Michael Capleton – Communications Officer with Disability ServicesSummer is long.
I found out how mind-numbing it can be when I decided that I didn’t need a consistent summer job after my second year ended. Not only was I bored, but I missed out on gaining vital experience to bolster my chances of getting a decent job once my time at the University of Birmingham comes to an end. I had to do something productive this time around. When I found out about the BUIP (Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme), it seemed eerily perfect for me. I didn’t have to move anywhere as I could stay in my current University accommodation. I was in a known and well-established environment. I wouldn’t have another wasted summer. But most importantly, it would set me apart from other students when applying for jobs. At the time, the BUIP offered 11 jobs and I successfully applied to the role of Communications Officer for Disability Services. The Communications Officer’s job was to update old resources or create new resources which were aimed at disabled students or the people working in contact with them.
Because of my role, when I started the internship, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to create something of my own that would be useful to the University or whether I’d just be doing the work that no-one else wanted to do. As the first week progressed, it felt as though the latter was true as I was just checking computer files and mapping out information. However, as the internship progressed, I realised the importance of my first week tasks.
In the second week, I started to get a surprising amount of freedom and if I’d not been collecting information during the first week, I wouldn’t have known what to do. By collecting all that information, I could see gaps in the information the University of Birmingham were providing to their students. I highlighted these flaws and created solutions. For example, a lot of disabled students didn’t know that they had to register with the disability services in order to get reasonable adjustments put in place upon their arrival. To combat this issue, I created a checklist which detailed tasks that students must complete before their arrival at the University of Birmingham. This checklist was attached to an e-mail that was sent out to disabled students on A-Level results day. Hopefully, this will inform students who need to register.
Creating and executing an idea of your own is extremely satisfying. It makes you feel proud when you’ve positively affected the University through your own independent methods.
One of the major advantages of doing a BUIP compared to an alternative internship is that you have been on both sides of the coin. In partaking in the BUIP, I can use my experience to tailor to the students’ needs, hence making the resources I produce more applicable which I would not have been able to do elsewhere. Not only that but I directly benefit from improving resources for students as I am a student. It’s a win-win scenario. To expand further on this, the skills I’ve gained from the BUIP such as arranging and hosting meetings, working with computer software far removed from Word and Excel and direct communication with staff and students alike, are not only useful for future career paths but also my work as a student.
Ultimately, I’ve had a great time on my BUIP. Not only have I gained useful skills and experience, I also feel very proud of what I have given to the University of Birmingham. However, I feel that I would not have enjoyed this internship or learnt as much if I had not been able to give my own thorough solutions to the problems given before me. So I would say this for any future intern or student considering doing the BUIP, ‘The more you provide to your job, the more you gain from the job.’