Are you a first year student trying to gain some experience? Do you need to build your CV?
Internships for first year students are always difficult. Firstly, there are multiple tests that one has to do – whether it is numerical, verbal or non-verbal. A lot of the time, these are things that you may have to prepare for or brush up on since you haven’t done, for example – statistics in a long time. Secondly, coming into the first year, there is a lot of pressure especially for business students that internships should be on your to-do list. This is absolutely the right step to take, as the more experience you have, the better your CV looks and building your CV earlier on will put you at a great advantage in the future. However, my point is that big companies such as investment banks, large enterprises and those huge names are not the only choice!
Having gone through the UCL advances programme – a sponsored opportunity for students to work for SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises), I have learnt that there are many companies out there and your reach is the sky when it comes to applying for internships over the summer. I have also learnt it is a matter of luck and commitment from your end and patience is key.
Why join a small to medium enterprise?
I joined the I Am Group in June 2015 as their Marketing and Communications intern; I Am is a recruitment company within the third sector and also organises networking events, and learning and consulting opportunities. Being in a team of 8 people, you really feel the sense of a company’s unity, passion and not to mention you are constantly learning. Working in a SME gives you the opportunity to do something relevant and something that makes a difference to the company – whether that is social media content, coding for a website or making a video for 100s of people to view. You learn what your co-workers know, you are taught by people first hand with great experiences and you have the freedom to constantly ask questions, make suggestions and actually put all of those module skills into action!
The I Am Group is located in the middle of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, which for anyone is one of those great locations in London that is always buzzing and you can never be bored of. Walking by moving statues, dancers and singers just outside your office keeps your life entertained on your morning to and evening walk out of the office. As well as that, working in one of the most successful social enterprise hubs in London – Impact Hub Westminster – you are surrounded by innovative, vibrant, young minds – making a day at the office always entertaining and informative.
What you should think about when applying for an internship
Given that summer internships are almost 2 to 3 months, one must greatly consider what you apply for. I have picked out three aspects that I had to consider before I joined the I Am Group.
- The People. This is such an important aspect as you’re spending almost every day for the next 2-3 months with them. Building relationships and feeling like part of the team is such a vital aspect – which is what I Am does perfectly!
- The Location. Considering that you will most likely have to travel 5 days a week to your workplace, location is something that you should sensibly consider. I would say 2-3 hours plus is not realistic and that you should consider a location within a practical radius. In addition, pick a place that you enjoy and are fond of – Central London and especially Piccadilly Circus was my best choice!
- Relevance of experience. Make sure that the internship you are getting yourself into is relevant to your course and will benefit you later on when applying for a job in the particular sector that you are interested in. Or that you had studied one of the aspects as part of your course – therefore, being able to participate in any conversation and give appropriate suggestions.
I would highly recommend that students closely research how they would like to spend their summer. Think carefully of what you want to do, how it will benefit you and whether or not you will enjoy it! Look at companies out of your weekly bulletin, call different companies and definitely look into smaller enterprises in which you could truly make a difference. I was lucky with the I Am Group, as not only did it tick off all the boxes from what I wanted out of my first year internship, but it has also taught me a lot about the industry and the importance of consistency, relevance and importance when operating within online communications.
Minhal Shamsuddin is currently a UCL student studying Information Management for Business. She started working for I Am in June as a Marketing and Communications Intern. Her role consists of weekly and monthly newsletters to our clients and candidates, as well as being in charge of all our social media platforms and our website.
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.
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