful and would be an Intern in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), which solidified my interest in seeing the other side of higher education – being involved behind the scenes in improving the quality of work at my own University.

Going to my first working day I was wondering what exactly I would be doing and would I be limited only to the database analysis that is obvious from the job title. All of my expectations were exceeded when I found out that the EPS Alumni Department is preparing the first ever Alumni Newsletter for each of the 9 schools. As a result, I found my internship split into two parts – for the first two weeks I was looking at the extensive database system trying to establish the contact between the University and all of those graduates who either have not been in touch with the University since they graduated or for one or another reason their details have been lost. For the first time I realised the importance and power of LinkedIn as a social media tool which links people on a professional level as well as helps to find out about people’s career and education. This is how I managed to find the contact details of loads of lost alumni and help my department get back in touch with them. This whole effort will be rewarded when at the end of the month our Alumni Newsletters will be distributed to all former University graduates, including the ones I found.

As I said, my internship was split into two. Thanks to my manager Kathryn Chedgzoy, who allowed me 2 weeks off, I represented the University of Birmingham at the Universitas21 Summer School ‘Human Rights’ at the University of Connecticut and managed to broaden my mind on the extensiveness and complexity surrounding the concept of human rights. When I came back two weeks later, I found myself in an even more exciting office environment by being presented with more responsibilities. I had to gather information and compile academic profiles to all recently joined EPS academic members for the alumni newsletter. In addition, I was introduced to the main university web software and I had the responsibility of uploading new articles for the college. All of this made me think how two years ago when I was applying for the University I was reading the website and now I am the one that is able to ‘post’ articles that will be viewed by thousands of people.

To conclude, this internship provided me with the opportunity to be on the other side of the University of Birmingham – not as a student, but as a member of staff. As Rebekah explained in a previous blog, all of us, the interns, were trained as if we are permanent members of the university staff which made us feel welcomed and valued. Moreover, this internship showed me the extensive number of people who are coming to work every day, even outside term time and who make sure that all students receive the best service. As a result, I found myself learning a lot in terms of professional etiquette as well as some University secrets…

Yanitsa Dyakova

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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