Case study – Interning at Barnardo’s

Business Management student Kara shares her experiences of being a Business Development intern at Barnardo’s this summer.

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Hi, my name is Kara and I have spent the past three months volunteering as a Business Development intern at Barnardo’s. I initially applied for the role as while I have found the supply chain and procurement modules interesting in my Business Management degree, these often focus on the process from the buyer’s point of view. The thought of interning at Barnardo’s stood out for me as I thought I could enrich what I have learnt through exploring the process from the supplier’s perspective as well as working within the charity sector.

Barnardo’s provide over 900 diverse services to children and young people throughout the UK – from fostering, adoption, children’s centres, counselling for those affected by domestic violence or sexual abuse to helping young people into employment and training. This completely surprised me as, like many people, I had thought of Barnardo’s as solely a fundraising and campaigning organisation – a golden example of why doing company research before applying pays off!

As a Business Development intern I assist the BDU team in winning tenders and bids (i.e. contracts) for Barnardo’s. My role has involved supporting the team through providing research for current and upcoming tenders. I have completed competitor analyses, partnership profiles (sometimes Barnardo’s will deliver in conjunction with specialist partners), attending meetings, and filling out ITT (invitation to tender) requests and PQQ’s (Pre-qualification questionnaires).

However it hasn’t all been sitting at a desk all day! I have been able to make numerous visits to Barnardo’s services such as the Redditch Wheels Project, Amazon project, West Brom Childrens Centre, and Defuze in order to help me with my work and see first-hand the work that Barnardo’s does. I think this is really important when working in a charity – it can be too easy to get caught up in paperwork and meetings and forget what it is really about.

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The work I’ve done over the summer has really had an impact and this is so motivating. For example, I have been supporting a large implementation project (post-tender) where many staff and centres are facing much change by being transferred over to Barnardo’s. I compiled a HR frequently asked questions guide to reduce anxiety among staff and ensure they are as informed as possible. I have also been supporting management in this project through being responsible for the setting up and recording of team implementation meetings – being able to follow how senior management have implemented such a large project and dealt with change management has really been interesting, as I will be studying a module in the area when I return to University so it is great to know that I already have real life experience of the situation to support my studies.

My line manager has been great in supporting me and ensuring that I have had enough to do. We have a fortnightly one to one meeting where I can discuss my progress and raise any issues. The internship has also brought additional benefits to my CV – I been able to participate in safeguarding training, diversity and equality training (which I got a certificate for!) and a CV and interview skills day.


I’d encourage any future students to think about an internship in the charity sector. At the start of the academic year I thought I needed to gain a paid internship with a big graduate employer and have to move out somewhere completely random in the UK to get anywhere experience-wise. I didn’t realise how competitive this process would be and this put me under a lot of stress. Getting rejected from those internship schemes meant that I started looking closer to home – and I am so glad I applied for an internship with Barnardo’s. While I understand a voluntary internship may not be for everyone, Barnardo’s have tried to make their internships as accessible as possible through reimbursing lunch and travel expenses, being flexible towards part-time working and just by understanding that interns need part-time jobs too! I am very fortunate that Barnardo’s were impressed with my performance and have offered me further paid work.


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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