Pavinder Bhangu, BIA Internal Communication Project Officer (BUIP)This summer I worked as an Internal Communication Project Officer for the Birmingham International Academy (BIA). I decided to apply because I knew the internship, being 9-5 for 10 weeks, would give me a real taste of a professional job and prepare me for a graduate scheme. I thought a communications role was ideal, given my current student PR role at the University.
At the start of my internship, there was an issue: not enough staff and students knew about the BIA Insessional programme. In short, this consists of English language development classes offered to international students for whom English is an additional language. So, in order to combat this, I created a communications plan and a timeline which helped to structure our promotion of this BIA provision. As part of this, I liaised with Creative Media and set up meetings with them in order to create a new ‘identity’ (i.e. a logo) for this provision. This will lead to the production of new posters, postcards, banners and even e-cards.
I then set up a focus group of current PGTAs to find out what they thought of the new name we had given this new provision. Lastly, I created a database of key contacts across the University. This will be used to reach out to the different colleges/schools and offer help to students who are unaware of the BIA’s provisions.
By tackling this communications project, my IT skills definitely improved. Every day I was using Excel, Outlook and I frequently used PowerPoint (something I haven’t really done since GCSE!). By the end of my internship, my telephone and email manner had enhanced. Both were methods of communication upon which I was heavily dependent. Also, my time management skills have improved, from simply prioritising emails to having to delay (less urgent) work until a later date due to, for example, an urgent meeting or delays incurred in the production of our publicity material. These are all valuable, transferable skills I can use in the professional world.
My internship exceeded my expectations, primarily because I was given so much responsibility in handling my communications project (it made a welcome change from shadowing professionals or making them tea, something I often found myself doing in my past professional experience!). The University is much more fast-paced than I thought and, although operating on a tight budget, it very much operates like a business be it from a Creative Media department to even having a hotel! So, I definitely have not dismissed work in higher education as a career choice.
My internship has had some obstacles along the way, the main one being a lack of response to emails as many staff were on annual leave during the summertime. I was only an intern for a limited time, so sometimes I needed a response urgently in order to stick to tight deadlines. I overcame this by sending polite reminder emails as my communications plan heavily depended on the information sought. After this second email, I found most staff had responded.
I most enjoyed the independence I was given to carry out the project. This greatly contributed to my self-confidence as I was recognised as dependable and trustworthy. Together with extremely friendly and welcoming staff, my internship really was an invaluable experience and I would definitely recommend it to other UoB students.