University: University of Stirling
Qualification: MSc Applied Social Research
Before gaining this opportunity, what was your experience of job-hunting?
In 2012 I graduated from the University of Stirling with a BA Honours in Sociology and Spanish, before returning to university to complete a master’s degree in Applied Social Research in 2013. I made a conscious decision to study part-time with the aim of getting real practical work experience whilst I studied. This was easier said than done, and for much of the first year of the course, I was working in retail.
For me the challenge wasn’t necessarily finding a job, it was finding a role that would build on the learning I was developing through university. I was looking for an opportunity to apply the research skills I was gaining as well as enhance my knowledge of social policy and social issues.
Job hunting was a frustrating process, it felt as though there was very little opportunity to get a foot in the door. I had the charity sector in my sights and to gain an insight into the sector I began volunteering at Edinburgh and Lothians Equality Council (ELREC) supporting a small research project. A valuable experience, however balancing volunteer work alongside studying and a part-time job was not without its challenges.
Fortunately, in 2014, I successfully applied for a paid internship through Adopt an intern, working as a research intern for Corra Foundation on an action research project, ‘Everyone Has a Story’.
What were your roles and responsibilities in this position?
‘Everyone has a story’ was an innovative action research project that explored the needs and experiences of children and young people whose parents were in recovery from substance issues. My main responsibility was to undertake a review of the literature and conduct a practitioner survey.
The internship also gave me the opportunity to work closely with children and young people’s practitioners and develop my knowledge of the sector. Part of the role also involved presenting the research findings to key stakeholders. An experience that gave me the confidence to take up a temporary opportunity to deliver undergraduate seminars at the University of Stirling.
What are doing you now?
Four years later, I am delighted to still be working for Corra Foundation. I have been fortunate to have been involved in different strands of Corra Foundation’s work, gaining experience working alongside charities, government and partners. Last year, I helped out with BBC Children in Need, supporting their grants work and the appeal night.
I have recently moved into a new position as a Policy & Events Officer, a role that involves monitoring the policy landscape closely to enhance Corra Foundation’s policy and influencing activity, as well designing and managing events.
How did the position impact your life, professionally and personally?
My experience as an intern helped me to establish my career. Corra Foundation is an inspiring place to work, with bold, ambitious aims around creating positive change for people in Scotland. I am very grateful for the continued support from the team at Corra Foundation, as well as developing skills I am always encouraged to take on new challenges.
What would you say to other graduates who may be unsure about starting an internship?
If you’re not one of the very lucky few who leave university with a job lined up in their relevant discipline, graduating university can be very daunting. I would encourage graduates to keep an eye on internship opportunities with Adopt an Intern. It could kick-start a very exciting career!
Like the sound of Ffyona’s internship? We’re currently hiring for the same role.