Ahead of recruiting for our next internship vacancies, our current interns sat down to talk through their past year working for the Trust.
We’re currently recruiting for two positions as part of the Sutton Trust Internship Scheme 2020-21. Successful candidates will have the chance to join our team and contribute to our work in championing social mobility and raising the aspirations of young people.
We know it can be daunting applying for jobs, so we’ve asked our current interns Abi, Mariyum and Maariyah, to interview each other so they can shed some light on what it’s like to work at the Sutton Trust.
How did you find the application and interview process, and what did you do to prepare?
Mariyum: I would recommend re-reading the job description when preparing for the interview as it is a good way to consolidate your understanding of what the role entails. I also reviewed my application and CV to help me reflect on relevant experiences that I could talk about in my interview – this is a good way to think about what skills you can offer as well as what skills you hope to gain from the opportunity. I also took some time to look at key literature on the Sutton Trust website and recent articles mentioning the organisation. This gave me a good understanding of the type of work the Sutton Trust undertakes.
Maariyah: My interview consisted of questions from a panel of staff members and a task. I prepared some answers beforehand by looking at the person specification for the skills required and considering the type of questions that might be asked for each skill. So if one of the skills required is to be a good team player, I prepared an answer to ‘Tell me about a time when you worked successfully in a team’. The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a great way to structure your answers, and it helps to practice with someone beforehand.
On the day, I was given a task to complete similar to the type of work I did during the internship. Whilst it was certainly tricky to do with limited time and no preparation, the aim is more about how you approach the task rather than how well you complete it.
How did you settle into your new role?
Abi: My induction week involved getting acquainted with the office and the team. Once I had completed all of the initial training and admin, I spent most of the week getting to know everyone at the Trust. The benefits of an organisation of the Trust’s size are that I was able to meet and learn about pretty much everyone and what they were doing by the end of the week. It was a lot to take in, but it went a long way to making me feel welcomed.
I found that from the very beginning there was a variety of tasks, from taking meeting minutes and supporting at events to running the Instagram and helping students applying to our programmes. You are given responsibility right off the bat while being supported to expand your skillset.
What was the structure of the Internship Scheme?
Abi: The best thing about the Sutton Trust Internship Scheme is how flexible it is! I had so many chances to shape my experience, and my line manager made sure I was always working on tasks that played to my strengths and helped me to develop skills I wanted to work on.
All interns are given a set of office-wide administration tasks as well as team specific ones – mine had to do with managing travel logistics for my team and keeping our stationery cupboard in stock. We also got a chance to work together on tasks like organising social activities for the office, which were fun but also great practice for skills like event planning.
Your tasks throughout the year will vary depending on your team. Your line manager will regularly check in to make sure your workload is manageable and you’re happy with the projects you’re working on. Every 3 months my line manager gave me a chance to take a step back and evaluate what I had accomplished and what I wanted to do next, which made me feel like my personal development was a priority.
What are the key skills or experiences you have developed from the internship that you will take to your next role?
Mariyum: I had the opportunity to develop strong and transferable work skills and I had the chance to assist as well as lead on a range of projects. Supporting with our donor work has given me the chance to understand how relationship management works within a non-profit organisation. Briefing writing has helped me to develop research and concise writing skills, and I also had the opportunity to develop data analysis and presentation skills in daily tasks and in medium to long term projects.
Maariyah: The great thing about the internship is that you can tailor it to the experience you’d like to gain. If I ever wanted to try my hand at something, I told my line manager and they would try their best to accommodate. I’ve been able to develop my skills across different areas, from writing for different audiences when preparing briefings or newsletters, to improving my digital communication skills by using different programmes and software like InDesign and WordPress. The joint intern tasks gave me good experience in event planning and project management, and I now feel l have clear examples to give in future job applications.
What will you take away from your time at the Trust?
Maariyah: A better understanding of social mobility and education policy. Before working at the Trust, I wasn’t aware that the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers could start as soon as the early years. Each stage in the education system has a huge impact on the trajectory of a pupil, so it’s important we make sure it works for everyone regardless of their background. A personal highlight was when the Parliamentary Privilege 2019 report was published after the general election. It was the first piece of research I worked on when I started at the Trust and it got some great media coverage, which was rewarding!
Mariyum: Throughout the course of my internship, I have learned about the importance of being proactive in seeking opportunities for my professional development. There is always something to get involved in. Recently, I co-presented and delivered a speech at the Pathways National Graduation ceremony– this opportunity was definitely one of the highlights of my internship experience.
Abi: I’ve gained a lot of exposure and varied skills, from graphic design and copywriting to data analysis and CRM management. However, I think a more important and intangible take away is the value of a good employer. I had braced myself for a harsh shock of the reality of full-time work after university. I feel fortunate to have been able to set a healthy standard for myself so early in my career so I know exactly what to look for in the future.
You can apply for the Sutton Trust Internship Scheme 2020-21 here. If you’re interested in hearing more about our internships, check out our Instagram page, where we are answering some more questions about what it’s like to work at the Trust.
*Please note that the application and interview process has been reviewed for this year’s scheme, so some elements may not be the same for this year’s applicants.