Hiya! I’m Martha, I study History at the University of York. In the summer of my second year, I completed an internship at University of York Students’ Union (YUSU). My role was Campaigns Research Intern, meaning I worked alongside the Student Voice team. In this blog, I’ll describe the work I did while interning at YUSU, what I got out of the role, and why you should consider applying for your own internship at York.
What attracted me to the position
I had applied for several internship opportunities at the Uni before, but the Campaigns Research role was the first that felt like the perfect fit.
To start with, it combined my key career interests – research, writing, and advocacy – into one position. While I already had a grounding in these skills through my history course and past volunteering, the YUSU job offered me the chance to build on them and gain essential professional experience.
Plus, YUSU allowed me to work flexibly, splitting my time between the office and working from home. As a disabled student who sometimes struggles with busy environments, but also likes to push myself, this balance was ideal.
As someone with no formal job experience going in, this was a truly fantastic opportunity. I learnt a lot, and now feel way more confident about my future career prospects. I even came runner-up in the on campus Intern of the Year awards, which made my hard work feel all the more worthwhile!
My role as Campaigns Research Intern
My project as intern was to create YUSU’s new ‘Campaigns Hub’, an online platform to help students set up and run their own campaigns, and to advocate for themselves.
I was given a lot of creative freedom in deciding what form the Hub would take, from its content to its design. This pushed me outside my comfort zone – I’d never managed a project like this before. However, consistent support and feedback from my superiors meant that I never felt overwhelmed, and could clarify anything I was unsure about.
After my research period, I presented my proposal for the Campaigns Hub to my supervisor. I then began producing the 12 student ‘guides’ that would form the basis of the Hub. This was one of my favourite aspects of the job. It challenged me to adopt a different writing style to what I was used to – one that was informative yet highly accessible to all audiences.
Making the Hub usable for all was a key element of my project. I attended group training sessions on ‘Creating Accessible resources’ where I learnt many new IT and design skills, such as how to write alt text for pictures and data. I’ll be sure to carry these practical tools into my future working life.
Going in, the most intimidating requirement of my role was that I would need to source my own case studies for the Hub, and contact them to try and arrange interviews. However, this was also the part I gained most from.
In the end, I successfully secured six case study contacts who I conducted Zoom interviews with, including the Head of Campaigns at the National Union of Students. The process was definitely a challenge, but my confidence and ability grew with each interview, and it’s been great in expanding my network!
What I gained
Looking back, my internship was even more rewarding than I could have imagined. I’m truly grateful for the wide-ranging experience it’s afforded me.
I felt supported, trusted and respected the whole way. My supervisor was never dismissive of my concerns or questions. On the contrary, she took into account what I needed and helped bring out the best in me.
I now have a clear understanding of my strengths and weaknesses going forward. The Careers & Placements team encouraged me to write a learning journal as I went, which was great for self-reflection. Receiving the runner-up award for their Intern of the Year was an added bonus!
I would encourage any student to take the plunge and apply for an internship at York! It’s worth subscribing to the Careers and Placements mailing list, to be notified straight away about new roles. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain.