If you’re thinking about interning or volunteering, Tímea Štrihová, who is spending the summer interning with the I Am Group, shares her inside story and advice.
Thanks to the Erasmus program1, I was able to come to live in London for three months this summer, interning with two companies at the same time. When I tell somebody that I am interning in the UK and that I do it with two companies instead of the one required by the Erasmus program, they usually just laugh at me and ask: “Why would you want to work for two companies if you don’t have to?” I believe that this is a perfect way to gain experience, develop my skills, meet lots of people and to make the most of my opportunities.
In the first half of my week I am interning with a TV production company making political and economic documentaries while in the latter half I am staying with the I Am Group, which covers consulting, recruiting for charities, organising networking events, various workshops and training. The I Am Group is based in Westminster Hub, a dynamic co-working space for social enterprises and ethical businesses based near Trafalgar Square in Central London. It’s a great space and it even offers tea and cookies every Thursday to support networking among the organisations within the Hub!
No two days are the same…..
Since both companies I intern with are small, I get involved in various aspects of their work and I get to try lots of different things. Working with two companies at the same time also offers me a much wider range of possibilities. There are hardly any two days which are the same and this keeps my work exciting and challenging. I have already translated documents into English, selected background music to documentaries, edited subtitles in a video-cutting program, researched various topics related to international affairs, learnt about the charity sector in the UK, helped with organising events and with administration, worked with social media and now I am writing my first blog entry ever! Taking into consideration that I have only been here for a month, I am quite curious how long this list will get by the end of summer. The best thing about interning is that I get to try and learn new things in a stress-free, friendly environment, where I get lots of support and advice if needed.
Furthermore interning and especially interning abroad has much more to offer than ‘just’ professional skills. It is also about meeting new people, learning about other cultures, improving language skills or learning new languages, travelling, sightseeing and much more. Living in a foreign country, even if just for a couple of months, can be a very valuable life experience. I have improved my communication and interpersonal skills just by getting an apartment in London and been actively using and improving my English ever since I got here, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to the United Kingdom. I have also learnt a lot about the country and its culture. The only thing I dislike here for the moment is this cold and rainy weather, but on the other side it is very lovely to see how people have learned to appreciate each and every bit of sunshine they get!
I would recommend doing an internship because…..
I would warmly recommend doing an internship or volunteering to everybody and I think it is one of the best ways to gain experience and learn new skills. It is even better if you are lucky enough to have an opportunity similar to the Erasmus Work Placement scheme as in my opinion it is like school, work and a holiday all in one! If you are considering volunteering or doing an internship yourself, you might want to think about why you want to do it in the first place so that you develop skills that are of most interest and use. If you already know where you want to build your professional career, interning could be a perfect way of getting experience and useful contacts in the given sector. You might even be offered a job after the internship! It’s also an interesting way of finding out what you want to do in your life, by being able to try new things and generally developing your skills or meeting new people and could even be a good opportunity for living in a different country, improving your language skills or learning a new language. After you have decided where you want to go and what you want to do, you just need to do your research and find an organisation best suited to your requirements!
What is I Am all about?
What do we do? We love connecting people in charities, social enterprises and not-for-profits to learn, share knowledge, make meaningful connections and find jobs! We organise regular social networking and learning events and help people find jobs through our recruitment services.
Looking for work? Check out our vacancies here.
Keep in touch. The best way to reach us is on LinkedIn twitter@theiamgroup and on Facebook. You can subscribe to our mailing list and blog here (and if you’re interested in writing a guest blog post for us get in touch). Visit our website here.
1 Erasmus is the European Union’s flagship educational exchange programme for Higher Education students, teachers and institutions. It was introduced with the aim of increasing student mobility within Europe. Erasmus forms part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-2013) enables higher education students to study or work abroad as part of their degree and staff to teach or train in 33 European countries.