William James – Digital Content Producer – The College of Life and Environmental Science -BUIP Internship

As I approach the halfway point of my internship, I’ve realised just how quickly the time has passed and how much I have achieved. I’ve met some fantastic people during my time within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, and improved some of the skills that I already have and also learned some new ones.

I expected being an intern would definitely be a challenge, and it has been. Its very fast paced, and after you’ve worked with a lot of people, you find you have a lot of emails to deal with first thing in the morning before you can start any work you had planned. Its certainly interesting and something I’d recommend to anyone who is considering applying for an internship.

So far, I’ve tackled a variety of tasks, which have required the application of a number of skills. During the production of my first Health and Safety video for first year lab inductions, I used almost half a dozen individual pieces of software to process audio and video to produce a high quality result. This video is now going to be used in September when the new undergraduates join the University and is really good material to add to a CV. This was a task I undertook and organized myself, away from any outside help from line managers and the like.

Will 1The independence is something you have to get used to. Simon, my manager, initially set me a few tasks to complete, however, once he was satisfied I was relatively capable, I was free to source my own work and complete it by myself. Arranging meetings is something strange as well; you’re not treated as a student, but as a work colleague by the people you’re working with, even if they’re teaching fellows or managers. It definitely helps you build confidence talking to a different group of people everyday once you’ve got a couple of meetings under your belt.

With that in mind, its nice that as an intern that if you feel you can’t do something, there’s plenty of help available. Simon gave me contact details of technical training for a couple of things. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use any of it yet, and I feel like I’ve dealt with the majority of issues I’ve faced really well. The work is challenging, but not impossible, and certainly enjoyable for me.

I’ve still got half the internship to go, and hope to be continuing to work hard and contributing towards LES. Currently, I’m working on a Health and Safety document which relates to the British Geological survey. It’s over 100 pages long. I’m also improving the layout of Risk Assessment forms to encourage academics to stop cutting corners.Will 2 Hopefully, LES will get as much from me as I have from them, and its going to be exciting to see my work being applied in September, providing the results I collect from the survey I’m using to evaluate my work are positive. My work may even have far reaching effects, as people from the Collaborative Teaching Project have been expressing an interest in the evaluation of my work, and the data I gather regarding it’s success.

I’m really enjoying my time working in LES; its very rewarding and challenging, and everyone I work with seems to be very satisfied with their jobs. I actually think its making me consider a career in Higher Education, which I hadn’t previously considered. I can only hope the remainder of the internship is as rewarding and challenging as the experience has been so far.

By William James

Kyle Allen Taylor – Online Skills Tutorial Evaluation Officer – Library Services – BUIP Internship

Introduction

Before beginning the internship I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Since the internship was recommended to me by my lecturer, I was expecting it to be a little bit more on the technical side since I study Computer Science. I also wanted something to keep me busy during the summer. I didn’t think too much about what was coming up in the internship, I was expecting it to be a lot more formal than it actually is. The internship has helped me considerably in some aspects, such as with professional etiquette, outlook software, as well as developed my report writing, English and document writing skills.

Duties

During my internship I have been responsible for researching other universities’ websites looking at how they help to develop their students’ academic skills. For example if they have online resources, in-house or external; workshops or one-to-one sessions for students. I have been taking notes on my research and have used my research to create a report on what the university should do as a result of my findings. I have also created a survey for my second report which will be written later this week. I have sent the survey out to over 40 recipients. Receiving very few responses I had to follow the first email through and kindly ask recipients again if they would take it, which has given me a few more responses. This has taught me that it is very difficult to get people to do surveys and that you need to be insistent generally to get people to do them.

I have had a few meetings with different people to get to know them and to also find out what they want me to do to help support them. For example I spoke to Ian Myatt at the Educational Enterprise department to find out how I could help them. I also have to help to develop a canvas course which will be used as material for the university in the future.

kyle 1

Workshops/Training

The internship has also helped me considerably with the workshops included. I have had workshops on professional etiquette, CV and interview skills, and presentation skills. Most of the professional etiquette workshop was mainly common sense, however there were a few key points I took away from the workshop:

  • After working for somewhere, for an internship or work experience etc. One should stay in contact and contact the company every 3 months for example.
  • I also learnt that when we finish the internship that we should give gifts to the staff.

I knew about these things already however it occurred to me during the workshop that they are actually quite important for the future if I want a job there and also for keeping good relations with the staff once you’ve left.

For the CV and interview skills workshop I learnt a lot, the main points being:

  • A Hotmail email account can be looked down upon by employers, so I signed up to get a gmail account, and placed that email on my CV instead.
  • During interview if you are unsure of an answer to a question ask them to come back to that question at the end of the interview.
  • Use the STAR technique, Situation, Task, Action, Result; during interviews.
  • How to do well at assessment centres.
  • If they ask you where else you have applied then you should say that you applied to other similar jobs.
  • You should be very aware of what the company you’re applying for have done, and all other relevant information.
  • Someone reading your CV should be able to tell what job you’re applying for without reading the career objectives section.
  • Also I learnt that there is no need to write references available on request as employers will expect this anyways.
  • Also to have projects outside of your main University work.

Finally from the Presentation skills workshop the main points I took with me were:

  • Move away from the computer screen during the presentation and walk around a bit, especially on slides which you know you will be explaining for a while.
  • The structure of the presentation should be; tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and finally tell them what you have told them.
  • Aim to be 30 seconds lower than the time allowance when rehearsing.
  • Have the question you’re answering on the slide.
  • Use a photo or video to grab the attention of the audience.
  • Summarise your key points.
  • Add personal touches.
  • Finally ask questions.

What I have gained from the internship

From this internship I have gained many skills. The internship has developed my research skills, how to efficiently locate what you are searching for on the internet; Survey writing skills, including how to use survey monkey to more efficient get people to fill in surveys and also analyse the results; finally my report writing skills have developed due to the number of reports I have had to write during the internship. I have also learnt how to better utilise some of the Microsoft office software products such as Outlook, Word and PowerPoint; such as how to set up meetings on the outlook, the use of changes mark-up to see how people have changed your documents and how to accept or reject any changes people have made.

Education on the other side

Experiencing higher education from the ‘other side’ has given me more respect towards the university’s hierarchical structure and the library facilities. Before the internship I didn’t realise how many academic services there are available to students to use, including findit @ bham and the academic skills centre. We have also taken a tour of the new library and I didn’t realise how much precision and effort went into the creation of the building. The hierarchical structure of the library doesn’t come across strongly, and there isn’t someone constantly looking over your desk and watching you. This is a great aspect, something that I wasn’t expecting before the internship. The internship experience so far has definitely made me consider getting a career in higher education. I hadn’t thought about working in higher education before the internship. However it has made me consider taking a PhD in my subject as a possible decision in the future, so that I may continue to work in higher education.

What I have enjoyed about my internship

There are many aspects to my internship that I have enjoyed. My colleagues have been one of the best parts of the internship; all of them are so kind and friendly. I have also enjoyed having the feeling that I am playing an important role within the centre. I was surprised by how calm I have been on the internship so far, I was expecting to be a lot more stressed. Another aspect that I completely love about the internship is the experience of getting paid a healthy amount of money as I carry out my work. I also very much enjoy the fairly chilled atmosphere within the office, it has definitely been a brilliant experience so far.

Challenges I have faced

During the internship I would say that one of the more prominent challenges have been juggling all of the different tasks I have to do for different people on the internship. Another difficult aspect is trying to stick to deadlines that I have created for myself, as it can be easy to get distracted. Another difficulty is the fact that the tasks I have been given aren’t always very specific, i.e. there isn’t a clear specification to follow; the deadlines for some tasks are not specified; or the purpose of some tasks are not made clear. For example I am currently writing a report and I am unsure who will be utilising the report I write, if anyone.

By Kyle Allen Taylor

Clare Weston – Community Fundraising Intern in the Development Office- University of Birmingham

Why I applied to be the Community Fundraising Intern
Prior to starting my internship in the Development, Alumni and Business Engagement (DABE) Office, I had no idea about the full extent of the work that goes on here. Initially, there were three main reasons I chose to apply for the ‘Community Fundraising Intern’:

1) I did not want to return to work in the dingy bar in my hometown this summer (something I’m sure current and past students can all relate to)
2) I have always had an interest in being involved with the community through my volunteering experiences
3) The job description asked for “endless enthusiasm” and I fancied the challenge

BUIP Internship Blog Photo (final) clare w

What my role is and what DABE does
To summarise my role in a few sentences, the Community Fundraising Intern is part of the Development section within the office who are all, essentially, fundraisers. My individual role involves reaching out to community groups in the local area, informing them of our fundraising activity and getting them to fundraise for us (fingers crossed). I can predict some of you thinking, “What do you fundraise for?”.

DABE have been the people behind the Circles of Influence campaign that have funded seven new buildings on campus, on top of several research projects, raising £160 million in total for the past six years.

As the Circles of Influence of Campaign is coming to a close at the end of July, DABE have been introduced to several new research projects that they will fundraise for during the next year. I have been extremely lucky to be a part of the start of the new campaign. These research projects have been brought to DABE by academics that work for UoB who need funding to carry on with their work. The projects include topics ranging from: Children’s Cancer, Global Maternal Health, Water Sustainability, Freedom of Religion, Healthy Ageing and even the Shakespeare Institute. The academics leading each project were invited to present their research to the DABE office in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ manner – this would give the fundraisers an opportunity to ask the academics questions about the projects that they would be asked by potential donors. (I bet nobody else can say they have done Dragon’s Den in their internship, eh?)

My thoughts so far
Only half way through my first day, I realised I had definitely got the best BUIP internship (I’m not biased at all, promise). I was sitting in on the monthly ‘fundraising team’ meeting in which they discuss what is going on in the department. A part of that meeting is called ‘Alumni Surgery’ – this section is for fundraisers to bounce ideas off one another on how to engage alumni in a creative manner with the University (just to confirm, none of our alumni were actually dissected in this meeting). For data protection reasons, I will not disclose the name of the alumnus (plus, I cannot remember his/her name anyway) – but one thing I will tell you about this alumnus is that they are an alpaca breeder.
Yes, that’s right; I did say an alpaca breeder.

For the next 20 minutes of the meeting, the fundraising team – which consists of around 12 people – came up with brilliant ideas of ways to grab an alpaca breeder’s attention.

On a serious note…
Within my first two weeks, I had one-to-one meetings with a range of people from the office to inform me of all the elements of DABE. I was incredibly grateful that these super busy people were happy to spare me an hour just so I could really learn about how the office functions beyond my own role.

It’s difficult to summarise the DABE team spirit in a few words, but I would definitely say “endless enthusiasm” applies to everybody that works here in the office.

In conclusion… (I know, I’ve dragged on a bit!)
I have found myself learning something new every day even up until now – the half way point – which I think is so important when undertaking an internship. Furthermore, the internship has given me the opportunity to refine skills that I will need throughout my professional life, regardless of what career path I may follow. Ranging from improving my ‘telephone voice’ since my first day, (I’m hoping my colleagues can confirm that…) to feeling confident about representing the University when meeting people from the local community. The days fly by (in a good way) and before I know it, it’s 5pm.

I’m even looking forward to my own end-of-internship blog post to see what further progress I will make in the last six weeks!

By Clare Weston