Hiya, I’m Finja and I’m going into my third year of English and Philosophy soon. Around this time last year, I had decided I wanted to get a summer internship. If you’re like me the summer break feels way too long to be idle for all of it and I was looking to either get a job or get some work experience, ideally both in the form of a paid internship. As an international student I had the option to look for internships both in the UK and my home country, however, I didn’t like the prospect of having to organise temporary accommodation while also dealing with a new professional environment and not having any friends around. Thus, the Aberdeen Internship programme was a perfect fit for me as it meant I could stay in Aberdeen for the summer, and it is also one of the few paid internships around. The Aberdeen Internship programme is organised by the Careers and Employability Service and provides opportunities for 10-week paid internships across the University.
My desk space and the view out of my office.
The job advertisement of my project asked for someone ‘with a passion for storytelling’ which immediately caught my attention as I am an avid reader and writer, writing my own projects, as well as for the Journal of Matters Relating to Felines (or CatMag). The latter was actually what intrigued my interview panel the most, showing that you can and should include relevant hobbies in your CV. The application process was quite straight-forward. I had to send in a CV, a covering letter and references, got invited to an interview and two weeks later received and email that I had been offered the position. If you are nervous about the application process, don’t be! (But also, so was I.) There are great resources on the University’s website which among other things can help you with your interview preparation and with building an effective CV, covering letter, and LinkedIn profile. I had also participated in the University’s career mentoring scheme and my mentor has helped me immensely with becoming more confident and expressive in my applications.
I got the email confirming my internship position at the airport while waiting for my flight home and after checking about a thousand times that my eyes weren’t deceiving me, broke out into a little happy dance. I kept on breaking out in little happy dances in my seat during the flight, and the rest of the day – probably to the disconcertment of the other passengers. I was too happy to care. However, after the initial bliss, the inescapable worrying set in. What exactly was I going to be doing? (Note to myself and others: save job descriptions!) What if I overslept on the first day? And what on earth is business casual? Turns out, I did not need to worry at all. On our first day, all the interns were given an induction by the Careers and Employability Service team who alleviated our doubts and fears and answered all our questions. My office, the Development Trust & Alumni Relations office, gave a similarly warm welcome which I tried repaying by bringing in muffins the next week. Luckily, I did not get hired due to my superior baking skills as the taste of my muffins belied the feelings I meant to convey – how excited I was to work for and with the team, how comfortable I felt in the office and how nice everyone had been from the start, offering to include me in all office related activities. (Note to self and others: Don’t add flour and milk to you baking mix without measuring!) Though different offices have different professional environments, you’ll be able to learn quickly how your workplace manages things. For example, my office used first names for everyone, and the business casual dress code ranged from the more business to the more casual side.
Roseisle Beach where one of the LoveAtUoA videos was filmed.
In the first week of our internship, we were asked to work on a development plan in which we reflected on the skills we would be able to refine or gain during our internship. In order to complete it, I asked for my job description again and that’s why I am now able to tell you that my project was to organise, set up and populate a content bank. I created content, specifically donor impact stories and alumni blogs, but also videos and social media posts for the Development Trust & Alumni Relations channels and blogs. I was left to work on my projects independently with enough support so as to not feel overwhelmed by the new environment. This kind of trust as well as the encouragements that we were the people chosen for these positions for a reason really gave me the confidence to fully immerse myself in the tasks I was given. I gained valuable experience in many different areas that I would not have been able to gain in the same capacity without this opportunity.
Titles of stories I’ve worked on.
During my internship I was able to refine my creative skills by creating content according to a style guide and in accordance with the University’s brand. I was also able to improve my existing communication skills through networking and liaising with a range of different people in a professional environment. Additionally, working a full-time job and fulfilling my other responsibilities has definitely polished up my organisational skills. I was also able to gain some digital competencies by participating in our University’s content management system’s training and creating content for the office’s social media channels using software like Canva. I’ll be able to highlight all of these soft and hard skills on any future applications and evidence them with specific examples from my internship.
Cookies I made for my last day in the office; seagull watching me while I was having lunch; LoveAtUoA Instagram story.
Although I truly appreciate the skills I was able to gain, my favourite part of the internship was the interpersonal side of things. Helping at graduations and seeing the graduates and their families beaming and proud was a real highlight, and I also loved working on some incredible stories and liaising with students and alumni. This has even made me reconsider my career goals and I am now thinking about a career in content creation or journalism.
I’m incredibly grateful to have been offered this opportunity and would like to thank the Development Trust and Alumni Relations office for welcoming me into their team as well as the Careers and Employability Service for offering a range of opportunities like mine and supporting us all during our internships. I would encourage every undergraduate in their second, third (or second to last) year to consider applying to one of the Aberdeen Internships or similar placements. You won’t regret it!