With the Sutton Trust Internship Scheme 2022/23 now open for applications, we had a chat with our current Programmes Interns, Aiyesha and Magdalena, to chat about their journey to the Trust and their experiences as interns.
1/ Can you describe your journey to the Sutton Trust?
Magda: I first came across the Sutton Trust when I was in Year 12 and was considering my options for university. At that point, I applied for and participated in the Pathways to Law programme at the University of Bristol and found it to be an invaluable experience, which helped me make an informed decision about the next steps and confirmed that Law was something that I wanted to study at university. As I was applying to university a year after moving to the UK from Poland, I didn’t know how to go about writing my UCAS personal statement, or what I could even include in my answers. After completing the programme, I had so much hands-on experience to talk about and demonstrate my interest for Law. While at university I saw the challenges which students from lower socio-economic backgrounds like myself face with seeking out opportunities. This, alongside wanting to give back to the Trust, motivated me to apply for the Internship Opportunity at the Sutton Trust, which I started after graduating from university in 2021.
Aiyesha: I was first introduced to the Trust in 2016 when I participated in the UK Summer Schools 2016/17 at King’s College London. The Summer School supported my journey into higher education and allowed me to experience first-hand the impact of the Trust’s work. While studying at King’s College London, I interned at Eastside Education Trust and gained knowledge of educational issues faced in the UK. Working as a lead Widening Participation ambassador on the UK Summer Schools 2020 at King’s College London also allowed me to mentor and work directly with disadvantaged young people. These experiences increased my interest to engage with a greater reach of young people in developing the skills and knowledge to progress into university, apprenticeships or the workplace. As a result, I applied for and began my internship at the Trust in September 2021.
2/ Can you describe your journey to the Sutton Trust?
Aiyesha: Growing up in a deprived area has led to a passion in championing social mobility. Having completed the UK Summer Schools 2016/17 programme, I wanted to work with individuals from a similar background and tackle the barriers disadvantaged young people face when accessing higher education, apprenticeships or the workplace. As an individual who enjoys learning, I applied to experience working with various teams at the Trust and understand how they fit together within the charity.
Magdalena: As someone who comes from a lower socio-economic background, I appreciate the importance of the work done by the Trust and wanted to contribute to a change in the social mobility landscape in the UK. As I had a great experience on the programme, I wanted to give back to the Trust and support students. On top of that, I was curious to see how things are done from ‘the other side’, which the variety of the tasks I get involved in really allows me to do
3/ How and where did you find the internship?
Magdalena: I came across the Internship on the Sutton Trust LinkedIn page, and later used the Sutton Trust website and Instagram account to find out more, including the great insights and insider tips from the previous group of interns.
Aiyesha: I found all the internships available through LinkedIn. Following the Trust’s Instagram account solidified my interest as I was able to hear more about the internship and top tips when applying from the 2020/21 interns.
4/ What has been the highlight of your internship so far?
Aiyesha: A highlight has been working directly on the UK Summer Schools and Apprenticeship Summer School. I was able to gain hands-on experience planning and delivering the programmes, from developing a social media marketing campaign to hosting informational webinars to prospective students. The project allowed me to liaise and communicated with various external stakeholders such as our 13 university co-ordinators, MPs, teachers and parents. It has been incredibly exciting to witness the large interest in our programmes, with over 13,000 applications for our university and apprenticeship Summer Schools this year!
Magdalena: I have really enjoyed the chance to be creative! I get to create content for our Instagram page, including research posts which give me a chance to think of fun ways to display our important research. I have also had the opportunity to go along to our Alumni Leadership Board Residential Meeting at the beginning of April and take pictures and short videos of our alums, which you may see on our Instagram! (in the process I unofficially acquired the title of a ‘creative director’ 😊)
5/ What are some of the tasks/projects which you have been supporting with?
Magdalena: I work most closely with the Alumni team and have supported with the operation of our brand new Sutton Trust Alumni Platform, where we share employability content, as well as information about job opportunities and events. I also support the wider Programmes team across a range of areas, including writing reports for employers following work experience placements, creating content for students on the Sutton Trust Online platform and responding to phone queries from prospective students and their parents. Oh and of course, the Fun Committee Socials which us interns organise!
Aiyesha: I support on the delivery, communication and evaluation of the Trust’s programmes, in particular the UK Summer Schools, Apprenticeship Summer School and Sutton Trust Online platform. My daily responsibilities include answering enquiries from prospective students and participants and creating social media posts focused on our programmes and research. I also create and deliver content on our new digital platform Sutton Trust Online, which supports over 12,000 students. Furthermore, I have been able to work on various projects with our Communications, Research and Policy team. In particular, myself and the other interns took lead on our MP project which focused on engaging our MPs to support our UK Summer Schools and Apprenticeship Summer School through an email and letter campaign.
6/ Has there been a key skill/topic which you have learned about since starting the internship?
Aiyesha: Throughout my internship, I have been able to gain a wide range of skills through the various projects and tasks I work on. In my first week alone, I learned how to write minutes for an annual UK Summer Schools evaluations meeting with our university co-ordinators – a skill which I had never encountered before! Supporting on the content creation for our monthly Sutton Trust Online newsletters sent to our STO students has also allowed me to develop beneficial copywriting and communication skills.
Magdalena: I have never been very confident at using technology. Since starting at the Trust, I have been able to gain experience at using Excel through creating reports, using our internal database and supporting with online student events. I have also enhanced my communication skills as I got to chair discussion panels organised as part of our three brand new Pathways Online programmes!
7/ Share a fun fact about yourself!
Magdalena: I got to see Justin Bieber in concert for free!
Aiyesha: Most of the time, you can catch me sleeping almost everywhere. My friends have even built a collection of images of me sleeping in various locations around the world!
8/ What are you most looking forward to for the upcoming month of your internship?
Aiyesha: Delivering the Apprenticeship Summer School programme at the University of Warwick this July 2022! This year was the first in-person Apprenticeship Summer School; it was great to engage with employers from a range of sectors and help the participants make informed choices about their next steps after college or sixth form.
Magdalena: I am very much looking forward to supporting with the preparation and delivery of the Pathways to Law National Conference taking place at the University of Warwick and meeting the many inspiring and dedicated young people that we support as they decide on their next steps!