Work experience isn't just for students; more and more people are finding that graduate work experience and internships can be a great way into a career.
I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in American Studies with Media, Culture and Society in Summer 2011 and started my internship with Bloomberg in June 2011. For those of you that don’t know what Bloomberg does they are the global leader in providing financial news, data and analytics. For someone with my degree background it doesn't seem like the most obvious choice. I had always thought of Bloomberg as a media channel until I met them at the National Graduate Fair in Birmingham. I applied for a role in the Human Resources department and was placed in the recruitment marketing team for the 10 week summer internship.
During my internship I was given real responsibility and projects to manage, and there was a constant stream of opportunity to get involved with other projects, as well as the opportunity to shadow other departments. For me, (as someone that came from a discipline outside finance) this was especially interesting. I hadn’t ever been exposed to the world of finance before and since starting at Bloomberg it has become a keen interest of mine. My internship experience has been completely indispensable in the development of my future career path, and I was lucky enough to have my internship extended so I have been and will continue to be working at Bloomberg into the future!
I came across the internship through a friend that already worked in the social enterprise sector who spotted the opportunity advertised on an e-bulletin. Although I’d never worked for a social enterprise before, I had undertaken voluntary work for a charity which helped me better understand what working for ‘the third sector’ was all about. I applied in the standard way – an application form followed by two interviews, one of which involved a written assessment. Later I found out that my enthusiasm was what really stood out. My employers didn’t just consider my degree and academic achievements (although they certainly helped) but my interest in social enterprise and the voluntary work I had carried out in addition to my studies.
During my first six months I spent a lot of time shadowing colleagues, training, reading and researching. I was also given a few projects to work on right from the start, which not only helped my understanding but also made me feel I was contributing something worthwhile to the business. After the initial induction period, I began to put my research into practice and take on my own clients, working with individuals and community groups to support them to start social enterprises. I found myself working with so many different and interesting people – one day I might be running a workshop with a group of refugee women to help them develop a social enterprise, the next a CEO of an established charity looking at starting a social enterprise to income generate.
The first benefit of my internship was that it led to a full-time job that I love! It improved my confidence greatly – while at University I never thought I would be able to deliver a training course to 20 CEO’s and come out alive but now it’s all part of the job. I have learnt from and meet so many successful, inspiring people every day. The internship also opened up a whole new world to me – one that I am immensely pleased to be in. I know like to think I am helping towards the development of the social enterprise sector in Birmingham and the growth of the social enterprise economy on a much wider scale.
Let’s Live Residential Lettings is a growing micro business with a housing stock of 250 properties in Birmingham city centre, Edgbaston and Harborne. They were looking to recruit a graduate to support and assist with administration duties within the business, enabling the directors to spend more time expanding and developing the business. Having used Graduate Advantage’s services previously they knew that the role would suit a graduate at the beginning of their career.
French and Hispanic Studies graduate Kezia Stanley-Kaussen was successfully recruited for the role of Lettings Coordinator. She was initially responsible for tenant and landlord queries and various administration duties including managing the office diary; maintaining the client database and ensuring it was up to date as well as organising potential viewings for the Lettings Negotiator. All these tasks were key, allowing the office to run efficiently. However, due to her eagerness to learn more about the business, Kezia also took on the responsibility of arranging and conducting viewings with potential tenant. She was extremely enthusiastic to develop her organisational and communication skills.
Kezia’s eagerness to take on more responsibility has meant that Let’s Live has been able to evolve as a business. The company has received fantastic feedback from tenants about the customer service that Kezia provides. The tasks that she was given certainly helped her own confidence when dealing with clients and colleagues. This allowed her to expand her knowledge in customer service and encouraged her to assist in taking some ownership of it.
Speaking of her intern; Ellie Cohen, a director at Let’s Live Residential Lettings commented “It was a great opportunity for a graduate to gain vast amount of administrative experience within the property industry. Because Kezia was so proficient, she took on more responsibility very quickly allowing me to network and promote the business much more than I had anticipated. This was a positive for me and the business.”
“It has been great to watch Kezia grow within this role, she stood out from the crowd at interview and she has really made the role her own through the last few months. We have now taken her on as a permanent member of the Let’s Live team.”
Now Kezia has been accepted onto a Graduate Development Programme, which is run by another graduate recruitment company, due to her performance while an intern at Let’s Live. She will be obtaining a Postgraduate Certificate (PGC) at the end.
Kezia recommended “I have been telling my friends about Graduate Advantage and internships since I started at Let’s Live. It’s been a fantastic way to gain experience and knowledge in the work place that has helped me secure permanent employment with the company. I am really excited about how this role will continue to change, as I do.”
Please provide an overall description of your role, activities and responsibilities during your internship
Working as a Client Services Assistant for MADISONSOHO I worked with the marketing team to develop, measure and implement integrated marketing campaigns for our clients (who were shopping centres throughout the UK). I managed three social media accounts where I updated several various platforms on a daily basis, wrote social media content plans and monthly reports. I used CMS software to update websites with latest news, offers and events when instructed by our clients. I sourced images, logos and wrote effective and engaging copy for several spring/summer magazines. I carried out any other administrative and organisational duties required in the ever evolving and growing marketing agency.
What did you enjoy most about your internship and why? What was your main achievement?
I enjoyed being surrounded by creative and talented people on a daily basis and being able to put into practice theories I had learnt on my Master’s course.
My main achievement was when I first saw the printed version of a Spring/Summer fashion magazine which had been allocated to me as one of my projects. I researched the latest fashion trends, contacted Head Offices of many different retailers for appropriate high-res images and wrote engaging copy to complement the trends. It was a very proud and satisfying moment seeing the actual magazine come together in print format.
What made you consider undertaking a graduate internship instead of a permanent graduate role?
During my Master’s I had decided that I wanted to gain as much experience in different marketing roles before I settled on applying for a permanent graduate role. Therefore post-university I was fortunate to intern with a social enterprise business, a marketing agency and work-in house for a major UK high street brand. This allowed me to make a more informed decision regarding my future job plans and what role I actually wanted to be doing in the marketing industry.
How do you feel that your graduate internship has assisted you in your career? What are you doing now?
The graduate internship with MADISONSOHO has definitely assisted me to get where I am today, as I was able to use a lot of different working examples in interviews which demonstrated key employer competencies such as written and verbal communication, team-working, presentation and organisational skills.
I am currently working as a Marketing Assistant for a luxury chocolate company in Birmingham (Chouchoute UK).
Would you recommend graduate internships to upcoming University of Birmingham graduates? Why?
I would definitely recommend graduate internships to other University of Birmingham graduates as it is definitely an eye-opener as what to expect in the working world and it’s a great way to experience different environments before you make a decision regarding your future professional career.