Work Experience in Higher Education: Careers Network

I tried not to have any expectations of what my internship would be like before my first day so that I wouldn’t over or underestimate any aspects of it. I had a vague idea about the different roles in Careers Network like some staff work specifically with certain colleges and others work on different scheme like the Personal Skills Award team but I had no idea what the people behind the Careers Network Newsletters and emails were actually like.

Having said that I tried to avoid forming expectations about my time with Careers Network, I was still slightly nervous walking into the office on my first day. However, this anxiety soon faded away as I was introduced to different members of the team and each of them seemed very interested in the projects I would be working on and very willing to offer their expertise to help me with any problems. Before long, I was comfortable arranging meetings with different people to discuss my ideas and the specific projects I was completing that they had had experience in like events planning and marketing.

The range of projects I was given seemed at first quite daunting, as they were challenging tasks and I was working independently on them to meet deadlines. Although, after I settled down into the first two projects, I realised that I had underestimated my capabilities. I drafted a marketing plan, taking into consideration the advice I had been given in my meetings and created three online surveys in my first week

I applied for this opportunity because I had participated in a lot of Careers Network schemes like the PSA (Advanced), the Gateway Bursary for work experience and the mentoring programme and I wanted to learn how this organisation functioned and contribute something to their service. One of the projects in the job description was an impact survey to determine whether Careers Network should continue to offer these schemes judging from the benefits they had given to students and graduates. This was the sentence that grabbed me. I wanted to be involved in the process that determined whether students like me could continue to gain financial aid for unpaid work experience, valuable contacts through the mentoring programme and recognition for the volunteering, society participation, work experience and paid employment that the PSA offers. This is still very important to me and I hope the surveys show how beneficial these schemes can be and that the report I write will mean these opportunities remain available for future students.

So far I have developed my ability to multitask by juggling the various tasks to ensure I meet each deadline and create a good standard of work also. I have also enhanced my ability to manage my time effectively. I found that taking a break from one task by moving onto another and then returning to the original task is a great way to stay focused. I have become more confident in meetings and small one-to-one discussions, asking for more information when I need clarification and even challenging suggestions made to me.

The best part of the internship so far is being treated with such maturity. I work alone on the projects asking for help when necessary. I arrange my own meetings if I need to discuss an element of a task with an expert.

Experiencing behind the scenes of the University is very enlightening. It makes you consider the time and consideration put into creating and promoting employability schemes, the stress and exhaustion of planning a networking event and the team work and organisation of running Careers Network as a whole.

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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