Online development at Careers Network, a BUIP internship – final thoughts

To make sure I don’t get a boatload of e-mails from perplexed members of staff while on my (well-earned) holiday, I’m currently trying to put together a handover document. But, seeing how this internship has made me very reflective of my experience and future career, it seems like a good time to write this blog post instead.

Today is the final day of my seven-week internship.  It has been a very dynamic period of time, and I had much more responsibility than I thought I would get. One of the most enjoyable things about this experience was the diversity of tasks – no day was ever the same. My technical abilities were stretched, and I was often forced to find creative solutions to problems that were new to the Careers Network team. I am very happy of the freedom that was given to me by my line manager Marcus, which greatly stimulated my productivity.

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Me during my final presentation

The user and staff feedback for the online improvements I have made is overwhelmingly positive, and gives me great satisfaction for my work. It is for the first time that I am working not for myself (as part of coursework/personal interest), but for the amazing student community that University of Birmingham has. Working “for the greater good”, and seeing tangible outcomes of your activities is what makes people so happy about working in HE.

Throughout this seven-week period, I have worked with the web content that Careers Network provides, unwillingly (at first) familiarizing myself with it. I feel that this has given me a great understanding of issues around employability, making me form a general idea about the graduate job market. I would recommend every student to have, at least, a quick read-through.

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Impromptu selfie with the Information Team

In BUIP, there is a very strong emphasis on the enhancement of the students’ skills. We were allocated time to attend interactive training sessions led by Carl Jukes, one of our careers advisers. These sessions offered me an insight into what employers are looking for, which is particularly useful since I will be applying for a placement year soon.

All in all, the BUIP internship has been an amazing experience. Getting the job was rewarding in and of itself, considering the highly competitive nature. But there was no time for me to rest on my laurels. I am grateful for the opportunity to practice my technical skills – relevant work experience looks great on any CV. But, as I mentioned before, I consider that this internship has helped me develop as a professional, above all. I now possess (subjectively) excellent communication and organisational skills, and feel much more confident in my abilities.

If you are reading these words contemplating whether you should apply for BUIP, just go ahead and do it. As one of the other interns this year said, “Summer is generally a time of regression, not development”. I recommend to all students to seize this opportunity.

By Victor Darvariu

Online development at Careers Network, a BUIP internship

selfievictor (3)The work I have been doing has proved to be much more challenging than I expected – I am in a position of great responsibility. The website is the online presence of the whole of Careers Network and it needs to be representative of every department.

There were no obvious solutions to the problems I have faced, so my problem-solving and creativity skills were also intensely stimulated.  When the BUIP roles were advertised, I was extremely disappointed that I had already booked flights for my Easter holiday one day before the interviews were going to take place. I was very grateful that the Careers Network team agreed to have the interview the week before and I felt I had to make the most of the chance I was given.

I was terribly nervous before the interview, especially since it was my first one. I spent an entire day looking up advice and guidance (funnily enough, the same resources I am editing and enhancing now as part of my role). Completing the PSA Activity a month prior to the interview helped me reflect on my achievements and build up the confidence needed to articulate my own employability. Being offered the role felt like an immense confidence boost, as well as a unique chance to improve and exercise my abilities.

My main task is to bring improvements to the Careers Network online resources, primarily the website. I spent the first week familiarizing myself with it and undertaking some literature research, in order to discover the advancements that could be made.

I have designed surveys for the website’s users and analysed the resulting data, deriving potential improvements, and I will soon implement the changes to the live website. I am also involved in developing the Careers Network e-learning resources for students, in things like designing, restructuring and improving materials on Canvas.

Being able to put my technical knowledge into use has been very rewarding. I have made use of my HTML, CSS, and web editing skills. I have also learned a great deal many things, primarily how to use different types of E-learning software and gained proficiency in using Canvas. I also realized I was not as bad at graphic design as I previously thought (which was very surprising).

However, I feel like my main benefit from this internship so far is the acquisition and enhancement of soft skills. I have had to give presentations, communicate and liaise with many people in the various departments, organize all of my tasks and learn to maintain a good professional etiquette. Since I’m doing a highly technical degree, this internship has helped me go out of my comfort zone and develop a more calm and professional attitude.

The Careers Network team have been very friendly and considerate. They have provided an excellent inclusive work environment for me. I often forget I am an intern – my opinion is valued and respected, and people are always eager to help.

I look forward to the next tasks I will face, and cannot believe that I am already past the midpoint of my internship!

By Victor Darvariu

BUIP: University of Birmingham Information and Communications for the Student Hub – Emily Muscat

BUIP: Information and Communications for the Student Hub

First blog post picture - Emily Muscat

Having only ever spent a grand total of 2 weeks in the working world before, the idea of spending my entire summer in an office job was an exciting but daunting prospect. Before the internship began I tried to prepare as best I could (mainly trying to find the Holy Grail of a comfy pair of heels and reading unhelpful articles online about New York Interns going on the daily ‘coffee dash’), but ultimately I realised that nothing could really prepare me for the giant leap that lay ahead.

By 10am on my first day I’d had my introductory meeting with my line-manager who explained the general scope of the projects I would be working on. I realised then that this internship was going to be a genuine stepping stone onto work after graduation; I would be treated like a junior member of the team with my own independent projects, rather than picking up bits of work here and there.

My role in the Student Experience Projects Team is to contribute to the launch of the new Student Hub, which includes two strands. Firstly, the ‘information’ side of my role includes practical elements of the launch such as making sure everything is updated online and on printed information for when each department moves to the Student Hub. Secondly, the ‘communications’ strand involves marketing and events planning such as creating a marketing plan, a social media campaign and other promotional materials. I’m developing valuable skills from both sides of the role that will hopefully put me in a great position for when I apply for graduate jobs next year. For example, reviewing the Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) produced throughout Student Services has involved setting up meetings with a number of people across the University, improving my interpersonal skills and professional etiquette. Likewise, the communications work is teaching me to have confidence in my own ideas but also to learn from the rest of my team when given feedback; even in a tweet or a Facebook post I am representing the University of Birmingham, which is a big responsibility!

Before starting this placement my thoughts about how the University was run didn’t go any further than a vague notion that ‘some people’ were working behind the scenes. I soon discovered the sheer scale of the operations behind every aspect of the University and just quite how many teams of people contribute towards making it what it is to students. Though you might assume that working within such a vast institution means staff simply feel like part of a machine, the opposite is true; I’m quickly finding out that every role is important and valued and the sense of community and a common goal is really rewarding.

As part of the internship I have also been having weekly training sessions run by Careers Network with other BUIP interns. These sessions really help put our placements in the perspective of our future careers, and encourage us to make the most of every opportunity to develop professionally. After finding out how competitive the application process was for the scheme, I have been reminded that it is a real privilege to be able to learn and progress in such a supportive environment before having to do it ‘for real’ after graduation.

Four weeks in to my internship and work now feels ‘normal’, yet every week offers new experiences and new challenges. Though working full time after two years of a low contact hour course was a shock to the system, I quickly got used to the new pace of life and I look forward to each new week of exciting moments, proud moments, and yes, a couple of classic ‘intern moments’ too for good measure!

By Emily Muscat