All posts by kateadmin

Student Blog Post – Cataloguing Assistant

“The Professional Pathways Programme is one of the best things that I have ever done!”

During the height of Covid-19, I very thankfully managed to get some experience as a cataloguing assistant with the archives through the Professional Pathways Programme.

I was never totally aware of the archives until we had a small tour of the department as a part of one of my modules in first year, where we were able to learn more about the archives and how they can be very useful for writing an essay or research (no matter what you’re studying- there is definitely something for everyone!). However, due to Covid-19, my interaction with the archives became greatly constricted. I knew that they had a few resources online, but the quality and importance of some physical resources felt much more beneficial to me.  The archives are far much more worthy and important than you may think- it’s like having an interactive museum exhibition on your doorstep, and that is something that not everyone is able to experience; you might as well make as much use of it as you can whilst being at university- it will pass you by quickly!

Doing an internship through the Professional Pathways Programme was something that has genuinely helped me beyond what I thought was possible. It sounds cliché, but the way that it helped me build up my confidence, it gave me an insight into a workplace I wasn’t familiar with, I was able to think about where my degree could take me after graduation; the list goes on and on. I now know about different career paths and masters programmes that will suit my degree. The internship isn’t just good for building up skills and learning new ones- it’s a great way to meet other students and people! Even more so, it’s something good to have on your C.V. and a good starting point for when you want to endeavour into other internships or jobs.

I was worried about the challenges that a remote internship would have, but I learnt within the first few days that there are several different things that I could do to make the most of my internship, but also how to do effective work whilst at home. Firstly, understand that it will take you time to adjust to a new way of working; Covid-19 meant that all of us had to find new ways of working and having to change our routines dramatically. You might find that you are able to find a routine for yourself quickly, but you also may struggle and find it difficult- both are okay, and it sometimes takes a little while to find a routine that is effective for you! Setting up working hours is extremely useful. From my own experience, I had flexible hours, but I knew that I wanted to start and end at specific times. Other internships may have fixed hours, but even then, it is useful to adjust your routine around those hours, whether that’s going to bed earlier to get up earlier or changing when you eat lunch. Secondly, try to find an area that you can set up as your working space. Again, this may not be possible for everyone,  but even having a specific spot on the sofa that’s reserved as your working space will help! Another key piece of advice is to take breaks- have a snack, watch some daytime telly, stay hydrated; these are all really important things you need to remember in order to stay focused. My final piece of advice is knowing when to stop working and take some time for yourself. Throwing all of your efforts into your internship is all well and good, but you also need to prioritise your own needs and health first. Having both of these well balanced will do you much good than it will do you harm.

Overall, doing an internship through the Professional Pathways Programme is one of the best things that I have ever done. It was so hugely beneficial (and gave me something to do whilst stuck in lockdown!). I could not recommend it more, and I hope that I can do another one too- if anyone will have me!

Student Blog Post – Project and Audience Manager

“I would recommend the internship programme for any student who wants to embellish their CV by gaining valuable skills.”

Name: Lottie Newman

Degree Programme: BA Greek and Roman Studies

Year of Study: 3

Pathway Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture

Internship Role: Project and Audience Management

Internship Employer: Villages in Action

How do you think this experience will impact your employability as you enter the job market as a recent graduate, during these difficult times? 

During my internship, I learnt many valuable skills that I think will improve my job prospects, especially during these difficult times. Although the internship layout changed slightly from not having to physically visit my place of employment, having the internship online I think was incredibly insightful. It is anticipated that many future businesses and jobs will be relying on staff members to work remotely. Having already experienced this style of working, I think will work to my advantage. Many skills can be gained from this, such as the ability to work independently and focus on the task at hand, despite being in a home environment. Also, I had to take greater initiative to ask for help and guidance which has definitely improved my confidence. It was particularly important to pace the workload myself, again, developing my self-confidence and independence. I had the freedom granted by my employer to add my own personal touches to my work, such as, filming my own videos and carrying out independent research. This was a particularly useful element of the internship since employers depend on reliable and focused employees (especially while working from home). Also, having to use ‘zoom’ to communicate with my manager was another way in which my confidence developed. Especially since this is a relatively new means of communication, I was glad to have gained this experience in preparation for future roles. Generally, having had the opportunity to have worked during the peak of the pandemic I think has prepared me to adapt to a new style of independent and online working, something which not everybody has experience in. 

Why would you recommend a Professional Pathways internship to future students? 

I would recommend a Professional Pathways internship to future students, since it allows the freedom of independent work, as well as gaining important skills to adapt to the current circumstances. A lot of students, in particular, haven’t had the opportunity to gain relevant work experience recently, making the job market more competitive than ever. This is why I feel the Professional Pathways Internship was really useful, due to its accessibility to all students at the university and the transferral of up-to-date skills, adapting to a new way of working. I also felt that my employer gave me the freedom to choose what I wanted to work on, developing my previous skills as well as having new experiences (especially using ‘zoom’ as a prime means of communication). I also found the application process very useful – submitting my cover letter and often having multiple interviews in one week in an online format. I became very familiarised with this interview process, meaning that the next time I apply for a job, I won’t feel so nervous or unprepared. I also really liked the variety of jobs available under the internship programme, allowing a choice to be made about which skills and experiences I would have liked to develop. This is often unusual with internship programmes which often require specific experiences and skills. Overall, I would recommend the internship programme for any student who wants to embellish their CV by gaining valuable skills, such as independent working and developed self-confidence.  

Student Blog Post – Website Content Developer

“I found the work with the Culture Team’s heritage sector challenging, but at the same time incredibly thought-provoking and rewarding.”

At the tender age of eight, I fondly remembered visiting Lichfield Cathedral. I was awe-struck by it. The Cathedral’s imposing spires, majestic arches, and grand scale captured my imagination. Therefore, when I saw the opportunity to work for the University of Exeter’s heritage team as a website content developer, I immediately applied.  

I was asked to produce articles and blog pieces for the University’s Heritage website with my colleague, Kate, whilst also suggesting upgrades for the website and tweets to write. With only a brief knowledge of Devon and Cornwall’s heritage, and of the work that the University was doing to study it, I was excited to begin the role and learn more. The research assistants, Gilda and Eloise, guided me towards some captivating projects. Their research ranged counties and specialities, considering both natural and man-made heritage and its effects on communities, policies, and even animals! My task was to synthesise these insights into four enthralling pieces of writing for a wider audience, which would then have to be publicised. I started with the news articles. Consisting of only a few hundred words, I scoured my research reports for recent events that took my interest. Using a few examples on the Heritage website as my guide, I was excited to discuss Professor DeSilvey’s project, which would investigate strategies into heritage loss and conservation. I was also eager to talk about Dr Naomi Sykes’ new research into why we love to feed animals, using heritage sites as a testing ground. This followed on nicely from Dr Brazier and Puttock’s research into Eurasian beavers on Holnicote estate. 

Moving onto the blog articles, two themes across the heritage sector caught my attention: climate change and the debate around the loss of heritage. Touching upon artistic projects and a bid involving University of Exeter professors, I highlighted how important the consideration of Climate Change was in heritage conservation in the future. However, does this heritage even need to be conserved in the first place? In her book ‘Curated Decay’, Professor DeSilvey suggests that we should allow nature to take its course. This discussion around heritage conservation informed my second blog post. A common thread through these themes, though, was an ethical discussion of what heritage meant to a community. This captivated me the most, reminding me of how I became interested in my own heritage, to begin with. 

How did you overcome a particular challenge during your internship, for example, challenges linked to working remotely? 

I found the work with the Culture Team’s heritage sector challenging, but at the same time incredibly thought-provoking and rewarding. Time management was key. Kate and I managed to produce a schedule for the week, dividing each day into achievable objectives. This skill was very useful in creating the Heritage website’s Twitter timeline as well. However, this would not have been possible without strong teamwork and communication. Meetings and emails with both my team and the professors I wrote about were integral to producing high-quality pieces of writing. In the end, I built some strong connections whilst also deepening my love of the heritage sector through my writing. 

Why would you recommend a Professional Pathways internship to future students? 

The role of website content developer equipped me with some invaluable skills whilst I pursued a field that I would love to work in again in the future. I could not recommend the role enough to anyone keen on finding out more about heritage and what it means for them and their community. 

Student Blog Post – Heritage Innovation Researcher

“My internship was a wonderful experience as it provided me with realistic skills needed in the heritage sector today.”

How did you overcome a particular challenge during your internship, for example challenges linked to working remotely?

As an archaeology undergrad, I was over the moon to have been accepted and was waiting with anticipation for a heritage-related placement! But much like the rest of the world, all these plans were put on hold due to the covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to the efforts of the Pathways team and the wonderful collaborating organisations, remote working positions were arranged so no one missed out on gaining from this worthwhile and professionally enriching experience. Though working remotely had its setbacks, with interaction being limited to the video chatting format, with which we are all so familiar now, I couldn’t have asked for better employers or co-workers. I cannot express in words how unbelievably enriching both personally and professionally this internship has proven to be, and I would highly recommend it to anyone to apply and give it your best shot.

Please outline the project you worked on during your Pathways internship…what achievements are you particularly proud of? How will your work be helping others?

Going into 2020, I was fortunate to have been involved with the University of Exeter’s Professional Pathways scheme, an internship programme designed to give students an authentic workplace experience, along with specialist training in a field of their choosing. I was privileged to have been offered a role at the University itself with the Heritage Innovation department, a team that ensures the University has an extensive pool of partnerships and collaboration networks, operating on an international scale.

I gained infallible insight into the networking skills required within the heritage sector, in addition to learning how many large-scale organisations such as the National Trust operate. A fellow student and I were entrusted to assist in researching and constructing a compressive report, containing all ongoing and completed partnerships, operations of memorandum and projects that the Humanities department were/are undertaking, in addition to the staff involved. This will later become a digital tool for students, staff, and external parties to consult in order to better understand the vast number of projects the University has had a hand in. I was particularly proud of the sheer quantity of information my colleague and I managed to read and research; it was all so interesting and engaging that I could easily have spent days at a time reading about a single project, such as those ongoing with Powderham Castle or the fascinating upcoming project on Vivien Leigh being untaken by the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum.

How has your Professional Pathways internship helped you in taking the next steps in your career, for example, have you gone on to secure another role or has it helped you decide the sector you want to work in?

The internship proved to be great practice in contacting those within the heritage field, in addition to building relationships with those in the sector that has proven valuable as a new graduate, particularly in these difficult times! Although it wasn’t what I was expecting, my internship was a wonderful experience as it provided me with realistic skills needed in the heritage sector today, such as effective communication and research through more innovative means. I’m now fortunate enough to be involved with the SS Great Britain as a direct thanks to my wonderful employers, who have continued to support, mentor, and provide invaluable insight and advice into the world of work. Good luck and all the best in all your upcoming endeavours!

Employer Case Study – University of Exeter Culture Team

“Professional Pathways gives you an insight into how industry works, what jobs are really like and the knowledge and skills you need to work in that sector.”

How would you suggest students can make the most of their 35 hour internship?

Firstly be prepared and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your supervisor. Building a good relationship pays dividends for both the student and the host organisation. Be open and happy to accept there are things you don’t know but want to find out about. The supervisor is there to help you get the most out of the internship so ask for any clarification you need to enable you to do a good job.

Consider carefully what it is you want to achieve in the internship; why did you apply to do it in the first place? When you have alighted on your reasoning communicate this to your supervisor – that way they can help you achieve that ambition. Are there specific skills you’d like to learn, or knowledge you want to accrue? It’s often useful to look at the long game plan of your career ambition – where do you want to be in a few years, what job would you like and what skills and expertise will you need to achieve that? Internships are brilliant opportunities to develop some of those skills that studying alone doesn’t allow you to acquire.

Be organised and plan your time realistically. Internships are opportunities for your development and should not become overwhelming. If you find that you are struggling to manage other work commitments and your internship, discuss it with your supervisor. The PATCH internships are usually over a 5 day period before Covid 2020 these 5 days were consecutive – this year things have been slightly different, which has made it less intense for supervisors and interns alike. Your supervisor will only provide you with work that fits comfortably into the timeframe available so if you start to spend too much time on things revisit your work plan, consider your progress and discuss any concerns with your supervisor.

Evaluate your progress – before, during and after the internship. What have you learnt? What went well? What did you miss doing? What would you do differently? How has the internship changed your approach to work/managing your time? Has it opened your eyes to different career opportunities? You can keep a journal to record your thoughts, aiding your reflections and providing something to refer back to in future months.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for Professional Pathways?

Professional Pathways gives you an insight into how industry works, what jobs are really like and the knowledge and skills you need to work in that sector. It provides an opportunity to sample a sector that you might be interested in joining post-university, as well as creating material for your evolving CV. Competition for internships is high, so make sure you carefully consider which internship(s) to apply for. Look at internships that relate to your studies, experience or career aspirations. Spend time fine-tuning your application; point by point reference the skills and knowledge the host organisation is looking for. Be explicit in your answers and give concrete examples of where you have experience, skills and knowledge – don’t hide your light under a bushel.

And if you get your chosen internship this can be the start of a longer-term relationship with your supervisor, who can become a mentor and guide as you navigate your career. These internships provide an amazing opportunity for your development – don’t miss out!


Employer Case Study – intoBodmin CIC

“Both interns had a real passion for what we were doing and subsequently felt that passion transferred into their own projects.”

Please outline the project your intern(s) worked on during their Pathways internship. How did the work they produced, benefit your organisation and/or the local community?

We had two interns who both joined me online to discuss our current Covid response activities and to talk about possible other projects. Both interns had been recruited for their experience in delivering projects but also their understanding of our organisation and the ambitions that they talked about during their interview. One intern worked with a current collaborator on a community engagement project as well as thinking about a new youth programme (based on her previous experience), while the other worked with our marketing manager to promote a patchwork project while creating a digital engagement project that looked at building on our Repair Room that had folded due to the restrictions. The two existing projects received valuable assistance and were able to expand their reach, while the new projects developed were developed and in one case implemented with a legacy that ran until October and the other was developed further after she left and has since been funded and started this month. Both interns had a real passion for what we were doing and subsequently felt that passion transferred into their own projects. The #FixItFridays had some good engagement and were a good way of demonstrating an additional service to what we would usually look to deliver. The youth project work was really valuable and we were able to draw on some excellent experiences for her hometown. We have now set up the Bodmin Youth Board, which met for the first time in October and will hopefully go on to be a key project for our organisation.

What tips and advice do you have for making the most out of a remote working internship?

Remote working isn’t always easy, particularly when you don’t know the people or company you’re working with. Therefore, to make the most of the opportunity, you need to make sure you ask for the things you need – be that information, introductions, support or advice. A short internship like this could be some additional capacity to current staff, in which case, make sure you fully understand what is being asked at the beginning, so you can get on with your tasks and not take up too much time from that limited capacity. You may also need to use your initiative, which while something I’d always encourage, I’d recommend making that clear at the outset – is it ok or should I get the ok at every turn. On the other hand, you may be asked to take the lead on an idea or task – you’ll have been chosen for this role because you demonstrated that ability in your interview – therefore, always take the initiative. Once you’re clear on the parameters and objectives, its up to you to fulfil that role. Remember, you might only be with this employer for 35hrs but if you make a good impression, they might ask you back, or offer you a reference. So the short answer is, make sure you know the role and what is expected of you and ask all the questions you need to. Then work hard, be creative and enjoy the experience.

Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?

It is easy to think that a short internship like these might end up taking more time than it’s worth and that you’ll end up using the capacity you’re trying to save in supporting a new role. This wasn’t my experience and by creating a job description, then conducting interviews, I was confident that the interns I had recruited were capable of running with the tasks given. Both interns we had came with new ideas, a youthful perspective and were perfectly competent. As with many things, you get out what you put in, so if you advertise for a marketing assistant and they spend their whole time proofreading copy, then that won’t be as fulfilling for them and probably for you – if however, you use the opportunity for them to create and plan out an audience engagement campaign that attracts a new youth audience, and give them the resources they need, then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Employer Case Study – Generation Brands

“The analysis that the interns conducted was really useful to filter out markets that we shouldn’t spend time on and those we should.”

How did recruiting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your company?

Professional Pathways came at a time we were looking to start expanding our market reach and also to look at exporting in general. The analysis that the interns conducted was really useful to filter out markets that we shouldn’t spend time on and those we should. On the ones that we should, they conducted further analysis on the procedures and compliance that would need to be carried out at a later date. Their independent and objective view from outside of the company was important because as we all know we can all be too involved in our businesses to make the right decision. Their reports enabled us to make quick decisions on what would otherwise have taken us a long time to achieve.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for Professional Pathways?

Do it! We had to operate remotely during the pandemic and so it didn’t have that hands-on approach that we would normally look to have, however, making the connections with businesses is vitally important at this stage in your career. Do lots of research on the company beforehand and clearly understand the objectives that are being sought. the information you are gathering will be taken very seriously by the employer and the time you take should look to answer their question exactly. Don’t go off on a tangent and answer a different question. The businesses that you will work for will know their business inside and out and they will have a clear idea of what they are looking for. Ask questions to clarify any issues you have so that you do exactly what the employer is looking for. Even if it isn’t the exact fit that you would have liked, at least you now know it isn’t something for you!

Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?

We would highly recommend Professional Pathways. We had a very good experience with our interns and they clearly worked hard on their given roles. It was important to work that they carried out and we have used the reports for many months after the internship finished. It is really important to keep them focused and meet with them on a daily basis to ensure that they are working in the right direction for what you are looking to achieve from them. There is obviously the cost-benefit of using the interns, but we found that they were enthusiastic and really willing to help. They came up with ideas that we had previously not thought of and it was a very rewarding experience.

Employer Case Study – Devon Community Foundation (DCF)

“Our Pathways interns have contributed greatly to our ability to conduct research.”

Devon Community Foundation is a charitable foundation, making grants to community organisations across Devon, as well as engaging in other community development partnerships. We are a small team, with limited resources, and have recruited interns from the Professional Pathways programme for the last three years. We are always limited in our activities by our capacity, and our Pathways interns have contributed greatly to our ability to conduct research. This was especially true this year, as our team has been flat out since April, processing emergency funding to organisations responding to the pandemic across the county. We had planned to spend some time over the summer reviewing the way in which we ask funded organisations to report back to us on the difference in the money made to the communities they work in. However, given the changed circumstances it was looking as if we’d have to put the bulk of that long-awaited work on hold.

Fortunately, we were able to reconfigure one important piece of pilot work as a project suitable for remote working and offered it as a placement through the scheme. We wanted an intern who could pilot telephone calls with grant holders as an alternative to them completing evaluation forms. We wanted to know whether this was feasible in terms of workload, whether it yielded useful feedback for us, whether grant holders would appreciate this opportunity to chat with someone about their work in the community, rather than write about it on a form, and if they would, what questions were the best to ask them. We knew we’d need an intern who was confident talking on the phone to people, especially as they’d have to do this work from home rather than from the office.

Luckily for us, our intern was more than capable of taking this on. She worked very effectively remotely, and was able to speak to a whole range of grant holders about their funding and the difference it had made to their work. The response was overwhelmingly that grant holders enjoyed the opportunity to chat with someone about their work, and how Devon Community Foundation’s grant had helped it move forward. For the Foundation, we got far more frank and detailed feedback than is usually evident on a form. and people were more prepared to talk through any challenges or unanticipated outcomes they experienced, as they were less worried that any admission of problems would lead to them being ‘marked down’. We learned a lot of valuable information that will help inform our grantmaking in the future, and the conversation was an important opportunity for the grant holders to reflect on what they had learned, and what they might do differently next time around.

Our intern also trialled and refined our list of topics to cover during these conversations, and her experience allowed us to judge what level of resource would be required to conduct these conversations in future and whether the role was suitable for a trained volunteer. As a result, with robust evidence that this is both feasible and effective, we’re planning to integrate telephone evaluation conversations into our new grant-making processes. Given the Covid situation, we’d never have been in a position to do that from an informed standpoint without the work of our intern.

While our intern was working with us, she wrote a short blog on her experience, and a longer piece reflecting on what she had learned from the conversations.

Student Blog Post – Educational Visit Programmer

“The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out.”

Please briefly outline the project/tasks/responsibilities you worked on during your Professional Pathways internship.

During my Professional Pathways internship at Powderham Castle, my job title was Educational Visit Programmer, and my main role was to work on a project to create a teacher pack for a new school class visit to Powderham. This involved extensive research on both the history of Powderham, including visiting and touring the castle and the educational programming area of the heritage sector in order to know what to include in the document. I had to make sure that my proposed school visit supported the National Curriculum, had cross-curricular activities, and of course, was inspired by and originated from Powderham Castle’s history. Overall, it allowed me to be creative in the production of the final document and thinking up the activities and use my written communication, IT, and research skills extensively.

How has the Professional Pathways programme helped you in taking the next steps in your career?

The Professional Pathways programme was really useful as it helped me confirm my decision to pursue a career in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector. The training days were an amazing introduction to the different areas of the sector, such as educational programming, marketing, commercialisation etc and really showed me how diverse and interesting the sector is. The internship itself at Powderham Castle also opened my eyes to the reality of working for a heritage organisation and the experience I have gained will certainly boost my CV and help me stand out in the future.

How do you think this experience will impact on your employability as you enter the job market as a recent graduate?

The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out, and I know having my internship at Powderham Castle to look back on and refer to going forward will definitely stand me in good stead for my future career! Furthermore, I feel I developed a good relationship with my line manager and so I hope this networking and connection will also help my employability as I now have a contact in the sector who may think of me for roles in the future.

What advice would you give to a student who has to complete an internship remotely?

I would say that maintaining regular contact with your line manager is a must in order to stay motivated and to check you are working as they want you to – during my internship we had a WhatsApp chat which was really useful as it meant I could get replies to my messages quicker than if I was to send an email, and we also did a few zoom meetings to chat more extensively. There were two other pathways students also doing the Powderham Castle internship, so we also had a group chat together to discuss how we were getting on with our work and ask each other any questions which also helped to not feel as isolated and more like a team!

Student Blog Post – Distributor Manager

“It was amazing for me to be able to see the tangible impact of my work.”

Please briefly outline the project/tasks/responsibilities you worked on during your Professional Pathways internship.

During my Pathways internship, I worked as a Distributor Manager for Martec International. My role involved reaching out to potential overseas clients and starting a dialogue with regards to a partnership in selling Martec online learning products. I was able to reach out to individuals from a number of companies and my initial conversation with one individual has led to a growing partnership with Future Sharp, a subsidiary of one of the largest retail companies in India.

What achievement(s) were you particularly proud of during your Pathways internship?

Initially, I contacted potential clients via email, and this yielded little response. I then had the initiative to try contacting people through LinkedIn, which resulted in much higher engagement and lead to the creation of Martec International’s partnership with Future Sharp, a subsidiary of one of the largest retail companies in India. It was amazing for me to be able to see the tangible impact of my work whilst working for Martec International.

Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, what advice would you give to other students to ensure they gain as much as possible from the experience?

It is really important to work with your manager to make the most of your limited time with the company. In my case, I decided to work part-time in order to have more time for clients to respond to my requests. This worked so well that Martec International kept me on for another 3 weeks to see the project through to a desirable endpoint. Ultimately it is important to try and provide as much value as you can to your company using the skills you have developed both in your degree and your pathways training. This will allow you to have the biggest impact and also help you to get the most out of the work you are doing.