How does one begin a blog about a summer internship. After researching other famous opening lines, I felt “call me Ishmael”, or “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune much be in want of a wife” weren’t exactly suitable. Instead, let me give you an overview of what I do. I’m the marketing and events intern in the Business Engagement team at the University of Birmingham. This team of people looks to signpost services that the university offers to businesses. They locate and follow through on engagement opportunities between researchers and industry, as well as offering other services including consultancy, access to funding and intellectual property licensing.
Why did I apply for a BUIP?
I came to the University of Birmingham in September 2014 to study English literature and history, and I managed to procure a marketing job at the Careers Network on-campus. At one of the events I was working at as part of that, I was promoting the BUIP internships and noticed that there was a marketing and events one that looked really interesting (and lucrative). I decided to apply, got a interview and then got the internship.
What’s my main task?
To create and implement a social media strategy for the Business Engagement team. To be honest, before I arrived, I thought I’d have little to do but tweeting all day – I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I’ve had to conduct research, learnt all about this area of the university, do a competitor analysis, and create (beautifully colour-coded) spreadsheets on my findings.
What is the most challenging aspect?
I’d say the most challenging aspect is juggling my different tasks. As I’m involved in both marketing and events, it can be hard at times to balance my time to
meet deadlines for both areas of my internship. However, I also enjoy the pressure!
At times, it can be challenging to sit at a desk for so long. I find listening to music helps me concentrate, as well as chatting my work through with colleagues and the other intern, Clare. I coincidentally happened to know Clare well before we started working in the same office, and I’ve found having another intern here has made it much more enjoyable! It’s always handy having someone else to eat gelato with on campus during lunch.
What has been the most enjoyable part so far?
I really enjoy my meetings with Connecting Element, the external digital marketing agency we’re using to train me so I can create the social media strategy for the Business Engagement team. There’s a lot of information packed into the hour sessions with them and I have to do hours of prep work (which I actually really enjoy, haha), but the meetings are extremely insightful and fascinating. They have definitely further inspired me to go into digital marketing in the future.
What was the hardest part of the first few weeks?
I’d never worked 9-5 before. It’s seriously tiring. During my last and my tenth meeting of my first week, at 4pm that Friday, I was exhausted. I went over my notes the next week to see that what I had written during that meeting was more scribble than words. I’ve gotten used to it now – it was an adjustment, coming from having nine contact hours a week to a doing just shy of thirty eight hours a week.
The baguettes from the office sandwich man, Cash, are certainly one highlight. Another would be seeing the first event that I’d led on and promoted; a stand running on two consecutive days offering information on funding for medical researchers. Making spreadsheets and corresponding graphs has become another penchant of mine. I’m learning how much I enjoy research, and improving my skills in it.
On 30th June, we had a stand at an event called Venturefest at the NEC. I was able to attend a seminar on student and graduate start-ups and speak to potential clients. It can be quite difficult explaining what the Business Engagement team does as their business activity is so broad. I enjoyed building a rapport with the people I spoke to, taking details down, detailing some of our services and handing out the marketing packs I’d helped put together.
What do you expect from the second half of your internship?
I have more sessions with Connecting Element, including three practical sessions, so I’ll be getting to grips with things like targeted LinkedIn advertising. We will very shortly be setting the up the Business Engagement Twitter, so there will be a lot of prep work to do over the next couple of weeks; we will be creating an editorial calendar, coming up with past content and creating new content that we can tweet.
What’s the most significant thing I’ve learnt so far?
The world is actually really complicated. As a student, we go from lecture to seminar, with most things being organised for us; we simply don’t appreciate how easy we have it. The “real world” is a different kettle of fish. It requires countless meetings, much admin, numerous forms and telephone calls to make it work the way it does. My internship has been eye-opening in that respect. For example, I had to order thirty doughnuts on two separate days for the stand I was organising. I thought, easy enough, it will require one phone call. No. Forms had to be filled out, people had to be consulted, emails had to be sent – endless organisation! You seem to spend ages calling people only to be continually passed onto someone else, to only find that the second person you spoke to was the person you needed in the first place.
At first I thought it seemed weird that we email each other despite being within touching distance, but it makes sense to have a written record. It may seem pedantic but having your calendar on the computer is really helpful.
To sum up in one word, my internship has so far been challenging. It’s definitely made me more determined me go into marketing, and I’ve been surprised by how much I’m enjoying the research and computer tasks. I’m almost as surprised at the fact that I sometimes have three cups of tea a day. I don’t even like tea that much, but it appears to be the lifeblood of British offices.
Expect another blog post at the end of my time at the Business Engagement team! #untilnexttime #stayclassyEdgbaston.