Rebecca Hadfield is currently undertaking a Graduate Business Partnership internship with the University of Exeter.
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I know that might sound a little naive, but my life experience has persuaded me into believing that it really is true. My graduate internship has been no different.
It was early May and, like many third-years, I was busy revising for my final exams whilst worrying about life after University. I had applied to my fair share of jobs but, despite becoming one of the top four applicants for a large PR graduate scheme, nothing had come my way. The fear of unemployment was real. Luckily, I came across a graduate internship role at the University of Exeter one afternoon whilst I should have been revising. A couple of days later, I remember the sheer excitement I felt when, whilst discussing how I was going to get a graduate job with my career mentor ironically, I looked down at my Blackberry to notice a small email icon. I had been invited to interview.
The next week flew by. By the time I was on the train back from my interview (I studied at the Cornwall Campus), I had finished all of my exams and was beginning to realise that I would soon embark on my post-University life. As I looked out at the sun setting over the Devon coast, I suddenly felt very ‘grown up’. The Employment Services team at the University had promised me I would be told the outcome of the interview that day. It was a strange feeling knowing how much my life could change in one phone call. It was typical that it would come whilst I was going through a tunnel. Heart hammering, I waited for the next ring. And this is where I shall give you my first bit of advice:
If you need to cry on the phone to your future employer, make sure you’re not also displaying signs of regret, confusion and despair.
It can make the first day a little awkward. Of course I accepted the job. I was thrilled. Yes, I was utterly terrified about moving to a strange city on my own, I was quite sad about missing the graduation summer but this was an actual job. It was an actual job that I would enjoy too.
One of the best things about working at the University is the induction process. Although, like most new starters I would expect, it took me a good couple of months to really feel comfortable and confident working on projects on my own, within a couple of weeks I felt at home in the team. I learnt very quickly that in order to get to grips with my role, it was better to ask questions than to stumble around blindly. Your employer would rather you asked a question, in order to move forward with a task, than spend an hour twiddling your thumbs. Indeed, ask once, maybe twice, to solidify your knowledge. Store the answer if you need to for future reference; your employer wants to know you are capable of using your initiative and will not want to answer a question time and time again.
My main role at the University is to support the administration of the Internship schemes whilst organising employer drop ins on campus. However, because my main interests lie in the marketing and PR industry, I was keen to gain some experience in these areas too. Luckily, the University is a large organisation. Thus, by making the most of the marketing techniques I was required to use, I have been able to showcase my creative talents which has led to me taking the lead on several marketing initiatives. My knowledge of the department and my communication skills have also meant I have been given more responsibility in the employer events sphere. I am now equipped with event-management skills including crisis control.
It is important when you work in an organisation that you show off your talents. The more your employer trusts you, the more responsibility you will hold. In order to make the most of your internship, be efficient with your main tasks. This will be conducive to bargaining for more challenging objectives. Lastly, your CV will thank you for it.
When I graduated I was told that I had a number of skills, it is only now that I can see how to truly use them. It is like being given a palette of paint. There are varying amounts of different colours but it is up to you to decide what you want to create. Work experience will help you to do this.
It is important to remember too that this is simply the beginning. A graduate internship is designed to help you to decipher which brush strokes you need to use and which colours work best. It will not give you the complete picture; that is what the rest of your life is for.
And so, although I do not know what is around the corner, I know that my decision to take my graduate internship and move to Exeter was meant to be. After all, I have built lasting relationships here, both personal and professional. Who knows where they will take me?
Rebecca Hadfield, Employment Services Support Assistant
University of Exeter