My time here at the Office of Philanthropic Partnerships and Alumni (OPPA) has no doubt been one of the best decisions I have made during my time here at University. I first found out about the Communications Intern position at the end of the Spring Term of my second year on the student career platform, Handshake. It may seem daunting or you may think it might be better to find experience outside of University, but as soon as I started everyone was incredibly friendly, understanding and supportive. I have never felt more confident in my skills and have grown so much in the past 12 weeks here at OPPA. In this blog, I will be speaking about my experience as an intern at the University of York.
Why you should choose to complete an internship with the university:
As an international student, York was completely different to the two places I have lived in – Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. My internship has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the University of York and all the effort that happens behind the scenes. Through working with the University as a full-time student, they understand that you have other commitments alongside your part-time work. The experience is just as beneficial for you as it is for the office; because of this my timetable was flexible.
Due to Covid-19, we were all working from home but I felt just as welcomed and supported if this were to be an in-person internship. I felt comfortable working from home as the office has provided me with a monitor, keyboard and mouse!
During my final two weeks, I was able to travel back home which is a three hour time difference. Yet I was still able to continue my work just with shorter daily hours to align with UK time zones. No matter how many emails and messages I have consistently spammed to my supervisor, she has been nothing but positive, understanding and patient both in and outside of the office.
Personal Development in Skills:
Throughout the placement, I have learnt a variety of skills that can be applied to future career prospects. I was trained to use the CMS TerminalFour system. This is a Content Management System that the University of York uses to manage its website. I was fortunate enough to work closely with different people in the office and help out with a variety of tasks. Thus, expanding my knowledge and skillset even further.
I learnt how to use Hootsuite, a social media management tool as well as create professional branded Instagram stories. WordPress is a content management system where I helped contact, interview and write articles for Alumni Voices. Photoshop, to crop certain images to the right pixel sizes when applying to different platforms. MailChimp, an email management platform where I built event invitations and newsletters. These tasks have definitely helped me gain confidence in my technical skills. I now have a better understanding of what Communications is like in a professional environment from google calendar scheduling, emails, Slack (business communications platform) and meetings in-person and online.
Alongside these technical skills, I have improved my organisational and time management skills through working on multiple tasks and leading my own project simultaneously. Comparing my experience from the start to now, I can confidently say that this experience has given me the skills needed when applying to future roles which I may not have considered otherwise.
A few tips and tricks I have learnt during my internship:
- 1200 x 900 px is the header for WordPress
- Remember to click Ctrl + T to crop on photoshop
- WordPress tricks you into thinking your layout is correct
- Grammarly UK is your friend
- Hex Color Code – small but impactful for branding
- MailChimp “replicate” function is elite
My Internship Project:
I had the opportunity to lead a two-day photoshoot project for York Unlimited to renew the images on our website. First, I met with the Director of OPPA to find out what sort of ideas she wanted for the photoshoot to start my contact. Then I worked closely with the photographer to organise a suitable schedule as well as coordinated with over 25 staff members and students to fit everyone’s schedule. I organised nine different locations to gain access as well as conducted risk assessment forms to send to the Health and Safety department. I found that most locations I had never been to, as they were only accessible to certain departmental staff. Prior to the photoshoot, I met a receptionist at one of the locations to organise particular rooms that would be suitable to the theme of the photoshoot. It was extremely interesting to find new and different places on campus that I had not been to before. I used a Google spreadsheet to lay out the timetable and contacts to clearly visualise the different aspects of the project.
Learning to work flexibly
Due to the uncertainty of the Covid climate I had to adapt quickly. A few days before the photoshoot, group shots had to be cancelled for the safety of everyone. I had to reorganise locations last minute, reschedule as well as notify everyone involved of the changes made. After this experience, I learnt the importance of having good communication and the importance of flexibility. This allowed everyone to be on the same page and for the event to run smoothly.
We also recently started a TikTok account where I made a video, behind the scenes of the York Unlimited photoshoot. I made another TikTok previously of our beautiful campuses with a few of my favourite places on York campus. Working on my project allowed me the opportunity to speak up during our multiple weekly meetings to update and give feedback to the team. This project has allowed me to work independently and I now feel more prepared in explaining my strengths in job interviews. I have a better understanding of how they enable me to be a good employer and team member.
Conclusion/Why I highly recommend working with the University:
As a History of Art student, I have to admit I was worried that this experience was not related to the Arts and Cultural industry. However, after completing my time here I have realised I absolutely love the Communications side of management. If it wasn’t for this internship, I would not be so sure of applying for graduate studies in Art and Cultural Management. The skills I have learnt at OPPA, the unique opportunities provided have been the most valuable and can no doubt be applied to multiple industries. One of the best parts about working at OPPA is how friendly and welcoming everyone has been. I will really miss working with the team and I am beyond grateful for this wonderful opportunity!