(Featured image – Sophia, on the far right, and some of the Community team at the Meadows festival)
Our Employ.ed on Campus internship blog series continues with a fantastic contribution from Sophia, a third year Social Policy with Quantitative Methods student. Hear about Sophia’s experience as the Social Impact Evaluation Intern in the Department for Social Responsibility & Sustainability (SRS) and reflections on her internship.
Over to Sophia…
Why did you decide to apply for an Employ.ed on Campus internship?
I found out about the Employ.ed on Campus programme through the Widening Participation email communications, which aim to increase the participation of non-traditional or disadvantaged students at the university. It took me a long time to decide which internships to apply for because many of them were interesting to me and looked like I could gain a lot from them, as well as utilise my existing knowledge and skills. I was also applying to external internships as well as studying for finals, so I only applied to a couple I really wanted to take part in. I was delighted when I was offered this internship, as I felt it was a good fit with my interests and the knowledge I’d gained through my degree. I was excited for the opportunity to experience working in the social impact sector and develop skills in social research.
Can you tell us about your internship experience?
I had just completed my second year and worked over in SRS as the Social Impact Evaluation Intern. My role was based in the SRS Community Team, mainly focused around reporting on and improving the university’s Community Plan. This plan lays out commitments the university has made to share with and improve the local community – on topics as wide as sharing resources, volunteering, and supporting social enterprises. In practice, this role involved two main projects. The first was preparing for the Community Plan 2023 reporting, where I had the opportunity to analyse the previous year’s reporting surveys, and process and update them for this year. The second project focused on researching ways to improve the next Community Plan (2025), including benchmarking against other organisations, researching theories of change, and participating in workshops.
My internship was hybrid with two days a week in the office. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work from home as well as spend time in the SRS office in High School Yards. I also got the chance to visit various sites including Drumbrae (Stirling), where SRS colleagues are reforesting to sequester carbon, and take part in the Meadows Festival to inform locals about what the university is up to with the new Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) building.
Can you reflect on what you gained through this internship?
I have gained many skills and built my knowledge over the summer, ranging from professional skills such as mastering Office 365, learning how to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system), desk-based research skills, and developing a much more comprehensive understanding of what is meant by social impact. I have enjoyed learning about what the University does to support social impact, and thinking of ways this can be expanded further. I got to apply some of the knowledge and skills I had gained through my degree as well as discover how these concepts play out in a real-world context. I am proud that I was able to contribute to interesting work, bringing new ideas to streamline and improve some of the processes in the team.
I am delighted to say I was offered to stay part-time in the department over this academic year, which will allow me to continue my work on the Community Plan. Over the next couple of months, I will be interviewing internal stakeholders about the progression of the commitments over this year to gather data for our reporting. This role has inspired me to continue to pursue a career that will have a positive social impact.
What are your top tips for students considering an Employ.ed on Campus internship in the future?
My top tips for students considering Employ.ed on Campus 2024 are:
- Have a good look through all the internships available because there is such a wide range of roles and be open to opportunities when they arise!
- Speak up – if there is something you want to work on, or you have suggestions to improve something. You were hired for a reason!
- Listen and learn from other interns across the University to get a real understanding of the wide range of work and opportunities available.
Many thanks Sophia.
Keep your eyes peeled on Inform.ed for more inspiring Employ.ed on Campus internship insights.