So it’s over. I’ve written my report, conducted my last interview, and finally feel I’ve gotten a clear overall view of the state of Information Security at the College. I’m already aware of a difference between me and the Sam I was before summer; for instance, I can communicate my ideas more clearly and explain them with a confidence that I didn’t have before. My awareness of myself has also expanded. The ways I’ve refined how I work, both through self-reflection and through my trusty managers’ suggestions, have given me a much better idea of how my mind works, what motivates me, and my own limits.
Understanding my own capabilities has also helped me understand what can be expected from other people in an organisation, which has fed into my understanding of how an organisation works as a whole. Before this internship, I’d only had experience of small organisations, often with only two or three levels of hierarchy (e.g. overall manager, sub-manager, general employee). However, interviewing lots of staff about what they do and looking at this in the relation of everyone else has helped me appreciate how different departments in an organisation communicate, work towards a common goal, and the challenges they face in this. This understanding has helped me make my findings more applicable to the College. For instance, I found that the limits of one department, which had to work in paper copies, was transferred to all other departments who communicated with it, as they had to use paper copies as well to communicate with this department. Understanding these requirements helped me develop some guidance which is tailored to the College’s needs rather than overly general.
It’s also been an absolute privilege to talk to so many interesting and intelligent people. Everyone has been happy to share their own experiences and ideas, and I’ve gotten a much better idea of what lots of departments do (like HR, who’s inner working were a mystery to me before), what it’s like to work there, and the skills they value most. What I want to do in the future is still a large and rather intimidating mystery, but this knowledge will guide me in deciding what I might find fulfilling (my plan is to come out of University with a five-year career plan).
Finally, I also think that my experiences have made me a much better problem solver generally. How I approach problems has changed a lot over the past two years. My home degree is English with Creative Writing, and at the end of my second year I generally approached problems in a general way, analysing problems in depth and coming up with initial ideas, but not coming up with clear and sequential plans to put them in practice (in other words I was more a thinker than a doer). Taking a year out to study Computer Science made me a lot better at thinking logically on a step-by-step basis. However my lack of experience in a real organisation meant I didn’t think about the real-world application of my planned solutions. Working in the College has really helped me bolster this, and I believe I have a much better idea of how my ideas will work in the real world, which helps inform my overall approach to solving something.
Altogether I’m coming out of the other end of the internship feeling far more capable and confident than before. Instead of viewing the future as a looming worry in the distance, I now see it as a challenging but exciting problem to be tackled. I’m really looking forward to applying everything I’ve learnt to my degree and future jobs, and would encourage anyone (including you, you handsome specimen) to take the opportunity to do something like BUIP, which engages and challenges you in ways you have not experienced before.