Usha, a final year student in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, spent her summer as a policy intern with the Mayor of Bristol. We asked her about her experience, and how it is helping her to achieve her career goals.
Why did you decide to do an internship, and to apply for that one in particular?
I received an email from the Careers Service advertising the opportunity. I immediately applied because it was the perfect opportunity for me. The application involved writing a 10,000-character document demonstrating how my experience matched the outlined person specification. It also involved a practical assessment where I completed tasks that were typical day-to-day activities in the Mayor’s Office. After being shortlisted, I was called for interview. My closest friends and family know how much I struggle to gain enough confidence to apply. So, when I made it to interview, I was terrified but also excited.
How did you get the internship?
Passion always shines through. I think, read, talk or shout about politics almost all of the time. And so, the actions that led to securing my dream internship were not, at the time, conscious moves to enhance my CV. I was mostly just saying yes to interesting opportunities which came my way.
This year I attended careers events and workshops, I used resources on the Careers Service website, and I met my personal tutor regularly to discuss my interests. I found that these small steps gradually landed me in a position where I was comfortable enough to narrow my options down. With a few ideas in mind, I spoke to professionals and asked them about their career: what are the day-to-day activities; what are the challenges, highlights, benefits? Bit by bit, I began to build a greater idea of what kind of life will fulfil me. I understood what got me out of bed in the morning, and I learnt from the happiness, passion, and drive of the professionals I met; that it is possible to build a future around what you love.
How has it helped you prepare for your career after University?
The three months I spent in the Mayor of Bristol’s Office have made me more confident that I want to be a Policy Advisor in the public sector. Beyond this, I’ve become more familiar with key policies and organisations in Bristol. I’m also involved in exciting initiatives in the city and now feel like it’s possible to pursue a career that will really make a tangible difference to other people’s lives.
What advice would you give to other students looking for an internship?
Whether you are deciding on a career, looking for an internship, or finding courage for an application, know your strengths and what you are looking for – and importantly, believe in yourself.
If you would like to find work experience or an internship to help you explore career ideas and develop your skills, go to www.bristol.ac.uk/careers/jobs/ to find out about options and start looking for opportunities on mycareer.