School for Social Entrepreneurs Cornwall- Student Case Study

Cornwall School for Social Entrepreneurs Internship

Understandably, many of us only have negative connotations of 2020. It has become the year of devastation, cancellations, and unprecedented times. However, what could have been the most depressing summer of my life turned into a time filled with new experiences as a result of my internship with the Cornwall School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Tell us about yourself. 

I was an English student in my third and final year at the University of Exeter, and I was overwhelmed by the breadth and scale of potential jobs available to me. Whilst teaching, writing, and publishing are the obvious outcomes for an English graduate, I knew that there were other organisations and sectors in which my skillset could prove useful. Moreover, I hope to stay in the South West, so it was vital for me to find out what kind of jobs were available in the Devon and Cornwall area. I found the Career Zone to be incredibly useful as there were more jobs of interest to me than I could have imagined; just knowing that creative organisations existed in the South West was enough for me and it gave me hope that I would find a career.

What did your Internship consist of?

I decided that the best way to get a sense of some of this work going on in Cornwall would be through an internship. Hence, my application for a marketing internship at SSE Cornwall. The 6-week internship (later extended to 7 weeks) began in June, just after I had finished my degree. It could not have been timed more perfectly as I was ready for something new. Initially a role based around the creation of the booklet needed for an upcoming SSE student graduation ceremony, the position quickly developed, and I found myself undertaking other administrative responsibilities. I had to deal with a range of people running a variety of fantastic organisations on a day-to-day basis; I put together newsletters and spreadsheets; and I joined in on a few classes (via zoom!) so that I could get a sense of the work that goes on at SSE.

It was truly inspiring to speak to the current cohort and learn about how their ideas had grown into fully fledged enterprises with a social purpose and meaning. It made me proud and excited to live in Cornwall and introduced me to a wonderful sector – and community – that I otherwise would not have encountered.

After the chaos and uncertainty of this year, it was important that we highlighted the adaptations and changes that these people – and their businesses – had undergone; we included statements from each student in the booklet about how the pandemic had affected their enterprise and I went on to write a blog that captured some of these businesses and the hardships they had faced. It was a very proud moment to see my writing on the SSE website and made me really feel as though I had become part of the team.

Did you enjoy your internship, what did you learn?

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at SSE Cornwall and believe that it has made me a more well-rounded and adaptable employee. I have truly learnt the meaning of “making the best of a bad situation”, as I have seen first-hand how small business owners have had to adjust and triumph in the face of adversity. Moreover, SSE themselves – and the fantastic team – had to move all their teaching and resources online and have remained just as successful and engaging as ever, even introducing a new Women’s Enterprise programme despite the pandemic.

I learnt how to engage with a range of people (remotely of course!); I listened to emotive stories with empathy and discussed vulnerable topics with understanding; I thought creatively in a time of crisis; and – perhaps most importantly – I had to discipline myself and generate a home-work routine that was efficient and successful. I am confident that all the skills above will contribute to making my job search that bit easier in the future.

Would you recommend doing an internship, and why?

I cannot recommend doing an internship enough. It gave me fantastic insight that I just would not have been able to experience otherwise, and it taught me that the most sufficient means of learning is through doing, meeting people, and thinking creatively. Internships are ideal as you can work with a deadline in mind. Whether you discover that you hate the industry and want to move on to something else, or you find that you have found the job for you and thus know how long you have to make the most of the opportunity, 4-6 week internships are a fantastic investment of your time and energy. You can build a network of contacts and make connections that can lead to future employment. Moreover, you will stand out to employers as you have gone the extra mile to learn about the various employment options available to you.