Getting work experience during the pandemic

Written by Charlotte Smith, Student Experience Intern, BA History and Sociology

I am currently a Final Year History and Sociology student and during my second-year summer break (2020) I was able to complete a Student Experience Internship (SEI) with the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures as an Administrative Assistant Intern for Flexible Honours.

During the internship, I gained invaluable professional skills which have been extremely useful enhancing my work experience and developing my career aspirations for when I graduate this summer.  

I wanted to share with you 5 things I learnt from the SEI experience and why it’s worth applying, even if you don’t really know what you want to do yet! 

  1. Flexibility working from home

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was about to start my new internship. I was really worried that it would be cancelled due to not being able to go into the office. However, I was lucky enough that it was adapted, and I ended up doing the internship working remotely, from home. This was a massive challenge to learn a completely new role and meet my new team via Zoom, but it allowed me to adapt and become much more flexible with where and how I work.

Some tips for working from home:

  • Try to get out for a walk / air at least once a day! It really helps with focus and productivity.
  • Set up a working area where you work such as a desk or table so you can really focus and use other spaces to relax after.
  1. Time Management and Organisational skills

During my internship I was given a variety of responsibility in the administration process of the Flexible Honours scheme. This was completely new to me, so I had to ensure I managed my time effectively to learn about the scheme so that I could respond to queries effectively.

  1. Communication Skills

Having worked in customer service within the retail sector before this role, I had good communication skills but mainly face-to-face. The internship allowed me to develop professional written and verbal communication skills through using software such as Microsoft Outlook and Zoom.

  1. Software skills / Knowledge

Before my internship I used to avoid Excel and other software technology like the plague! (or Covid). Studying a History degree, I much prefer writing and words and I always found using them so difficult. However, during my internship I was responsible for managing an Excel spreadsheet and updating it regularly, using formulas for large groups of data. I learnt to use timetabling software and how to create and develop surveys for student feedback. The skills and knowledge I gained will be useful for future jobs and it increased my confidence in using Excel and made other software seem less daunting!

  1. Relationship Building via Zoom

Completing the internship remotely was a challenge as it can be difficult to connect with the team compared to being in an office together. However, I met regularly with the team over Zoom and got to know people online which was really nice. I really felt involved and part of the team!

I would definitely recommend the SEI to any student even if you don’t really know what you want to do yet because it’s a really useful opportunity to gain some transferable skills that can be used in any industry or job role!

For more information on SEI’s visit our webpage.

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