Tag Archives: #professionalpathways2022

Student Blog Post: Exeter City Community Trust

Student Name: Ella

Pathway Programme: Pathways to Charity and Development

Internship Role: Charity Development Assistant

Internship Employer: Exeter City Community Trust

As a Sociology student in my final year, the thought of deciding what I want to do for a career was a daunting one! With so many different options and possibilities, I felt quite overwhelmed and unsure (and I know a lot of other students tend to feel the same!) I decided to apply for the University’s Professional Pathways internship programme, in the hopes of getting some experience and a clearer idea of what kind of job I might like to do in the future. There were 4 different sectors to choose from: I applied to the ‘Pathways to Charity and Development’.

For me, working in the Charity sector was an interesting prospect (and it seemed to link in well with my personal and academic interests), but I didn’t know much about it, and I wasn’t sure what types of jobs were available to me within the Charity sector. After applying to Professional Pathways, and being successful in the Assessment Centre, I secured a place on the scheme and was invited to attend a series of employer-led training sessions. Speakers from both local and national charities came in to discuss various topics (such as charity funding and fundraising, communications, volunteer management, and humanitarianism). The training week culminated in group presentations to a panel of employers, in response to different project briefs set by local charities. My group’s brief asked us to review, evaluate, and provide recommendations for Exeter City Community Trust’s social media channels. We were then rewarded with pizza, as well as a chance to network with employers!

After the training, I began my paid 35-hour internship. I was matched with Exeter City Community Trust (ECCT), as a Charity Development Assistant. During this internship, I have had the opportunity to learn about all the different roles within ECCT, as well as the programmes and activities that they offer for the community (focussing on sports, education, and wellbeing). A highlight for me so far has been helping with the “social café”, which was set up during COVID to combat loneliness. ECCT’s social cafe is a place where people can go, once a week, to have a cup of tea and chat with others. From talking to some of the regular attendees, it was clear how important this was to their own wellbeing! It seemed like a real lifeline for older generations, and it was amazing to see that it has made such a difference.

In terms of how my involvement in Pathways to Charity and Development has helped me in my career journey so far, I’ve gained valuable insight into what it might be like to work in the Charity sector. It’s also confirmed that this is a career I would love to go into; specifically, a role that centres around improving the wellbeing of communities. Looking ahead to finishing my internship with Exeter City Community Trust, I cannot wait to see what my next career steps are, and I’m excited to take what I have learnt from the Professional Pathways programme forward into life as an Exeter graduate.

Pathways to Charities & International Development is one of 4 sector specific training courses offered which make up the Professional Pathways programme, hosted by the central careers service. Employers can get involved by offering a 1 hr training session, providing a business project for students to work on in the training or hosting a funded 35 hr internship.

Student Case Study: Farms for City Children

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Student Name: Megan Green

Pathway Programme: Pathways to Charity and Development

Internship Role: Social Media Analyst

Internship Employer: Farms for City Children

What went well in your internship and/or what was your biggest achievement?

I produced a report providing an analysis of the charity’s current social media channels, an evaluation of TikTok as a future platform for the charity, profiles of potential ambassadors and recommendations for future strategy. By analysing engagement on social media, I also compiled a database of ex-beneficiaries.

What did not go so well in your internship? How did you overcome any challenges faced and what would you do differently in the future?

As the internship was remote, I found it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. I tried to break up my day by going for walks etc and was fortunate to have daily check-ins on Teams with members of staff. It was useful to discuss the prevalence of remote work in the charity sector with members of staff and is something I will keep in mind when choosing a graduate career.
Having completed your Pathways internship, has anything come out of you completing the role?
My supervisor Susie Mann said I’d be welcome to carry out more work experience with Farms for City Children on a voluntary basis if I choose to in future. She also offered to provide me with a reference.
Your message to other students considering applying to Professional Pathways in the future?
“The Professional Pathways programme was really well organised and provided in-depth insight into working in different areas of Charity and Development. It allowed me to gain valuable paid work experience that can be difficult to find in this sector… thank you very much!”

Student Case Study: The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

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Student Name: Natasha Matsaert

Pathway Programme: Pathways to Charity and Development

Internship Role: Digital Communications Officer

Internship Employer: The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

What went well in your internship and/or what was your biggest achievement?

I really enjoyed my internship and got a good feeling for what a future career in digital communications might entail. I produced a report on email marketing (specifically engagement of welcome emails), wrote an update story on one of the horses, put together a TikTok video and created templates for social media posts.

What did not go so well in your internship? How did you overcome any challenges faced and what would you do differently in the future?

I had a few technical difficulties on my first day, which I was luckily able to resolve that evening. I think that I would have loved to go to the sanctuary in person too.

Having completed your Pathways internship, has anything come out of you completing the role?

I am staying involved doing some volunteering in communications for the sanctuary. I am planning on applying for a graduate role in the future.

Your message to other students considering applying to Professional Pathways in the future?

“Professional Pathways to Charity and Development has enabled me to gain invaluable experience which has allowed me to develop a better understanding of where I want to take my career. I was able to explore my passions, develop new skills, and make important connections within a charity of my choice and gain extensive knowledge of the charity sector through the pathways training provided. I am now staying involved with the charity that I have done my internship with and can’t wait to see what the future holds!”

Student Case Study: Mayes Creative Ltd.

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Name of Student: Jana Frindtová

Pathway Programme: Pathways to Arts, Culture & Heritage

Internship Role: Arts & Heritage Research Assistant

Internship Employer: Mayes Creative Ltd.

What went well in your internship and/or what was your biggest achievement?

I produced a plan for an Instagram campaign propagating a certain programme for Mayes and I created material for the plan. I came up with a slogan that was well received in the company and tried to link my campaign plan with the demands of the Arts Council for funding.

I loved the ability that the company gave me to have a meeting dedicated to me asking questions on a particular subject which I found incredibly helpful. I also loved the open way the team talked to us about the job and the generosity they have shown us both in providing advice and opportunities for growth and independence.

Overall the best part of the experience was the opportunity to get to know the very talented ladies at the company and enjoy their eagerness to teach and show us the ropes. Working on the project with them has been a true privilege and great fun.

What did not go so well in your internship? How did you overcome any challenges faced and what would you do differently in the future?

After creating several pieces of material for the campaign, my boss raised the question of accessibility and I had to rework some of the designs. In the future this is something I want to keep at the forefront of my mind.

I would also like to be more proactive in contacting potential partners and taking a prerogative in some of my ideas so I can present them in a more informed way.

Your message to other students considering applying to Professional Pathways in the future?

“The Pathways programme effectively provided an induction into my field and left me feeling confident in entering it. I have already completed a job interview where I was invited due to my Pathways experience and I was able to talk about the current challenges of the sector with the employer in a way that I would not be able to otherwise”.

Student Blog Post- CLES Research and Teaching Labs Intern

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“The Professional Pathways programme has really enhanced my confidence”

Name: Lucy Lewis

Pathway Programme: Pathways to Scientific Laboratories

Internship Role: CLES Research and Teaching Labs Intern

Internship Employer: University of Exeter

What projects, tasks, or responsibilities did you work on during your Professional Pathways internship?

During the internship in the CLES labs, I learnt about the daily running of the research and teaching labs. While I was there, alongside learning how the labs operated, I was also shown how safety and cleanliness was maintained and helped with cleaning lab equipment, emptying hazardous waste bins, making pH and TAE buffers, replacing liquid nitrogen, repairing microscopes, assisting in the fish labs and was shown how to operate and calibrate the genetic analysis machine. I also helped to make agarose gel for a gel electrophoresis practical, where I assisted A-level students with a DNA identification practical. I also assisted Year 8 students with identifying microplastics in the lab, demonstrating basic lab safety and PPE instructions.

On my last day, I joined the Environment and Sustainability Institute, helping with the research on the properties of snail mucus and its impact on leaf re-growth, by assisting with punching holes in cabbage leaves and applying the mucus for further analysis. Reading relevant papers prior to this was also completed to understand the overall topic.

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

The Professional Pathways programme has really enhanced my confidence and helped me to make a clearer decision on my career path after I graduate. During the training, I had the chance to network and expand my knowledge in the science and technician sector by speaking to other students and lecturers at the lab technician conference in Exeter. I also got the chance to visit the University’s laboratories and a veterinary lab in Starcross to gain understanding in how they operate and to explore the diverse roles involved.
Networking and building an understanding on the different roles available throughout the University and other labs has really given me a clearer understanding on what skills and experience is needed for my next steps. My role during the internship allowed me to see the different career paths I can take, especially with the graduate roles and what these would entail, along with finding the support received from members of staff to be really encouraging. Being someone who is interested in working in a laboratory setting, I can now confidently say that I will take the experience I have gained with me and apply this to future work.
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?
During my week internship, I was based in the CLES labs, where I was given something different to do each day. My advice would be to take each opportunity you can to ask questions and to get involved with as many activities as possible. My week consisted of helping in a variety of settings, such as the teaching labs where I was involved with scientific practicals, to helping to prepare and maintain lab cleanliness, being shown how to calibrate and use machinery, assisting in the fish labs and helping with research in the ESI. By getting yourself involved with these activities, it really helps to build your confidence and gain insight from the week, so I would recommend to make the most of the hours and to use it as an opportunity to explore what you enjoy!

Employer Case Study- Prostate Cancer UK

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“I would wholeheartedly recommend that employers get involved with Professional Pathways”

Line Manager Name: Jack Watts

Job Title: Direct Marketing Executive

How was your experience of hosting a Pathways intern?

Ellie was able to join us in the office on each day of her internship and met a range of colleagues from across the charity, either face to face or by video call. We purposefully scheduled her work days around when others would be in the office and on one day we had a scheduled Team Day where Ellie was able to meet the wider team and join us for lunch. We agreed to spread Ellie’s five working days over two weeks which gave me time to arrange her workload in between her work days and to review any work she had done before she started her next working day. Overall, we found that it worked really well and I know Ellie appreciated the flexibility we offered around when she could start and finish, as well as having the option to work from home if she needed.

Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, how would you recommend ensuring both you and your intern(s) gain as much as possible from the experience?

I’ve managed several Professional Pathways roles now, from different programmes and at different organisations. I’ve learnt that it’s really important to get the balance right between ensuring the experience is valuable for the student and that the outputs are useful for the employer. This can be a difficult balance to strike and weighting the internship too far in one direction or another will mean one of you may not get what you need from the experience.

To help both Ellie and myself meet our objectives, I made sure to manage expectations from the beginning of the internship. I had a quick call with Ellie before the internship began to find out what she was hoping to get from the experience and what areas of work she was most interested in, and I also explained we would have to balance work she found the most interesting with tasks that were high priority. Ellie completely understood this and we checked in regularly throughout the internship to make sure we were getting the balance right.

I think it’s easy to underestimate what students may get from certain tasks; things that are ‘business as usual’ to you and your colleagues may be more interesting to a student who has never done anything like it before.

Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?
I would wholeheartedly recommend that employers get involved with Professional Pathways. The programme always produces excellent students who are eager to get stuck in and bring a fresh perspective to any task. The Careers Team make the whole experience painless for the employer and take care of the entire recruitment, shortlisting, and matching process.
Students are always keen to learn as much as they can whilst offering their valuable skills and experience to the benefit of your organisation. If managed well, interns provide you with added capacity, allowing you to either delegate some business as usual work to free up your own time or assign a nice-to-have project to someone with fresh eyes and plenty of time.
There are multiple ways to engage with Professional Pathways and when these are done in combination, the benefits can be multiplied. We provided a group project for students on the Charity and Development Pathway which meant our intern had already become familiar with our organisation and our work, which helped her hit the ground running during her internship.

Employer Case Study- Vapormatt

Image preview“The project our intern worked on could help influence the development of systems like the Tiger+ surface finishing system”

“Professional Pathways was a great way to get the information we needed for future product development”

Line Manager Name: Miles Pluckwell

Job Title: Marketing Manager

How did hosting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your organisation?

We target a number of industries globally. Knowing the current and projected future size of these of these industries, along with other key information, is critical our decision making process. Our Professional Pathways intern found and presented this information.

How was your experience of hosting a Pathways intern?

Making use of Microsoft Teams we were able to host our intern remotely, which worked very well for us. Having provided a detailed project brief we were able to let the intern work when and where they wanted to. We set up weekly Teams meetings to ensure the project was on track and to help with any difficult elements to the project.
Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, how would you recommend ensuring both you and your intern(s) gain as much as possible from the experience?
We provided a detailed brief with details on where to possibly look for the information needed to complete the project. We went through the brief and covered any questions in a kick off Teams meeting as well as explaining who we are and what we do.
Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?
For us it was a great way to get the information we needed for future product development, marketing campaigns, etc., without spending any of our limited marketing budget.
What advice would you give to a student considering applying for Professional Pathways?
Try to make sure you pick a project that you are enthusiastic about and once underway make sure you ask questions whenever you need to and alert the employer immediately if there’s a part of the project you think is going to be impossible for you to complete. Completing a good high quality project is a win win for employer and intern.

Employer Case Study- Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF)

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“The research and skillset these students have might be something other charities need, so I highly recommend employing an intern”

Line Manager Name: Laura Barnes

Job Title: Marketing, Communications and PR Officer

How did hosting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your organisation?

Cornwall VSF was gearing up for a sector-leading event, to introduce the VCSE to the new Integrated Care System. Having an intern gave us support to design a feedback system to gather as much information as possible. We used their impressive R&D skills to help us with this. We use the feedback gathered by the survey co-created with our intern to shape our future event offer. This will benefit charities and VCSE organisations in Cornwall, and in turn will benefit communities.

How was your experience of hosting a Pathways intern?

We are currently a remote organisation. Our intern rose to this challenge well. She attended our face-to-face event for 8 hours and took some amazing photos for us. We then arranged some face-to-face meeting to check she felt supported.

Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, how would you recommend ensuring both you and your intern(s) gain as much as possible from the experience?

I recommend designing or co-designing a plan to ensure the intern knows what’s expected of them. I had a call with our intern, to learn about their strengths and preferences, to design a project that is mutually beneficial.

Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?

Absolutely. The research and skillset these students have might be something other charities need, so I highly recommend employing an intern. It’s fantastic news that the interns are paid for their experience, opening this up to be as inclusive as possible.

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

Have an initial call with the employer to ask for a robust project plan, which helps to design your hours well, and make the best use of your time. Don’t be afraid to challenge people and offer your viewpoint. You are skilled.

Employer Case Study- Martec International Ltd

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“Professional Pathways is a great way to get real world experience to complement an academic education”

Line Manager Name: Brian Hume

Job Title: Managing Director

How did hosting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your organisation?

We sell e-learning education to retailers, consumer goods companies and their suppliers all over the world. We have waited a long time to have the capacity to develop a detailed analysis of our pricing strategy and pricing levels verses key competition in our main markets – the US, Middle east and India. The intern project gave us the opportunity to get a significant piece of it done and we were fortunate to get Freya.

There were several key findings:
1. Competitors who offer thousands of classes including some retail ones, generally offer training products written by individuals rather than training companies. They have processes to follow their technical needs but do not have quality control processes for the content in the classes. We do. We need to bring this out appropriately in our marketing.
2. Prices were not very different from ours when the competitors were not on sale. However, some of them are on sale more than 50% of the time and the discounts are very deep. Hence our base prices are not an issue, but we do have to have a better promotional response.
3. We asked our Freya to review some sample competitor courses and her results caused us to do a few more. We now understand that we can charge a premium over competitors’ prices because of our quality, but our current premium may be too high when competitors are on sale.
4. We learned that our big competitors can offer individual classes, but they can’t offer an organised curriculum, for those who want to study a complete and structurally sound learning path over time, to help them in their career development. This is now a major focus area on our soon to be released new web site.
5. Freya examined the way our competitors do their pricing and made some very good suggestions for improving our approach, that we had not previously considered.

How was your experience of hosting a Pathways intern?

Our intern worked remotely, as we all do in Martec. We no longer have an office. This worked well on the project because:
– we invited Freya to a meet the team meeting online using Microsoft Teams a couple of weeks before the project started. We also gave her a short briefing so she knew what the detailed project would be and her role in it.
– we had regular meetings every day or two, again using teams to discuss issues and findings
– and we made it clear to Freya that she could ask us any questions at any time, either by email, phone or by suggesting a Teams meeting whenever necessary. The end result of this is that we had a high level of person-to-person communication.
– I think it is fair to say that we all had a good, relaxed working relationship.
Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, how would you recommend ensuring both you and your intern(s) gain as much as possible from the experience?

The first thing is to define a scope of work and plan, where it is realistic to have a valuable deliverable or two within the time available. Then you need to brief the intern and assure them that you have realistic expectations of what they can accomplish in the time they have. As part of the briefing, give them a draft work plan and the freedom to change it as they learn some things you don’t currently know. You can measure early progress against the original plan and then change it based on feedback as you progress.

We asked Freya to email us summaries of key steps which we could read and review as a group and then give more or updated direction. We reviewed the feedback as Freya produced it, so she could clarify anything or do a bit more on researching specific queries.

In making the plan, it is important not to give them tasks that require too much administrative work, such as producing nice slides, as this detracts from a big percentage of the 35 hours. We assigned a colleague to take on admin that our intern could avoid. As the company, you gain most by maximizing the use of the intern’s brainpower.

Why would you recommend Professional Pathways to other employers?

Yes I would. You need to pick a project that is important to you, so your staff take it seriously and are keen for the intern to succeed. You need to plan it in advance and make sure the scope is realistic. I prefer to have the work spread over two weeks as your intern can sleep on things and wake up with other thoughts that are important. Also, they don’t know your business like you do, so they ask questions your staff might not ask, so you do get fresh thinking, which is surprisingly helpful and happens when you were not expecting it. You do have to dedicate some senior person’s time on the project, to make sure that the intern is not delayed by colleagues who have other goals to achieve. Colleagues don’t do this on purpose, but they are not counting down the 35 hours, so it can happen unconsciously.

To be blunt, if you have the right project, can scope it appropriately and provide the right support, you would be dumb not to take advantage of it.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for Professional Pathways?
This is a great way to get real world experience to complement an academic education. If you can get a project working with a senior executive, you can get exposure to the real-world decision-making challenges that you face later in your career. Then you can see how other executives respond to the challenges. Look for companies that will value your feedback and integrate you into their team for the time you are engaged with them. Go for those that provide administrative backup, so you spend more time on the “brainwork”. Keep asking meaningful questions. Even if they don’t know the answers, they will respect people that probe. If they don’t, you know not to apply to them for a job.

 

Employer Case Study- University of Exeter Environment and Climate Emergency Team

“Professional Pathways is a great way of getting a student’s perspective and some fresh ideas to help with research”

Line Manager: Victoria Patch

Job Title: Communication and Engagement Lead

How did hosting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your organisation?

I joined the University in May this year- and one of the priorities was (and still is) writing a Communication and Engagement Strategy for the Environment and Climate Emergency team. This is a huge task, as first of all I had to get my head round how the University works, the organisational structure and the processes. Having students assisting was amazing as they could help in one key area – communication and engagement with students. They gave me an insight into the student journey, from before they start through to the final year, and suggested key times when we should be thinking of including the sustainability message as part of the regular communication that goes out, e.g., the prospectus. They also suggested the best method of contacting students – OK – I knew social media was one of the main channels but it hadn’t occurred to me to send information to tutors to forward to students… apparently one email they are guaranteed to read. They analysed our current website, gave feedback (strengths and weaknesses) and researched public engagement with climate change – and both reports will feed into the strategy.

How was your experience of hosting a Pathways intern?

The interns worked partly in the office and partly independently. They got on well, so some days when not in the office they worked together, so could compare notes. I wrote a brief before they started, with four areas I wanted help with and asked them to choose two – that way they could choose which interested them the most. I talked to them both again before they started to discuss what work arrangements suited them best (hours, from home or in the office etc). They were invited to a team meeting the week before the internship on Teams -one of them came along and introduced herself to the team. If they had any queries, I asked them to contact me on Teams. I had a couple of catch ups with them during the week, but they were relatively independent and got on with the work. I looked at draft reports towards the end of the week and suggested amendments or further research. From my perspective it went well, and they both seemed happy.