Global Challenge: British Consulate Chicago – Stephen Bowcott

Stephen-Bowcott1300x300Stephen Bowcott (BA History)

British Consulate internship, Chicago, USA – Global Challenge Internship Programme


Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities

  • Worked directly with the Deputy-Consul General to promote UK-US investment as outlined within FCO policy
  • Designed, planned and attended 4 day diplomatic visit to North Dakota
  • Liaised with senior American business officials and the British-American Business Council
  • Compiled written reports on US mid-term elections and Republican Party for Consul-General
  • Attended internal and external networking events to promote Anglo-American ties within the Chicago area
  • Met with leading thinkers within the American educational world and liaised with consulates education officer to design a programme of using abandoned spaces for educational purposes. This programme has since been passed onto the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation
  • Planned, organised and carried out a Beatles themed celebratory party that was attended by over 100 people and formed the centrepiece of the ‘Britain is Great’ campaign

Main Achievements

My main achievements centred around quickly adjusting to a completely new working environment and getting used to the intricacies of working in a fast paced and challenging environment. The best and also most challenging thing about this internship was that from literally day one I was given a lot of responsibility from arranging logistics for upcoming important events to meeting with influential people within the educational and business sectors. Whether it was in writing a report for the Consul General or making sure the 50 delegates for the upcoming food security event had a place to stay I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks.

My biggest achievement however without a doubt was planning and organising from scratch a four day diplomatic visit attended by myself, the Deputy Consul-General and the Chief Science Officer to North Dakota. I contacted many different organisations within the energy and aerospace sectors and arranged meeting with them. The whole event made me realise just how crucial time management and proper planning are in this line of work.

I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks

Most enjoyable part of the internship

The thing I enjoyed most was the opportunity to work with some amazing people; people whose work often does not get reported but nevertheless goes a great deal in bringing prosperity, security and assistance to Britons both at home and abroad. I welcomed with open arms when I arrived and was introduced to everybody; I was given work of a challenging nature that pushed me and showed how much the consulate and the people within it wanted me to succeed. The warmth and friendship offered by my work colleagues also extended out of work hours as well. I was often invited out to lunch or to just go for a few drinks after work, I was very quickly made to feel a valued part of the team; it is this very tight knit team atmosphere that enables such great collaboration between the consulate’s different teams.Stephen-Bowcott2

I received incredible support from both the host organisation as a whole and the Deputy Consul General as my supervisor. In the first two days of my internship I had face to face meetings with the consulates education, trade and science officers. They all helped me to better understand the environment I was in and offered me advice on how to make the most of my time there. I also met the Consul-General on day four and he gave me some of his experiences of when he first joined the FCO and helped me to play the best way for me to go about making this internship into a larger career within the FCO. Meanwhile the DCG really showed his support in me by the level of responsibility I was tasked with, I am very grateful to him for making my six weeks here a great learning curve.

Skills Developed

This internship has developed two core skills that will enable me to go out into the job market with confidence and vigour. Firstly thanks to these last six weeks I am able to communicate with different people in fluid situations much better than before. Having been forced to make sure I communicated perfectly between consulate staff, travel agencies and individuals from public and private sectors in relation to the North Dakota visit I have learnt the true value of efficient and to the point communication. I have also developed my planning skills, having to plan how we wanted the different stage of our Beatles event to go and how we would maximise the use of space; given that over 100 people would be attending enabled me to see how large-scale events are put together.

How this will benefit me in the future

My experiences with this internship will be vital to my future success when applying for graduate positions, because they are exactly within the area I most want to enter. Having been given the opportunity to work for an organisation that rarely offers such internship opportunities I now possess some grounded experience that will hopefully prove to be the cutting edge between me and the numerous other fantastic candidates I will no doubt be competing against. I have also of course been able to make crucial contacts and friends within the Foreign Service sector; I plan to use their advice and support over the coming months as I embark upon the long civil service fast stream application process. Perhaps more importantly however, for the first time I have a definite idea as to what I want my future career to be. This will now enable me to apply for the opportunities I know I want to do and save me much time applying in areas I am unsure I would actually be interested in.

An all-round great internship that has taught me so much. I will strongly recommend applying to this to all my friends still at Bham.


Originally posted on Friday 6th February 2015

Global Challenge 2014: GSK Finance internship, Morocco – Final Blog

Weeks 11&12

My final two weeks with GSK Morocco were very challenging as the financial planning process moved towards the final stages. My supervisor, Naoual, asked me to complete the revenue report for Morocco with the forecast sales for the last quarter of 2014 and the annual figures for the following three years. Based on the analysis received from the commercial team, after checking it from a logical and mathematical perspective, I updated the 2014 forecast and 2015-2017 plan at the required level of detail. I filled in the revenue report and completed the gross to net sales analysis. In the process I collaborated with my two supervisors, Naoual and Mohammed and I delivered a well-informed report on time, which received very encouraging feedback as I managed to finish the report with minimal training and supervision.

Without realising, my last week of the Global Challenge internship has begun. I must admit, I felt way more melancholic than I imagined. There I was, a part of an amazing team working on a key project of the finance department. At the beginning of my internship I had found it quite difficult to approach my colleagues, due to their intimidating level of experience and different culture and lifestyle. However, during my collaboration with the Finance department I started to feel very attached both my organization and my colleagues from the finance team and the other departments as well. I became familiar with the Moroccan culture and lifestyle, and I knew I was to miss their friendly attitude and welcoming nature.

global challenge gsk

The final task I received was to make an analysis of the sales report on the top 10 brands by sales value, namely to fill in a report showing the sales volume and value compared to forecasts, plan, and previous year. I identified unusual variations and discrepancies in the growth analysis and challenged the commercial department to provide explanations/supporting documents for assumptions used. Then I discussed the results with Naoual, and we decided on what adjustments are needed and why. Although I have not been involved in the whole budgeting and forecasting process, during these three months I have become aware of its importance in the organization as being one of the key tools to give a strategic direction of the Company, a measuring tool for performance, a red flag for any unwanted deviation when compared to actual figures, as well as an informative tool for all employees of where the company wants to be in the future. I have understood the interdependencies between departments, the need to support forecasts and budgets with qualitative information and with assumptions well documented, the need to prepare budgets and forecasts timely in order to be useful tools in results analysis, and the significant importance of the final step –a thorough analysis on forecasted/budgeted data itself and against actual data in order to determine the current position of the company, to materialize it strategic objectives as the measures required for achieving these targets.

Friday, 19th of August was my last day with GSK Morocco. I visited my colleagues from all the departments I collaborated with during these three months, to say goodbye and share final thoughts and wishes. I had a feeling of both accomplishment and melancholy at the same time as I gained friends I really admired and worked with people with extraordinary backgrounds and outstanding personalities. During the afternoon I had my exit interviews with the HR manager, Redouane and with my two supervisors. My discussion with Redouane was very productive as he advised me on GSK’s recruitment process for graduate schemes and he helped me with valuable tips for job selection and application in general. My two supervisors have expressed their appreciation for the contribution I made to the financial planning process and emphasised on my in the job development during my internship. Naoual provided me with constructive feedback and encouraging advice for my future career and offered to refer me for future graduate jobs. We finally discussed about the most suited career path for me and which helped me realise the exact path I wish to follow.

As I reached the end of my internship I realised what an amazing opportunity I had. Not only did I manage to gain invaluable hands-on experience in finance, but I also had the chance to meet extraordinary people, to learn and be trained by experts in the field, to benefit from the resources offered by a highly reputable multinational company, to build and impressive professional network and last but not least to gain new friends. Thank you Global Challenge!

Global Challenge: Museum Victoria

Gertrude St/Nicholson St (Melbourne Museum)

Blog 3, photo 1

Having mastered my commute to a tee – with now just the odd tram ride taking an unexpected turn, my time at Melbourne Museum has almost come to an end. Despite only having had a few weeks getting to know the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ project that I am working on, and I am by no means an expert, I feel like I already have a good idea of how much potential the project has for becoming an exhibition that will provoke a relatable and no doubt, emotional experience for its visitors. The project looks at Post World War II British Migration from 1947 – 1982, when British citizens could go to Australia for just £10. Over a million people emigrated in that period – and who could blame them when a couple cups of coffee would cost you the same today. Seeking sun, adventure and the chance to escape post-War austerity in Britain, these migrants and the stories that I have had the chance to sift through relay an array of contrasting experiences – some very positive, and others heartbreaking.

Giving a presentation to the humanities department during my final week has provided an opportunity to reflect on both my work on the project, and more broadly on my experience as a Museum Victoria intern. All of the work I have been doing on oral histories from the period was brought to life on a Saturday trip down the Mornington Peninsula – just one of the many examples of Victoria’s staggering landscape – where I got chatting to a woman at a bus stop. She had picked up on my British accent, and asked me where I was from. She explained, with a twinge of Bristolian still evident, that she had left Britain in 1973 and hadn’t been back in over 40 years. I couldn’t resist asking, and as it turned out, I had found my very own Ten Pound Pom! Getting the chance to spend a bus journey hearing about her experience in person has solidified for me just how many people will be touched by this exhibition. I gave her the museum’s details and hope that she will get in contact to share her story – the chance meeting has been a really meaningful way to round off my involvement with the project.

With the project being in such early stages, I have gained so much insight into the complexities of getting an exhibition up and running. The battle for funding and the need to ‘sell’ an exhibition idea are essential processes that any museum must go through. To give me a look at the other side of exhibition development, I was given the opportunity to shadow Dr Deb Tout-Smith for a morning, the lead curator of the WWI : Love and Sorrow exhibition that opens at the end of August to mark the commemoration of the centenary. In full-on installation process, I got to see curators, project managers and collection managers in action, all mucking in to get the exhibition ready for its opening. I was most struck by the handling and positioning of artefacts. The placing of each object is so particular, with only those with a real eye for detail capable of achieving perfection; the process was fascinating to watch.

In applying for Global Challenge, amongst other things I was looking to learn as much as I could about exhibition development in particular. I think it is safe to say I could not have squeezed in an ounce more information if I tried; it’s been an extremely positive experience which has definitely confirmed my pursuit of a career in the arts no matter how much uncertainty lies ahead – I guess that’s all part of the fun.