How I got my internship
Like so many setting out into the world of work after graduating university, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I was eager to find a job where I could have a social impact, but in what role and how would I get it? I found myself in the classic graduate catch-22 situation: not enough “relevant” experience to get an entry-level job, so not able to get an entry-level job to get the “relevant” experience!
Then the Jack Petchey Internship Programme appeared. It was just the opportunity I’d been looking for – a chance to build my experience in a role that I genuinely cared about! The role I applied for was as an Events and Communications Assistant with the Jack Petchey Foundation (JPF).
I was able to draw on my voluntary experience running social media and organising gigs for my Music Society at university. I also had some experience working at a college where I supported students with Special Education Needs, which gave me real knowledge of working with young people. This unlikely combination of experiences put in my good stead for my interview with JPF and got me onto the programme!
From internship to a permanent role
With my internship split between the Communications and Partnerships departments, I worked on a variety of projects and tasks. For the Communications team I ran JPF’s social media, managed webpages, and helped to organise a survey on the environment; whilst with the Partnerships team I supported the planning and delivery of the Internship Programme (the very programme I was also taking part in!).
I learnt so much and was really supported to learn. For example, I was given the opportunity to manage a creative competition where I set up an art project that culminated in 36 young people’s artworks being displayed at an arts centre and online exhibition (you can see the online exhibition here). Eager to further my skillset and broaden my experience, I also volunteered to assess some applications for an open grant programme the Foundation was running.
Towards the end of my internship, a position as a Grants Officer at JPF opened. My recent experience of assessing grant applications gave me real-world examples to refer to in my application and interview. My year working with the Communications department gave me an intimate knowledge of JPF’s grant programmes. Part of the internship programme included being allocated a mentor who helped me prep for my interview and secure the job (thanks Pete!).
After 18 months as a Grants Officer, I became a Partnerships Officer for the Foundation and manage the relationships with some of our partner organisations.
My top tips and reflections
Firstly, I would highlight how much internships help you progress within that organisation. You can gain a well-rounded knowledge of the organisation and how it works, which is so useful should any internal roles come up.
When in an internship or early career role, I think it’s really helpful to get some experience of managing a project or taking ownership of an area of work. No matter how small it might be, this is a great learning experience and can give you solid examples to point to when applying for roles with more responsibility.
Reflecting on my career path so far, what strikes me most is how it has been shaped by a variety of experiences and, what seemed like at the time, small opportunities. When I volunteered to run social media at university and when I assessed some open grants, I didn’t know they’d lead to two future roles… but I’m not sure I’d be in my current role without those experiences!
My ultimate top tip for someone setting out in their career would be to put yourself forward for new experiences wherever possible – whether that is voluntary or in the workplace. You don’t know while you’re doing them how valuable they might be or where they might take you!
Partnerships Officer at the Jack Petchey Foundation,
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