by Natalie Wilson
I applied for my internship through the Graduate Champions scheme at De Montfort University (DMU) that helps find graduates paid experience related to their undergraduate study. When I was matched with Learning and Work Institute (L&W) I could not believe just how perfect the fit was; I felt instantly passionate about the organisations aim to improve access to skills, education and employment, and the job role was exactly what I wanted to gain experience in! After spending three years at university it felt vital to get some practical work experience to find out what I wanted to do. Although university has been a wonderful and varied experience, there is nothing like gaining insight into working for an organisation.
Prior to the internship I was considering continuing in academia however the experience has helped direct me onto the right path and I now want to work towards finding employment after my MA. Not only this, L&W has helped me build on my confidence through learning what a career in campaigns and communications looks like and giving me hands on experience.
While at L&W my focus has been working on their Festival of Learning awards which has led to me learning how to use and do new things including Thunderclaps, managing social media, holding a live TweetChat, writing for internal and external communications, learning how to use the CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) and various other databases, as well as creating blog content for the website. In my fourth week of the internship I travelled to London with my line manager to meet TV Science presenter, Greg Foot. This pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to learn how to utilise celebrities within campaigns – not a chance you get every day!
The best part of the whole experience has been working with motivated colleagues who care about their career and what they do; working as part of a team helps improve you as an individual, enables you to learn from others, and makes the whole experience even more enjoyable.
My time at L&W has helped me see where I want my future to go, what I need to do to get there, and how I can overcome personal difficulties to proceed forward. One of the areas that L&W focuses on is the disability gap in employment; in November 2016, the labour force survey published statistics stating that approximately 80 per cent of non-disabled people are in work, compared to just 48 per cent of disabled people. Having experience of living with a disability myself, I have gained interest into this aspect of the work the organisation does, while also being able to see what it is like to have a disability and be in employment. I have learnt that with the right support and accommodation, which L&W provided for me, this gap can decrease.
The internship has enabled me to gain skills, learn, and improve my employability, while working for an organisation that aims to do just that for others – by offering internships to DMU students, L&W is practicing what it preaches! I would honestly encourage anyone interested in working in the communications and campaigns field to gain experience working for a charity; you get to carry out the work you want to do for an organisation that makes a real difference.