Immy Kerr is currently undertaking a placement year with the University of Exeter (SCP) alongside her Liberal Arts degree.
All students from all courses can apply for SCP and SBP roles, but at the University of Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can gain work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/
My name is Immy, and I’m a Second Year student studying Liberal Arts, taking modules in English, Marketing and Politics. I chose to take the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module this year for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was keen to boost my CV, through both one-to-one tuition in creating a stand-out CV, as well as the valuable experience of the work placement itself. As well as a 40-hour placement, the module also teaches philosophical theories behind work and the workplace, real-life ethical issues, critical thinking, and the value and importance of humanities in a society in which it seems the arts are becoming increasingly redundant. This is not to mention that I am now earning money as part of my degree, which is definitely a perk!
“I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, and the job is well paid.”
It goes without saying that any type of job or placement is particularly difficult to source during a pandemic, and it meant that I had to rethink my strategy when applying. Many big companies do not offer a 40-hour placement scheme, and small companies are struggling during this difficult economic climate, so I turned to county councils and charities since my interests lie in public service and corporate social responsibility. Again, this was not easy due to restrictions in face-to-face working. However after a helpful meeting with the university’s placement advisor Simon Allington, I started applying for University of Exeter internships which I found on Handshake. Here, they are categorised into SCP (Student Campus Partnership) which is an internship within the University, and SBP (Student Business Partnership), which is an internship with a local business, advertised to university students. I applied for an SCP job entitled Administrative Assistant for Access to Internships, which I was delighted to have been offered. I started the job in January and work remotely.
Although the placement specifies a minimum of 40 hours, my SCP job is a part-time 6-month contract (currently 7 hours per week increasing to 15 hours next term). My role is to assist in the administrative workings of a scheme called Access to Internships, a program that financially supports students in securing a UK internship. My tasks include sending confirmation emails to students and employees; transferring information between spreadsheets, vacancy forms and agreement forms; and sourcing information about local businesses amongst other general admin tasks. I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, the job is very well paid, and it is very convenient that I am able to work from my laptop at home (although I am sad to be missing the full office experience!).
“I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace.”
After graduating, I hope to work in Civil Service, with a particular interest in the Ministry of Justice, or any area of government more broadly. I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace. My job also bears a link to social responsibility and public service since the goal of the Access to Internships scheme is to create a level playing field in order to create equal opportunities for students of all backgrounds. I would very much recommend the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module to all humanities students; it is a fantastic opportunity to gain extremely worthwhile experience alongside a degree which will most definitely be useful when searching for a job after graduating.
Claire Humphries is currently on a Placement Year with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern, alongside her Geography and Business Management (Flexible Combined Honours) Degree. At Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can get work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/
I chose to do a degree ‘with Employment Experience’ because I wanted to gain some real-life experience in the workplace to help me understand and get a feeling for what it’s like out in the world of business. I thought this experience would benefit me massively in helping understand what I’m interested and passionate about within a business setting going forward to help with my future career.
“I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful.”
The search for placements is a tricky one and I would suggest starting sooner rather than later as lots of different companies have different closing dates and there is a lot of competition. It’s also really important to read the information about the placement properly and ensure you fill out everything required to better your chances of getting to the next stage. I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful. With placement applications I found that practice helps, particularly with on-line tests, and I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.
“I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.”
My Placement year has been with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern. Despite my year being severely impacted by the Coronavirus I have gained good business experience, even if it was very different to what I was expecting when I first applied. I may not have experienced working in an office environment, but I have learnt a valuable skill in ‘working from home’ and being part of a ‘virtual office’. My placement taught me the importance of networking within the workplace as well as the value of informal conversations and catch-ups which help maintain motivation and a healthy mindset. For me this took place in the form of weekly catch-ups with my fellow interns and also some informal team building sessions throughout the year. I also learnt a number of new business skills that I will take with me for my career including time management, project work, presentation skills and the use of different IT platforms.
“Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken… Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting.”
Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken. It’s given me the opportunity to go through rigorous job application processes and it will allow me to use the work experience I have gained to help with future job applications once I graduate. Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting, and this will help me tailor what modules I choose in my final year.
Adam Jones is the CTO and MD of Technology at Redington
He talked to us about his career path, and the twists and turns that took him from A to Z.
Picture this… The year is 1998, you walk into a Chinese takeaway and a gangly, long haired teenager is standing there ready to take your order. Ten years later that same teenager has graduated from Exeter and completed a postgraduate certificate in Landscape Archaeology.
Fast forward a further ten years and that teenager is now the MD of ADA, Redington’s software business and the Chief Technology Officer for Redington, a leading investment consultancy which advises on more than half a billion pounds worth of assets.
That teenager was me.
When Exeter asked me to write about my experiences at University, the path I have taken, and how Exeter was part of that journey I had to think pretty hard. Like many other people (more perhaps than you would expect), the steps that long haired, gangly teenager took to become that Managing Director were not always in a straight line.
Throughout my time at Exeter I was working for EDF Energy. My role at that company varied a lot whilst I was there. It covered basic admin tasks, simple financial work and a some operations work. Above all though, the thing that I remember most was spending hours and hours putting little plastic electricity tokens into envelopes and posting them around the country.
“Look at your degree as a foundation, a way of putting together essential and fundamental skills that are going to serve you well throughout your working life.”
By the time I finished my degree, the role at EDF had become more focused on technology and I was running a small project to change some of the infrastructure that EDF used. I realised that I really enjoyed the technology aspect of the job, and it was something I found really interesting. The role required me to be able to think through and solve problems, problems that sometimes I didn’t actually understand in the first instance, but there was an intellectual aspect to the work that I wasn’t used to and it was something that really resonated with me.
I realised that I had to make a choice because I was working a full time job and also doing a part time Masters in Archaeology. Part of me wanted to do a PhD in Archaeology and turn that into a career, but the other part of me wanted to explore this technology career and roll with it. It’s worth noting that this wasn’t an easy decision to make and it took a lot of deliberation, largely because both of them felt like exciting and positive opportunities; something a lot of people will experience when they graduate, or at different points in their careers. As someone who had previously only focused on finding a job, good or bad it was quite a new experience for me.
“I assumed that hiring an Archaeology graduate into a technology role would be challenging for employers. What I actually found was that most employers looked past the subject that I studied, and instead focused on the skills that I had gained within my degree.”
Ultimately, I decided to pursue technology and soon realised that working for an energy company wasn’t the best way of doing that. I applied to every technology company that I could find in the South West. I was in no way picky when applying for these jobs, as I assumed that hiring an Archaeology graduate into a technology role would be challenging for employers. What I actually found was that most employers looked past the subject that I studied, and instead focused on the skills that I had gained within my degree. For example, my ability to research, my ability to communicate, my ability to work with data etc. They also really valued my work experience. Having a number of years of work under my belt was a great enabler to securing my first post University role.
I landed at a company called FNZ who are based in Bristol. They build investment platforms which power the fund and equity trading, that banks insurance companies and wealth managers use. I spent a couple of years at FNZ as a business analyst. The job role was to be an intermediary between the clients and the software development team. The main focus was to translate the requirements that the client has into documents that the software engineers could use to develop the platform.
The job of a business analyst is really interesting as it requires a lot of problem solving but it also requires you to understand different roles around you. For example, what does a client think about this particular piece of functionality? How can you articulate what the client needs to a software developer? How can you get a good enough understanding of the platform so that you aren’t creating unreasonable requests?
This mesh of understanding ultimately contributed to a broader and more reusable skill. Stakeholder management. I started to learn about Stakeholder Management during my time at EDF but also during my time at University, where group work would often be needed and where the ability to influence others and the ability to work together on an outcome becomes important.
After FNZ I went to work for a management consultancy called Altus. At Altus I worked for around 30 different companies across a range of different engagements. All of them were focused in the financial services sector and indeed typically on investments, pensions or general insurance. This again required my skills of stakeholder management but also increasingly required my ability to present information and interpret data to understand the “so what” that sat behind it. The skills I’d learned at University became a key part of this role, and the other thing that I realised was that domain expertise is an incredible enabler for good work and indeed a requirement which shouldn’t be under estimated.
“This accumulation of expertise is something that people pick up throughout their career but equally people often underestimate how transferable this is.”
Knowing how a bank works from the inside, based on experience and based on different projects that you may have worked on allows you to carry out further work at different banks more effectively. This accumulation of expertise is something that people pick up throughout their career but equally people often underestimate how transferable this is. For example knowing how a big bank works puts you in pretty good stead to know how almost any large business operates, they all have the same challenges around technology, operations, client engagement and management.
After Altus, I joined Redington to take up my current role. I have two main jobs. The first is to ensure that our core consultancy becomes increasingly digitised in how we run our business, and also how we deliver our services to clients. The second is to develop our ADA business which sells our core technology platform to other financial services institutions. On a day to day basis this sees me managing a team of more than 50 people across multiple countries. We now currently have more than 60 companies using our ADA software and it models more than half a billion pounds worth of assets. In order to do this role I have to rely on a combination of things I’ve already mentioned. In part it requires the expertise I’ve gathered from working with financial services businesses and understanding their technology and the challenges the industry faces. It also requires a range of softer skills such as stakeholder management, the ability to communicate, the ability to present, and to understand complex strategic initiatives.
So that summarises my job today and how the gangly, long haired teenager got there. This only really leaves me to provide some advice for others as they look forward to their careers.
“One of the big things employers look for in graduates, is the fact that they can learn and that they can demonstrate the application of that learning and securing a really solid grade is it great way of making sure that happens.”
Degrees don’t define your destination
If nothing else, please let me be an example to you that your course does not define who you are and the career that you will embark on. I am also a fine example to show you that once you have taken on a job, it doesn’t mean that you are in that mould or in that profession for life. Instead look at your degree as a foundation, a way of putting together essential and fundamental skills that are going to serve you well throughout your working life.
There is more to University than studying
It’s easy to singularly focus on your studies but so much of the experience that I took from University came from other activities; be it playing in a rock band, travelling and seeing new sights with different people, joining societies and meeting with like-minded people in a way that you just can’t do outside of University, these things are not merely social, they all add to the skill sets that you have.
But the studying does matter
While there is more to life than studying, it’s certainly worth putting in the hours. When I go for a job now does anyone care whether I got a first or a 2:1? No, probably not. Was having a first useful when I went for that first technology job? Almost certainly. One of the big things employers look for in graduates, is the fact that they can learn and that they can demonstrate the application of that learning and securing a really solid grade is it great way of making sure that happens.
I’m Julia, and I graduated from the University of Exeter with BA French and Spanish in 2019. I recently completed a GBP Marketing and Communications role, promoting University business partnerships and research, and I have now progressed to a new role in the Student Startups team.
I came across the Marketing and Communications Coordinator GBP vacancy in the Career Zone Job Bulletin, which I subscribed to in my final year, as I was keen to hear of upcoming job opportunities. The majority of roles advertised in the bulletin are entry-level roles which are a good fit for recent Graduates, which is very helpful.
I was interested in getting a job in marketing or content writing, as during my year abroad in Spain I kept a travel blog, which I’d really enjoyed writing and designing. While at University I had been social media and publicity officer for my acappella group, and once again I enjoyed the experience of creating engaging content and sharing positive stories of the groups’ achievements.
“The GBP was a 6-month duration, which I thought was a good amount of time to get a feel for whether marketing was right for me.”
The GBP role was in the Innovation, Impact and Business (IIB) department at the University, who oversee partnerships and research collaborations between academics and businesses. I was unsure if I would be considered given I was not a business student, however the responsibilities of the role seemed to be writing and communications-focussed which appealed to me. The GBP was a 6-month duration, which I thought was a good amount of time to get a feel for whether marketing was right for me.
The application and interview process was quite speedy, I filled in an application form outlining my skills, interests and experiences and was invited to interview the following week. My interview panel (and soon-to-be colleagues) were friendly and down-to-earth which helped me relax and things seemed to be go smoothly. I was delighted and relieved when I got the call to say I’d got the job!
“I was an awarded an ‘Above and Beyond Award’ for the marketing support I had delivered to the IIB department in these initial 6 months, which was a huge boost to my confidence.”
I started my role working in a team of three on several projects for the IIB department. These included writing case studies, creating several new microsites (within the University website), launching a new research blog, and working with the University design team to create flyers and banners for events. I was an awarded an ‘Above and Beyond Award’ for the marketing support I had delivered to the IIB department in these initial 6 months, which was a huge boost to my confidence.
When my contract was due to end, I was offered an extension of my role for a further year, but was moved from the Communications and Marketing team into the IIB department itself – no longer delivering projects from afar, but now doing marketing ‘in-house’ so to speak! This was a change as I switched teams, offices and line manager, but it allowed me to build on the comms experience I already had while seizing new opportunities. I wrote press releases about partner projects, delivered social media training to various teams in the department, and supported the Student Startups team with their social media and student communications. This new setup gave me the chance to work with many different teams within the department and meet lots of different colleagues. In some ways, this was made even easier during the pandemic where colleagues in different offices or campuses were just a Microsoft Teams call away! I was also granted various personal development opportunities and took courses on Adobe InDesign, Digital Marketing, and Web Analytics to learn more about different aspects of marketing.
“My (current) role involves managing the day-to-day running of the programmes, responding to student queries, event planning and overseeing comms and social media. I’m really grateful that my GBP role paved the way for this opportunity…”
I am now working as Senior Administrator for Student Startups, who deliver a series of programmes to students which allow them to develop entrepreneurial skills and launch their own enterprises. My role involves managing the day-to-day running of the programmes, responding to student queries, event planning and overseeing comms and social media. I’m really grateful that my GBP role paved the way for this opportunity as I was already helping this team one day a week with their comms during my GBP, which was a fantastic way to get to know the team and the work they do. Rather than just promoting the success stories and final outputs of their programmes, I will now be involved in facilitating every step of the support they deliver to students.
Although this role progression may seem a sidestep from the career I was pursuing in marketing, a large part of my role will still be focussed on delivering communications, e-newsletters and social media which I know I enjoy. I also get to develop new skills in general administration, project management and event planning, and it is this exposure to new experiences that I think is important at this stage in my career.
“I would encourage anyone considering applying to a GBP role to go for it – I think it’s a fantastic option for a Graduate taking their first step in their career. Whilst working as a GBP, I would recommend you look for new opportunities to develop where you can, as this has really opened new doors to me and allowed me to progress.”
Before my GBP, I hadn’t considered higher education as a sector I would like to work in long-term but now I definitely am. Not only is the University a friendly and supportive environment to work in, there is also a huge range of roles available and a variety of opportunities you can get involved in. I have also found promoting the University where I was previously a student a very rewarding experience.
I would encourage anyone considering applying to a GBP role to go for it – I think it’s a fantastic option for a Graduate taking their first step in their career. Whilst working as a GBP, I would recommend you look for new opportunities to develop where you can, as this has really opened new doors to me and allowed me to progress.
Maddy Graduated in 2020 from the University of Exeter in BA Theology and Religion. She’s currently on a placement with Teach First.
I had been considering teaching prior to leaving school having first heard about Teach First when I was in Sixth Form. I was reminded about Teach First years later through a friend who had applied during her 2nd year. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some graduate job interviews under my belt before 3rd year, so I applied in January 2019, and received my place in March 2019.
Teach First were supportive throughout my application process. The process was simple, and I heard back from Teach First within a fortnight of my application. The assessment centre, and general application process, gives applicants several opportunities to show their strengths. This meant for me, where I lacked in certain skills, I made up for in other aspects throughout the day.
“Tips for prospective applicants: show your ability to learn… reflect on challenges you have faced. Most of all, confidence is key, be assertive in stating your goals and achievements.”
Tips for prospective applicants: show your ability to learn. Teach First values a person’s reflection skills and ability to rebuild on experiences. You are encouraged to reflect on challenges you have faced, giving you an opportunity to show how you are able to solve problems and deal with difficult situations. Most of all, confidence is key, be assertive in stating your goals and achievements.
Unlike a PGCE qualification, I am in school from the very start which allows me to train on the job. Though the experience is intensive, you are able to learn quickly and develop faster than those on a university-based course. Simultaneously whilst you are in a school, you are completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) part-time. The scheme can be challenging, but it provides trainees with a great opportunity to learn quickly.
Every day is different, despite being a cliché. A school environment, especially at a Teach First school is so vibrant. Being able to tackle challenges, both academically and pastorally everyday makes no school day the same as another.
“I felt I have been given an opportunity to develop in a supportive environment, encouraged to learn from mistakes, and grow from experience… I am becoming more confident every day and have developed brilliant working relationships with my colleagues.”
The Teach First Graduate scheme allows for continued professional development. Trainees attend the Summer Institute where they receive training for how to teach in some of Britain’s most deprived schools. We have continued CPD sessions throughout the year from placement schools and Teach First. I felt I have been given an opportunity to develop in a supportive environment, encouraged to learn from mistakes, and grow from experience. Personally, I am becoming more confident every day and have developed brilliant working relationships with my colleagues and have found my place in a new city.
I am in my first year of the scheme, ending in 2022. Afterwards, I am looking to focus my skills beyond teaching. I love the job, being part of those ‘light bulb moments’ is a special feeling. Teach First emphasises the importance of leadership and management skills in their trainees, and provide support for those who choose to leave teaching after they complete the programme. I have no secure plans yet for my career prospects after the 2-year programme – but I will use the wide-reaching Teach First network to support this transition.
“Teach First emphasises the importance of leadership and management skills in their trainees, and provide support for those who choose to leave teaching after they complete the programme.”
Live or Online learning has been challenging for many of society’s most vulnerable children. Seeing pupils on live lessons, being given that opportunity to interact with each other, though it’s behind a screen is a special thing to be a part of. All teachers strive to do the best by their pupils and it made me so happy to hear this very week that one of my live lessons on the Purpose of Suffering, was one of the best a pupil had had. She took the time to come and tell me that and have an interaction with me based of my lesson. That’s a special feeling, that even though the times we are teaching in are very challenging, teachers can still make an impact through their practice.
Applications for Teach First’s 2021 Training Programme close on Wednesday 7th April Start your application today and receive 1-2-1 personalised support from the recruitment team.
If you have any questions get in touch with Catherine your dedicated Teach First recruiter at Exeter alternatively send her a message on LinkedIn.
We know that with COVID-19 the opportunities to travel are limited, but (hopefully) that won’t always be the case. Molly Allen is a current University of Exeter student studying BA English with EEA (Employment Experience Abroad), and this is her account how of stepping out of her comfort zone changed how she feels about herself, and her future.
From July 2018, to August 2019, I worked for a wilderness tourism and expedition company based in British Columbia, Canada. I initially enrolled as a marketing intern to gain experience working in the business’s Sales and Marketing department. However, as the year progressed and my experience and skills-set grew, I was able to take on greater responsibilities and leadership positions that moved beyond my original office role. With an invested interest in devising and leading wilderness expeditions, I was offered incredible opportunities to not only gain exposure of how a successful outdoor adventure company functions, but I was able to develop into, and ultimately be employed as, one of their lead wilderness guides.
“I knew that because of its remote wilderness location, I was going to be cut off from friends, family and everything that I found familiar.”
I arrived at the company’s base, which is situated in the heart of BC’s coastal mountain range, at the beginning of July. It was a nerve-wracking experience arriving at their doorstep, knowing that for the next twelve months this was not only going to be my place of employment, it was also going to be my home. I knew that because of its remote wilderness location, I was going to be cut off from friends, family and everything that I found familiar. However, the realisation that I was not only going to have to learn how to adapt to the world of work, but also have to embrace a completely different way of living, was initially a challenging one.
The first few weeks were definitely the most difficult. From the start I was thrown in the deep end, where I spent the first few weeks on a ‘crash-course’ in marketing; receiving tuition on the different components that structured the business’s internal organisation. I was placed amongst a multidisciplinary team, where I was introduced to the different strategies needed to successfully plan, market and book wilderness guide schools and expeditions. At first it was quite an overwhelming experience, and I found it hard to retain all the information that I had being given. However, the insights I gained at this stage were invaluable, and it was this knowledge that set me up with the foundations that I needed to enable myself to grow and specialise as the year progressed.
“A distant goal of mine has always been to be an expedition leader and, as I was now part of an outdoor adventure company, I was determined to see if I could get this goal of mine a step closer to reality.”
After I settled into my role within the marketing team, I started to broaden my horizons on the opportunities that I could potentially take advantage of during my stay. A distant goal of mine has always been to be an expedition leader and, as I was now part of an outdoor adventure company, I was determined to see if I could get this guiding goal of mine a step closer to reality. I voiced my ambitions to the company early on and, when they saw my passion for working in the outdoors, they were willing to offer me an opportunity to chase this goal. However, to achieve this, I had to prove to them that I could make the cut.
“I was taught everything from backcountry survival skills, scouting and tracking wildlife, wilderness navigation and camp management procedures.”
It was at the beginning of August when a space became available for one of the guiding positions, and I was enrolled into one of the company’s Guide Training programs. This was made up of four weeks of intensive training in the mountains, where I was taught everything from backcountry survival skills, scouting and tracking wildlife, wilderness navigation and camp management procedures. Upon completing the program, I was then sent down to Vancouver to take exams for the required licences, which included: Wilderness Advanced First Aid, Food Safe, and two different firearms licences (required in case of bear attacks). It was an incredibly challenging four weeks, but I loved every minute of it. I had really found my niche and it was a job that I felt very passionate about. Furthermore, I had proven to my bosses that I could be responsible for safety and care of groups of people in the remote wilderness. This meant that, at the beginning of September, I was able to commence my new role as an expedition leader.
So in the fall season (from September to November) I led different groups on various expeditions and wildlife-viewing tours across the South Chilcotin Mountains. It was an incredible experience, where I was not only able to refine the physical skills required to be a successful wilderness guide, but I was also able to develop skills such as: effective and flexible leadership strategies, effective communication and an advanced management of trips. Indeed, once the season had ended, I found myself to be a different person; one who was not only confident in my own capabilities, but one where the team had complete faith in my own abilities, knowledge and decision-making.
“Once the season had ended, I found myself to be a different person; one who was not only confident in my own capabilities, but one where the team had complete faith in my own abilities, knowledge and decision-making.”
With the guiding season over, I returned back to the office to resume my marketing internship over the winter months. Having had these incredible experiences guiding in the mountains, I found that when I returned to the office, my performance in marketing department improved dramatically. This was because I not only had a far deeper understanding of what I was marketing, but I also really believed in it. My improved performance meant that, for the next five months, I was able to participate in a variety of tasks; from collaborating with members of the marketing department, to taking up my own individual projects. It was a very insightful and educational five months (albeit cold-it got down to -31 degrees!), and it really helped me understand that the businesses that create a work environment that is value-driven (where individuals see significance and satisfaction in the work they do), are the businesses that are the most successful.
“My new-found feeling of self-confidence has not only given me the motivation for my next chapter in life beyond University, but it has increased my expectations of the goals that I can set myself. No longer does my future seem scary; it is now very exciting.”
When May finally rolled over, and my contract for my internship ended, I stayed on and resumed my role as a guide for the summer pack-trip season. At this point, with all the experiences that I had gained since I first arrived, I was able to step up and take on the responsibilities for planning, organising and leading the multi-day wildlife-viewing expeditions and wilderness guide schools. This achievement was something that I would have never believed I could accomplish just twelve months ago. My new-found feeling of self-confidence has not only given me the motivation for my next chapter in life beyond University, but it has increased my expectations of the goals that I can set myself. No longer does my future seem scary; it is now very exciting.
Holly Van Ryssen, a 2nd year English student, took part in the Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage programme earlier this year. Due to COVID-19, Professional Pathways was converted to remote internship opportunities, with students undertaking internships in a variety of roles across a wide range of companies. Holly talks about her role as a Marketing Development Assistant for ‘Powderham Live!’ and what she has gained from completing an internship remotely.
When I tell people that I study English at the University of Exeter, I’m always met with the following response: “Ah, so you want to be a teacher then?”. Certainly, I’d be lying if I said that teaching wasn’t a profession that I’ve considered. However, I’ve always believed that the beauty of an English degree is that it enables you to study a subject you love while at the same time leaving your options open to explore several different career paths. Perfect for someone who can’t make decisions!
Going into my Second Year, nearly halfway through my time at University, I suddenly became acutely aware that I had no idea what I wanted to do at the end of my studies. I was keen to start exploring the options I had available to me and, was hoping to be able to use the summer before my final year to gain some invaluable work experience. When I heard about Professional Pathways, a careers scheme run by the University of Exeter providing sector-specific training and week-long paid internships, I knew that I had to apply.
Then, of course, Covid-19 hit. We were all sent home, the Pathways assessment centre was cancelled, and it seemed as though the prospect of a paid summer internship was firmly off the cards…
“Numerous cover letters, and a couple of video interviews later, I’d secured an internship as a Marketing Assistant at Powderham Live!. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!”
When I received an email from the Pathways team informing all applicants that they were working on securing some remote internships, I was shocked! While I felt terrified at the prospect of applying for and completing an internship entirely online, I knew that it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down and that would provide me with invaluable experience moving forward into the future. Numerous cover letters, and a couple of video interviews later, I’d secured an internship as a Marketing Assistant at Powderham Live!. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
During my internship at Powderham Live!, I worked on many different projects, all of which aimed to find new ways to promote not only the event itself but also the young musicians and their huge network of supporters. In particular, I enjoyed creating a set of brand guidelines that will now be used to inform all content published by Powderham Live!, both in print and online. Not only this, but I enjoyed working on a new social media strategy; in recent weeks, it has been really rewarding to see many of the campaigns I planned featured on the Powderham Live! social media pages.
Having had little experience in marketing, I was worried before starting my internship that I wouldn’t know what to do! At first, both Emily (fellow intern and University of Exeter student) and I felt hugely daunted at the prospect of creating a professional document that accurately represented the values and ethos of Powderham Live!. However, both Derry (Heritage Manager at Powderham Castle) and AJ (Countess of Devon and founder of Powderham Live!) were extremely supportive, clearly explaining what they wanted while at the same time allowing us to indulge in our own ideas and creative spirit. We were even invited to whole team meetings where we were able to share what we had been working on and give feedback to the other team members!
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, I found it extremely rewarding to work on a project with a clear social purpose. I know that the work I carried out during my internship will not only help the team behind the scenes at Powderham Live!, but will have a huge impact on the experience of young musicians in Devon.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I found it extremely rewarding to work on a project with a clear social purpose. I know that the work I carried out during my internship will not only help the team behind the scenes at Powderham Live!, but will have a huge impact on the experience of young musicians in Devon. Indeed, at a time when the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector is facing unprecedented challenges, it felt amazing to work on a project that I know will bring so much joy to so many people, and that will help keep the magic of the arts alive!
Without a doubt, the experience I’ve had working remotely at Powderham Live! will set me in good stead when entering the job market during these difficult times. Thanks to the Pathways scheme, I’ve now had practice applying for, beginning, and completing an internship entirely remotely, an experience that I know will be invaluable moving forward into the future! In particular, I’ve been able to improve my video-based interview technique, as well as develop my ability to work from home productively, skills which will help me both when completing my third year of university online, and also when applying for jobs.
“Without a doubt, the experience I’ve had working remotely at Powderham Live! will set me in good stead when entering the job market during these difficult times. Thanks to the Pathways scheme, I’ve now had practice applying for, beginning, and completing an internship entirely remotely, an experience that I know will be invaluable moving forward into the future!”
When I received the email from the Professional Pathways team back in May informing us of some remote internship opportunities, I very nearly didn’t apply… However, I’m so glad that I did! While I’m still not sure what I want to do post-university, I now feel more confident about the prospect of graduating in the middle of a global pandemic! Pathways 2020 has taught me many things, most importantly, how to be adaptable and open-minded in the face of adversity. However, best of all, it has given me an answer to that dreaded question: “What did you do over lockdown?”.
Applications for Professional Pathways 2021 are now open! You can find further details on how to apply here. The training programme will be delivered entirely online in June 2021 and we currently anticipate the internships will also be remote-working.
I’m Leyla Mohammed, and I’m in my final year of studying BA English at the University of Exeter. This summer I completed a four-week SBP in Marketing and Talent Administration. My biggest career aspirations involve writing and journalism, as well as social media work and marketing.
I recently undertook a four-week SBP (Student Business Partnership) as a Marketing and Talent Intern with Creative Access, which I found through My Career Zone. Creative Access is a not-for-profit recruitment organisation who aim to provide more underrepresented individuals with opportunities within the creative industries. Though this internship was supposed to be based in offices in London, due to the nature of current circumstances it was entirely remote. It was an incredibly fast turnaround and was quite an unexpected start, which meant that I had to quickly adjust and adapt.
WHY I APPLIED
I chose to explore working in marketing because while I have many different passions, interests and personal endeavours, I’m still in the process of figuring out which direction I’d like to progress and develop my career in. My primary focus has always been writing, and after completing an internship last year as an Editorial Assistant with The Daily Mirror (through My Career Zone too) I found it to be very valuable experience. However, as well as writing and journalism, I am interested in many other industries – one of which being that of marketing. Therefore, I chose to apply for this internship, hoping to gain a first-hand insight into the ins and outs of the marketing sector.
“The team and I recognised my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to excel in things I had a natural flare for, and work on things I didn’t.”
HOW THE ROLE STARTED
As I was working from home, to start off with the work involved me familiarising myself with the various system software, running meetings via Zoom or MS Teams, and just the general gist of the WFH lifestyle. Getting used to working entirely online was somewhat challenging. I found it difficult adjusting to a lifestyle that involved sitting at home all day and staring at screens for extended periods of time. However, I gradually learned ways to make it more manageable for myself – (which I ended up writing about for the Creative Access blog, which you can read here!)
HOW THE ROLE DEVELOPED
My days followed a loose structure – I would start at 10am, finish at 6pm, and have a daily Teams meeting at midday to check in with everyone. This was ideal as it meant that everyone was aware of what was going on, and what work to complete going forward with the day. The Creative Access team was small (when I joined, there were only six others) so it was easy to communicate through our group chat and on our video calls.
Over the course of the four weeks, I naturally became more confident in my role. Very quickly, I found that I became comfortable with the tasks I was set and consequently took on more and more each day. The team and I recognised my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to excel in things I had a natural flare for, and work on things I didn’t. Generally, my day-to-day tasks included: managing and updating the system database; organising, scheduling and hosting meetings via Zoom; writing articles for the Creative Access blog; and creating content for all Creative Access social media platforms.
By the end of the four weeks, I was lucky enough to be offered permanent employment with Creative Access, meaning that I will be able to continue to work on a part-time, freelance basis throughout the course of the next academic year.
“Moving forward, this SBP has taught me not only about the marketing and social media industries, but also about my working style.”
As an aspiring writer, I would say my greatest success of this internship was being able to write articles for the Creative Access blog. Not only did I find this most enjoyable, but I was able to share my passion for writing with this new market of people, and have my work published on their platforms.
One of the best things about working within a small team was that they really listened and considered my personal endeavours and interests, tailoring my internship in a way that was most beneficial and rewarding for me.
NEXT STEP IN MY CAREER
Moving forward, this SBP has taught me not only about the marketing and social media industries, but also about my working style, strengths and weaknesses. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy working in all aspects of marketing, and I’d love to progress my career in this industry alongside my other interests. Furthermore, as with any work experience or internship, this SBP allowed me to network with professionals and make new connections, many of whom I’m sure I’ll be in touch with throughout the coming years.
I would definitely recommend taking on an internship of some sort. As a student intern you will gain unique and truly valuable experience that is difficult to gain elsewhere.
Maddie Davies graduated from the University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, with BA English in 2018. She’s currently Content Beauty Writer for online beauty retailer Feelunique.
Upon graduating from Exeter I went on to travel around Sri Lanka for a month and returned home to begin job hunting. In August and September, I started an internship with London Evening Standard supporting the fashion and beauty team in the run-up and duration of London Fashion Week. During this fulfilling (unpaid) experience, I began applying for jobs that centralised around writing in the beauty industry, which is now one of the biggest industries in the UK. One day I applied for the role as a Beauty Writer for Feelunique; the next day, I was being asked to attend an interview the following week. A month later, I started my first job as a graduate at Feelunique based in Covent Garden.
“My part-time job throughout University was working as a make-up artist for brands such as Benefit Cosmetics and MAC. As an English student, it made sense to combine my love for beauty and my enthusiasm for writing.”
My part-time job throughout university was working as a make-up artist for brands such as Benefit Cosmetics and MAC. As an English student, it made sense to combine my love for beauty and my enthusiasm for writing. I love that I am working for one of the largest industries in the UK, an industry that is creative and constantly evolving. It’s the first major industry to take a positive step forward in animal cruelty and the reduction of plastic. It’s also an industry that welcomes all ages and genders. We are also capturing a new generation – one that is actually interested in what goes into their products, what it does for their skin and how it impacts the wider environment. I am constantly learning in this industry and I am forever excited by what’s to come.
I loved the campus – it felt like a little student bubble plonked right on top of the hill that couldn’t be burst. I loved that I could do my work somewhere different every day and not get bored of it (even if 60% of my dissertation was written in Queen’s Cafe drinking flat whites and eating pastries).
I choose to study at Exeter because of its tremendous reputation for teaching, particularly for English. The syllabus excited me from the moment I saw it on the first open day in June 2016 – I just knew that I was going to study there. With my home being South Wales, the hills and greenery of Exeter didn’t feel too far away from what I was used to. So, I think the idea of a home-away-from-home had a bit of a part to play in my decision making, too.
I’ve learned how to interact with PRs and how that industry works so well with the world of beauty. I’ve had the experience of interviewing major leaders in this field, such as Charlotte Tilbury, Huda Kattan and Trinny Woodall. Throughout my time as an intern I was fortunate enough to be published in Cosmopolitan, Red Magazine, and London Evening Standard Online.
“Email as many people as you can for work experience – for some of my internships I emailed every address I could find (a total of 48) and only one got back to me. From there it snowballed, so don’t be afraid to do the same.”
Get as much experience on your CV as possible; this industry seeks grafters, if they see you’ve been working unpaid, that shows them how much you want to succeed. I hope to go on to be a senior beauty writer and from there I’d be excited to see where the industry takes me.
Email as many people as you can for work experience – for some of my internships I emailed every address I could find (a total of 48) and only one got back to me. From there it snowballed, so don’t be afraid to do the same. Appreciate that you will have to do the rubbish jobs. Mine included picking up dry-cleaning, making tea and cleaning fruit. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you, some like to see how much you’re willing to do – others are simply too busy to do it themselves. Make sure you’re on the pulse of newness in this field. Something new and exciting is always happening here and to show that you know that is a huge bonus.
Jennifer Fox graduated from the University of Exeter in 2017 with BA Modern Languages. She’s currently a GBP working for the University helping with the transition to a blended learning environment.
I completed my Bachelor’s degree in French and Italian at the University of Exeter; a four-year course with an Erasmus year studying in Italy, and a fantastic experience. In my final year, I felt like I wasn’t yet finished with studying and decided to enrol on a Master’s course in Linguistics at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. The first year of my Master’s was spent in Belgium and the second in southeast France, where I completed one semester as an Erasmus student and one as an intern at Université Grenoble-Alpes. By the time I’d finished my dissertation and graduated in September 2019, I felt ready to return to the UK, and to transition from student life to the world of work (plus I was tired of being poor!).
Why I applied for a GBP role
As a University of Exeter graduate, I received emails from the Career Zone about graduate opportunities and while I was abroad, I subscribed to the GBP Bulletin to keep up to date with the kind of positions that were being advertised. A Graduate Business Partnership (GBP) role enables you to make that first step into the job market without entering a graduate scheme or needing vast amounts of professional experience to apply for a job. I was attracted to the HE sector and although at the time I hadn’t completely made up my mind that this was the sector I wanted to pursue a career in, I knew that I could use the skills and experience I’d acquired as a student and could apply what I learned in a GBP role to future positions elsewhere.
“A GBP role is a developmental one, which means it is flexible and allows you to take control of what you want to learn.”
How my current role started and how it has developed
I started in my role as a Student Experience Support Officer in January this year. When it began, my primary responsibility was to provide administrative support for Exeter Law School with their Academic Personal Tutoring system. I scheduled and coordinated academic personal tutor meetings by liaising with academics and students. I monitored progress, collated feedback from both staff and students and presented a report to senior staff members. In addition, I assisted in Academic Personal Tutor training and helped run Senior Tutor forums, working alongside colleagues to enhance the academic personal tutoring framework in place at the University.
When all University staff were instructed to work remotely and all face-to-face interactions with students were ceased a week before lockdown, I knew that my work and responsibilities were about to change dramatically. Many of the projects I was working on could not continue and events I was organising would no longer be able to take place because students were returning home. I took the initiative to speak to my line manager and the line manager of the Technology Enhanced Learning team, who were based in the office opposite mine and with whom I’d worked on some previous tasks and I transferred to their team.
The work I do now is completely different. I assist with transitioning teaching and assessments online; producing support materials and advising academics, and professional services staff on a range of software and technologies. This required a lot of self-training, as I had to familiarise myself very quickly with software I had never used before, from Microsoft Teams and SharePoint to screencasting and video applications like Panopto, because I needed to teach other members of staff how to use them. I have also been teaching myself how to navigate the University’s virtual learning environment, ELE, as an administrative user and have built online courses and exams. In the coming months, I will be closely involved with Project Enhance and Enhance Internships, where my team and I will be providing advice, support and training for the SCP Digital Learning Assistants and GBP Graduate Digital Learning Developers, which are really exciting opportunities to assist with blended learning.
“I would highly recommend a GBP role to start a career. Not only does it help you to identify your professional ambitions but it also lays the foundations to achieve them.”
My greatest success and how a GBP will help me progress in my career
I would say my greatest success has been learning to take initiative and adapt in times of uncertainty. I was nominated for an Above & Beyond recognition for overcoming challenges in a new team during the high-pressure Covid-19 situation. Moving to the TEL team was the best decision I could have made; it has given more security and value to my work and strengthened my self-belief – I would never have thought I would be able to do a technology-based role, let alone succeed in one!
A GBP role is a developmental one, which means it is flexible and allows you to take control of what you want to learn. When I first started, my line manager asked me what skills I wanted to acquire and improve to bolster my CV and we tailored my tasks and projects to achieve this. I have used the role to familiarise myself with working in an office environment within a large organisation and across different teams, often meeting and collaborating with different types of people. I have improved my confidence in communicating with senior stakeholders and learned skills in team working, problem solving and resilience, all of which will be indispensable for the next steps in my career.
I would highly recommend a GBP role to start a career. Not only does it help you to identify your professional ambitions but it also lays the foundations to achieve them. It has allowed me to work alongside a range of different people, with different outlooks and knowledge, to hone my transferable skills and to build valuable professional relationships.