Organisation: Health Exchange
Health Exchange are a local social enterprise based in the Digbeth area of Birmingham. They support people in the West Midlands to make informed lifestyle choices that improve their health and wellbeing, as well as tackling health inequalities. Health Exchange provides and develops services on behalf of the NHS, PCTs, GP, local authorities and other bodies.
Geraldine studied International Relations and graduated in 2012. During her degree she focused on the political side of the course and completed internships within MP’s offices in Birmingham, as well as part time jobs in retail.
She took a year out to travel and during this time temped at Aston University for four weeks in their finance office. This gave her some good skills which she could use in this role. She applied for the graduate internship after seeing it advertised on Careers Connect.
Interview with Geraldine:
What made you apply for the opportunity?
I applied for the opportunity because I felt that following taking some time out to travel, I was interested in branching out further from my degree subject of International Relations and exploring the possibilities that working in the Third Sector has to offer. I was also interested in the internship as it meant that I could be involved in helping alleviate deprivation and health problems in the poorest parts of Birmingham. This is something that I have been acutely aware of since doing work experience during my time at University at MP’s constituency offices in the city.
What were your preconceptions before starting the placement and what were your first impressions?
I actually had very little preconceptions about my internship as I had no idea what to expect! My first impressions were that the staff were extremely friendly, and that the work programme I had been set was thorough and well thought out.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I hoped to develop a further understanding of localism, and how national legislation has a direct effect upon the priorities of local authorities.
Please provide an outline of your duties
I have primarily been focused on the development of ‘WorkStyle’; an expansion of Health Exchange’s services. This has involved day-to-day research examining policy papers, statistics and service competitors to construct a business argument for workplace health and wellbeing. I have also been directly involved in research preparation for a volunteering grant from the Department of Health, which would expand Health Exchange’s influence from beyond Birmingham to neighbouring counties such as Worcestershire and Warwickshire. Other activities have included blogging for the company’s intranet, contributing towards the company database of partners and competitors, and drafting Health Exchange’s pitch to be included in RBS’s Social Enterprise 100.
Please provide an overview of your progress as you have gone through the internship
I feel that I have definitely progressed throughout the internship, and have developed my teamwork skills immensely. It has also helped me to prioritise long term commitment against short term urgent tasks. Throughout the internship the thing that I have most enjoyed has been seeing Workstyle from it being a conceptual notion to it being a fully functioning part of Health Exchange’s portfolio.
My thoughts at the end of this internship regarding the experience are overwhelmingly positive. I have learnt so much at Health Exchange and have had a lot of fun. It has definitely broadened my graduate career options and will be applying to jobs in the Third Sector without a shadow of a doubt.
I would encourage my peers to use the University’s Careers Network and particularly take advantage of the internships it has on offer. They are a great way to develop your CV and gain an insight into an industry.