Vanessa is a final year English Language and Screen Studies student here at Manchester and spent eight weeks last summer working as a Project Leader Intern at ReachOut, as part of the Student Experience Internship (SEI) programme.
Vanessa recently joined us to talk us through various aspects of her SEI 2015 experience…
“I chose to do an SEI because I wanted to earn extra money over the summer, and gain further experience in the field of work that I want to enter. So working hard and knowing more about what it is that I potentially wanted to do was the main goal in doing an internship.”
“Having had weekend Jobs since I left High School I’ve been in and out of part-time work, so I know quite a few tricks about the interview process and how to deliver a good interview.
“With this particular job interview however the interviewer was very casual and welcoming, which is not what I expected at all with their being a Project Leader for a mentoring organisation. Whereas I was dressed very smart, I’d even bought my ‘progress’ file that we were told to create in school for future prospects. The interview didn’t even take place in an office or any formal setting; it was in the lounge area of the building, where the organisation is located.”
First few days…
“When I started, I was expecting to be in and out of the office, making some serious phone calls to individuals and companies, being creative with a whiteboard and marker pen and familiarising myself with tea and coffee. Obviously, none of this happened at first. It took my whole first day for the computer system to set up an account for me and personalise an email in my name – this took 14 hours! So, instead of making phone calls, I was preparing folders for summer projects and making a list of all the equipment needed for them.
“However, I settled into the role after a few days and the work load became real. I had to acquire immense multi-tasking skills after the first week or so.”
“One of my main tasks was to communicate with schools and parents, to get their responses if certain children were attending the summer project or not.
“From this I gained experience in learning how to address parents, school teachers and carers over the phone whilst reading out valid information to them and taking details at the same time. This of course is something that most people can do, but doing it all at once and making sure that no details have been left out is quite tricky, believe me.
“For the last 3 weeks of my internship, I was working with children that lived in a ‘deprived’ area of Manchester on the summer projects. I gained a lot of experience being in the classroom managing and supervising them, alongside both my junior and senior mentors, and it opened my eyes to what it would really be like as a teacher.
“From this I learnt how to prepare myself properly for a full day in and out of the office. This literally meant preparing myself for the time spent working in the office and being out on the summer projects in the schools at different locations – although this was a case mainly of what to and what not to bring!
“I also learnt how to compromise and deal with situations professionally without allowing my emotions to be a part of the judgment or conclusion I make on a situation. Communication was a key skill that I expanded on whilst working with young people. Not only to get them going in the classroom, but it also helps them to develop as young people and to build-up a level of certainty between them and yourself.”
“I would have to say that my favourite memory of all was seeing the young people believe in themselves academically and potentially.”
Moving into second year – how has it helped?
“Being on this internship did not just allow me to experience being a leader, but to actually experience seeing others do and become better. To see this as a student motivated me to become even better at preparing myself for the final step – big or small – and to overcome the obstacles I thought I couldn’t, because I now believe that what you do and what you say goes a long way.”
Has Vanessa’s words and insight made you think about doing something really productive with your summer this year? If so, the Student Experience Internship 2016 programme will be launching on Monday 1st February. SEI 2016 will offer 8 week, fully paid, internships either within the University or in local charities/not-for-profit organisations.
You can see how numerous other undergraduate students benefitted from last year’s programme by checking out the website – Student Experience Internship (SEI) programme.