There are many opportunities at the University to undertake an internship as part of your degree. This semester, I’m doing the Public Affairs internship, which counts as 2 subjects towards my Politics major and involves 200 hours of placement at an organisation. At the end, you produce a research report or portfolio of your work to be assessed.
Gaining work experience whilst not having to write essays? Hell yes!
I’ve just reached the halfway point of my time at a social marketing organisation and have learnt a lot so far. Here are five things that have stuck out:
1) The full-time work struggle.
Without giving too much away, the organisation that I’m working at is on the opposite side of the city to where I live. This means lengthy commutes, crashing on my bed when I get home, and plenty of coffee and green tea to keep the immune system going.
2) The value of independent work.
I’ve quickly learnt that regular, brief check-ins with my supervisor are very helpful to ensure that I don’t go off-track… but also that I can usually work things out for myself. Initially, I was asking a lot of trivial questions and I’ve found that it’s usually better to just give it a go.
3) Organisation and communication within the workplace are key.
This goes back to my last point. I noticed straight away that my colleagues always check-in with each other to see where they’re at and organise times to have small meetings where they can flesh things out. Time is valuable and it ensures that everyone is on the right track.
4) The new world of office dynamics.
I work in a building that houses a number of different offices, and everyone is very friendly. It’s nice to know that I can go to the kitchen to make myself a tea or coffee, or keep food in the fridge. The first time someone from a different office recognised me and said ‘oh, you work here’ made me feel like I was part of the team. I’ve even had a turn at table tennis during lunch (we have a table tennis table at work).
5) Oh yeah… the work.
The internship subject emphasises the difference between academic and professional writing. It’s been a steep learning curve, with new and specific ways of note-taking, referencing and writing styles. It’s better that I learn it now though in a comfortable environment, rather than being thrown in the deep end later.
I definitely recommend doing an internship subject to anyone who is looking for experience in the workplace (and to move out of their comfort zone!)