Over the past three months we have been hearing from the students who are currently working for the University as part of the InternPlus Programme. Now coming to the end of her 12 week internship with the Postgraduate School, Chiara tells us a bit about what her project involved, her key take-aways, the challenges and the learning gains.
You know how most interning roles are associated with making coffee for your boss and copies of endless documents that no one really needs?
Well, good news: now that my internship experience at the University of Aberdeen came to end, I can tell you I have been doing anything but that!
My name is Chiara and I am final year undergraduate in Business Management and Sociology. As part of the Intern+ Programme at the University of Aberdeen, I started to intern for the School for Postgraduate Studies in January 2021. I worked on developing a framework for a Peer Support Scheme for all postgraduate (PG) students at the University. The project included three main phases:
- Phase 1: Conducting benchmarking analysis to understand what types of peer support other universities offer to PG students, and secondary and primary research to collect Aberdeen students’ thoughts on their university experience.
- Phase 2: Creating a framework for a Peer Support Scheme based on the data collected in Phase 1. Here, with the help of my managers, I designed a framework which illustrates how the Scheme would work, how students can apply to take part in it and what are the activities they can expect to get involved with during the Peer Support Scheme.
- Phase 3: Developing a marketing strategy to effectively market the Scheme and bring it to the student community. The marketing strategy entailed defining a timeline to bring the final product (the Peer Support Scheme) to the target market (postgraduate students) and deciding what channels to use to effectively do so.
What I enjoyed the most about the internship is that for the past three months no work day was the same. My role entailed interacting with a wide range of stakeholders at the University. From students to interns working on other projects, to staff members across different departments such as IT, Staff Development, Legal, and Marketing and Communication. These interdisciplinary interactions made working remotely much more dynamic and engaging than I could have ever imagined.
While at first I wished I could work from the office, working remotely turned out to be an amazing learning opportunity. Working from home meant that all interactions took place via email and Microsoft Teams. This way I had the opportunity to learn how to interact professionally across different online interfaces and how to conduct myself in the online environment. Whether we like it or not, remote work is here to stay so I recommend embracing it along with all the technologies that make it possible. One of them is MS Teams. Although I was already familiar with it as a student, having access to the platform as a member of staff meant I could access and benefit from many more functions. Beyond MS Teams, I discovered all the applications included in Microsoft Office, like Microsoft Forms and SharePoint, and how to use Power Automate to synchronize and automate activities among Microsoft Office Applications.
Beyond improving my IT skills, I feel I developed other key transferrable skills that will serve me well in my future work experiences. Working on a project from its ideation to development and implementation allowed me to develop project management skills. Being responsible for the entire project and its outcome is a lot of responsibility and I cannot hide that I felt under pressure at times. Nevertheless, being trusted with so much responsibility was empowering, and the constant support that I received from my two line managers really helped me to make the most out of such a responsibility.
Managing relationships with, and inputs from, multiple stakeholders provided me with the opportunity to develop multi-tasking skills while also teaching me to prioritize and manage my time smartly depending on the weekly tasks and goals.
One of the highlights of the internship was having the possibility to participate in the Equality and Diversity Impact Assessment meeting. Did you know that every new University project and initiative has to go through the so-called Impact Assessment? This is an evaluation allowing staff to consider all the potential risks – if any – associated with the project and to make sure that those risks are minimised while increasing the benefits of the projects for both students and staff. This is only one of the many examples I could give you that allowed me to gain invaluable exposure to the activities of a wide organisation such as the University of Aberdeen. As a Business Management student this was a real-world internship experience!
Overall this internship has been a rollercoaster of new tasks, challenges, and responsibilities that I faced with curiosity, enthusiasm and willingness to learn. If you are a student looking for a rewarding internship experience where your work is valued and your ideas listened to, then I recommend you apply for Intern+. There is a wide variety of projects from which I am sure you will find the one that best fits your passions and aspirations!
I hope you found this blog useful! If you have any questions or would like to know more about Intern+, I am happy to help as much as I can! Feel free to reach out to me via email or add me on LinkedIn.