My thoughts after my first month as an intern at the School of Psychology

By Chloe Ilsley

So I’ve completed my first month of being an intern for the School of Psychology and wow, it’s gone by so quickly but first, let me explain…

The university has a scheme called ‘FGS Summer internships’ which provides 2nd year First Generation Scholar students with internships in and around the Sussex area in a number of different fields. The initiative is designed to help individuals gain experience within a sector they wish to enter when they later graduate. This year, and for the first time, the School of Psychology participated in the scheme. They advertised for an individual who would help to plan and coordinate events taking place in the upcoming Welcome Week.

summer intern 2019
Chloe at her desk in the School of Psychology Office

I couldn’t believe how perfect it sounded as I’m a Psychology with Education student and this opportunity was a combination of both of my disciplines. I immediately wrote a cover letter explaining my interest and edited my CV. I proofread, passed it onto someone else to proofread and checked again before I was brave enough to send. Am I the only one who has that little bit of nervousness as soon as the application is sent? 

The interview

It wasn’t for another week or so until I had an email inviting me for an interview. I can remember feeling excited and a bit nervous – I knew I wanted this position and I spent the days leading up to the interview convincing myself I was the only possible person for the role and that the interview was the time for me to get to know my future colleagues. The day of the interview, I had a few hours in the morning to get ready and think about what I wanted to say. I sat and reflected on my past work experiences and looked back on the lessons I’d learnt. It was a pep talk that I went back to when, later on, I was sat in a room with a panel of 3 people in front of me.

My first day

It was a bizarre feeling walking into the building knowing I was there for work and not for revision (incoming flashbacks of exam time). I was greeted with hellos and handshakes and made to feel very welcome. A highlight of the afternoon was a farewell staff party for Tom Ormerod – I say lucky because I got to taste some delicious cake (not because our Head of School was leaving, I think I need to make that clear because I would really like a good reference at the end of this experience :)).

A new job is a big change

I know everyone says that a new job is a big change, and they are right – it really is! But I can’t dwell on that because this will be a great chance to learn some valuable skills. Despite having worked for a few years, all my previous experience has been customer-facing, which means I’ve never worked a 9-5 job. It’s the first time I’ve had my own desk!

Apart from the new working environment, I’m also learning to get used to a different way of managing time. The office I work in operates on flexi-time, which is refreshing as I am free to be independent with the structure of my day. This flexibility is also reflected in the way my workload is allocated – throughout the week, I have been given many tasks to do but I’ve been able to prioritise them how I see fit. It’s a great experience working in a trusting atmosphere like this one.

What have I learnt so far?

I appreciate that I am in a very interesting position, being a student and an employee at the same time. This internship provides a great platform for the School to hear a student voice and I want to make sure as much student feedback as possible is used to make all current and future psychology students studies as good as possible. It is surprising how quickly I have seen how much time and effort goes into the School of Psychology Student Experience, something that as a student I had never realised before. I believe this appreciation for the entire faculty will continue growing as I progress.

As you may or may not be able to tell, I am very excited about the next few weeks. I am enjoying testing my abilities adjusting to a new working environment and I’m loving how many projects I’m currently involved in. I am looking forward to the ever-approaching Welcome Week and the beginning of the new teaching term, I cannot wait for the hustle and bustle of new students arriving on campus and seeing everyone enjoy the events we’ve been planning all summer. 

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