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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Our first intern experience increases our data and analytics capacity

This summer, I hired a data and analytics intern through the Career Services’ Employ.ed on Campus programme. It was a very positive experience all round – for the team, for myself as a first-time manager, and for Ash our intern.

Hiring an intern

The process of hiring an intern was simple to start, my department had decided to fund some internships for the summer, so we had a round of proposals and my proposal was accepted, yay! Which meant I was going to line manage an intern, yay?!

The internships were to be part of Employ.ed on Campus, a programme run by Career Services that offers on-campus internships for undergraduate students in second, third, and penultimate years.

Employ.Ed on Campus information for students

After the proposal was accepted, I noted my interest with the Employ.ed on Campus team and they provided guidance on what was expected, the timeline, how to create the job description, ad, and how to post it on People & Money, the interview process, their programme of support for the interns, and other important information.

For a first-time line manager like me, the support provided was immensely helpful in grappling with the many processes within People & Money.

Employ.Ed on Campus information for staff

One of the hardest things to do in creating the job advert was to scope a project for twelve weeks. A lot of the work I take on as performance analyst is ad hoc and priorities can change rapidly so, in the end, I came up with a general goal and tasks for the internship and I asked my team to note any activities our intern could take on or help with during their time with us.

With support from the Employ.ed on Campus team, our department’s administrator, and other members of my team I:

  • created and posted a job listing
  • designed the interview questions
  • shortlisted candidates
  • conducted interviews
  • hired our team’s first intern – Ash

Focus of the internship

Once we hired Ash as our intern it was time for me to line manage someone. Eek!

Ash was with us for twelve weeks – and I was on holiday for three of those weeks. Thankfully, after a somewhat intense training programme at the start of their internship, they picked up the knowledge they needed to complete their regular tasks and the rest of the team was there to support them while I was spotting bears in Canada. (In case you’re interested, the total count was five but, sadly, no grizzlies).

Ash fitted naturally in the team and attended our regular team meetings, team socials and other relevant elements of how we operate.

They participated in a range of projects and activities supporting most of our key areas of activity:

  • User research
    • Usability testing during open days
    • Desktop research on the postgraduate research provision of various universities
  • Content design enhancement projects
    • Support during the postgraduate taught content audit
    • Crawling all audit sites using Screaming Frog
    • Identifying relevant content areas on school sites
    • Creating sitemaps for content audit
    • Website performance analysis with Google Analytics
  • Content operations
    • Support in the creation and automation of a broken links report

Ash was a great addition to the team. They were quick to learn, work independently and were not afraid to ask for help when needed. Plus they are interesting and funny, and don’t seem to mind my constant rants about {insert inane topic here}.

I really hope everyone in the Employ.ed on Campus programme had an intern as competent, intelligent and fun as ours.

My experience as the line manager

This was my first time as a line manager and I was pretty nervous to be responsible for someone else’s workload, motivation, and occupational wellbeing, but it ended up being a great experience and not as daunting as I expected it to be.

From the start Ash was easy to manage because they were communicative and independent. But I am used to working largely on my own; spending a lot of time staring at, and getting lost in, large spreadsheets. So, in the beginning, I struggled with the responsibility of having to provide enough work for another person and checking in on their progress.

To keep on top of my managerial tasks, I set up a task board that outlined the tasks assigned to Ash and myself and set up a daily 15-minute check-in where we would discuss our progress in the previous day, our plans for the day and any blockers we might encounter.

These check-ins turned out to be a great way to get to know Ash, as they would often turn into short conversations on a variety of topics including but not limited to:

  • Terry Pratchett, D&D, and something called GURPS
  • Science and the Datasaurus
  • The number Pi
  • Feminism
  • Stradivarius violins
  • The weird and wonderful world of art conservation
  • Dial-up connections and the many differences between millennials (me) and Gen Zers (them)

Overall, managing Ash was a great experience. While I would love to think they learnt something from me I probably gained more, often obscure, knowledge from them.

Why you should hire an intern

An internship is a great opportunity for a student’s development, and they bring a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge with them. Plus, there is a massive pool of candidates with expertise in all subjects right at our doorstep. For this position we had 90 applications! That is not a typo.

If you have an area of work that you’re just not getting to which could be bundled into a short project, and you’ve got the appetite and capacity for line managing, you should consider hiring an intern.

Here are some more reasons to hire an intern for your team:

  • You can benefit from having an extra resource on your team.
  • They can help reduce your (usually endless) backlog.
  • They are enthusiastic and keen to learn.
  • There are a lot of students who want to gain professional experience, and we can provide this experience for them.

Finally, students know things we don’t! And they can teach them to you. Whether it is an Office 365 option you didn’t know about, or an obscure bit of software, or weird facts about Pi, they are exposed to learning and research that we rarely have the time to pursue in our day-to-day work.

A group of people sit at a table for a meal

We went to a local eatery to celebrate Ash’s time with us. (Yes, Aaron is eating his lunch out of a pineapple).

Another perspective on internships

Before they left us, Ash wrote about their experiences with the Prospective Student Web Content Team.

Data analysis internship experiences – Ash’s write up of their time with us


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