Essex intern’s reflections

 In Blog

Blog post written by Ullash Das, University of Essex intern, ELBA’s Education team

My name is Ullash Das. I am a recent graduate from the University of Essex. For the last three months, myself and three other recent graduates from the University of Essex – Dola Oye-dada, Tomi Babson and Enna Uwaifo – have been interning at ELBA and The BIG Alliance as part of the Essex Interns scheme. Dola has been supporting ELBA’s Employment programmes, Enna has been supporting The BIG Alliance’s Community programmes, and Tomi and I have been supporting ELBA’s Education programmes. As the end of our internships is approaching, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on our experiences and discuss the things we have learned.

When asked why we (the interns) decided to apply for an internship at ELBA and The BIG Alliance, we all commented on our drive to pursue work which involved helping young people in education and employment and making a difference in local communities. Tomi, Education Project Coordinator, said:

“I applied for an internship at ELBA primarily because of my strong interest in community investment. I was pulled towards the opportunity to work within the Education team and work directly with university and sixth form students. I wanted to have an impact through the education events such as insight sessions, mock interviews and CV workshops to help raise young people’s career aspirations.”

During our time at ELBA and The BIG Alliance, we have been involved in several activities and events including: Guinness World Record for the Largest Employability Skills Lesson, London City Airport’s STEM in Aviation, Pinsent Masons’ Schools Debating Competition, Credit Suisse Mock Interviews, the Mentoring Works launches, Goal Setting at Standard Chartered, Parity’s Lunch and Learn at State Street, Toy Appeal and the second CORE programme with Macquarie and Slaughter and May.

The highlight of my time at ELBA has been delivering a presentation at a ‘UBS 100 day’. Speaking to a room of 50 people about my journey from education to employment seemed daunting, but the presentation went well and I learned that I am a confident public speaker.

When asked about their highlights, Dola, Tomi and Enna said:

Tomi: “The highlight of my experience at ELBA was being able to facilitate the mock interviews at Credit Suisse in which we had a record 107 students participate.”

Enna: “The highlight of my experience was being given the responsibility to coordinate the Time to Talk sessions, where business volunteers deliver mental health awareness sessions in schools across Islington.”

Dola: “The highlight of my internship was being able to get involved in some of the networking events ELBA, hosted at different companies that ELBA work with.”

Another important highlight was the opportunity to collaborate on delivering a presentation to ELBA colleagues about the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

When asked what skills we developed during our internships, we all stated that we developed our communication skills. This helped us improve our confidence in the workplace  and be adaptable to interacting with different people. Dola, Employment Project Coordinator, said:

“I have definitely gained a lot of confidence since I started the internship, especially in terms of knowing how to conduct myself in a professional environment. Before the internship, I felt intimidated by people who worked in these environments. However, now I feel that I have developed many skills from the internship that makes me feel well-equipped to work in these kinds of environments.”

The advice and guidance we have for students and recent graduates on how to prepare for the world of work are:

Tomi: “Spend as much time as you can to learn about the company, the role and their goals. This could be through getting involved in different activities and events and just show a willingness to learn and be enthusiastic!”

Enna: “Start your applications early, and only apply for the places you want to work, so it’s much easier to show your enthusiasm in your applications and in interviews.”

Dola: “Network with different people in the career path you want to pursue and gain insight into their experiences. This will help you gain an understanding of the roles in the career path you’d like to work in.”

Ullash: “Engage in as many extra-curricular activities as possible as it will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Employers don’t want to hire the same people with the same skill set,  they want diversity and adaptability from their workforce.”

A big thank you to ELBA and The BIG Alliance for all the opportunities they have provided us Essex interns over the last three months. The work has been varied, challenging and rewarding. From the beginning, we were encouraged to undertake a lot of responsibility and learn transferable skills which will benefit us beyond our internships. We believe ELBA and The BIG Alliance have equipped us for work in a professional environment and we feel excited to begin our career journeys. Though we will be leaving ELBA and The BIG Alliance, our experiences here will stay with us forever!

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