Studying in the UK brings you a condition to a wide array of possibilities that you may not have ever imagined. As Aaron, a final year Sociology student, would agree that only when you step out from your comfort zone, you may end up better than you can anticipated. By getting to know about what internship experience Aaron as a current Surrey student has enjoyed during his undergraduate study in the UK, it is hope that international students (especially Hong Kong students) may find it helpful in ways of enriching their own student experience in the UK.
Aaron has joined two internship programme during his undergraduate course.
1) Early diversity internship programme is a government placement programme aiming to provide valuable insight in the everyday structure of government departments.
2) ‘華人青年廣播計劃‘ is a youth-led internship programme in a London-based Chinese radio broadcasting institution aiming to provide practical training to students whom are fascinated in developing a career in media and journalist.
Me: When did you decide to go for an UK internship during your study at Surrey?
Aaron: I remember I started planning to gain working experience since my arrival at Surrey in my first year. It is because I expect a more intensive structure of my course in my 2nd year and 3th year so probably 1st year is the only time I can try to taste an internship. The reason for which I get an UK internship is pretty common sense : it might be helpful at some point when I finish my degree here. The nature of my first UK internship helps me to boost my CV because working in UK government bodies can demonstrate my capacity to adjust myself in a English-medium working environment.
For my second internship in the UK, actually it is not until the beginning of the 1st semester in my final year I realise that my past working experience (acquired both in HK and UK) may not fit in my desirable intents. And after getting some reflexive comments, I start to build up confidence to integrate my hobbies into some real and productive work. This being said, I agree that we shall purse our passion in a certain industry and it justified myself to enrol for the broadcasting placement.
Me: What do you expect to learn from an UK-based internship?
Aaron: ‘I learnt about how to accept failures and rise from them.”
Perhaps it is not what the mainstream says, but I believe that learning my own limitation and weakness is the reward of doing an internship. University study is a stage where we ourselves can learn our weakness and rectify it as a result. Within that stage, internship creates opportunities for us to ‘make’ mistakes, and that experience can definitely increase my competency and confidence to accept responsibilities of job duties after graduation.
My second internship covers broadcasting, news coverage and marketing in a Chinese Community radio serving the Chinese community in London. Since Lunar New Year is approaching, we will faciliate the mega celebration event at Charring Cross. With the honour to have the mayor of London joiningthe celebration, I can definitely hone the marketing skills in which the radio broadcasting company facilitates the promotion of Chinese tradition in London.
Me: Do you think it is difficult for international students to get an internship in the UK?
Aaron: I would admit that it can be quite difficult. One of the major constraints is our (as a Hong Kong students) ability to master English language in everyday context. It just prevents us from applying for anything at first place. Another obstacles I would reckon as cultural difference. Some Hong Kong students, even myself at the beginning, reinforce their timid and reserved characteristics in the working culture. But actually, it may prevent you from immersing yourself in a multi-cultural society.
Take an instance of my internship. Whenever there are anglophones and Chinese speakers in the same work team, Chinese people tend to be more hesitant to share about their life outside the office and being less chatty when working (perhaps that’s because Chinese people ourselves rely heavily on role-taking which is part of out culture?)
I did go to the Internship Fair to get an insight on the types of internship opportunities offered around Surrey and in the UK. I would agree that it provides you a basic idea of what requirements that you may need to achieve to secure an internship.
Further to that, a way to make sure my CV free o grammatical errors is to make an appointment with the employability centre. I would say, grammer always explains the potential drawback of our success.
Me: Do you believe that taking an internship is a wise decision?
Aaron: Definitely it is. An internship enables me to understand myself, You are expected to make minor mistake during work, and that is the precious thing about internship – you can learn from your mistake. More importantly, those rectifiable mistakes can substantially get yourself prepared for the bigger things, enabling me to build up capital that equipped with essential employability skills,
Me : Do you have any tips to those who may feel interested in getting an internship based in UK?
Aaron: I’d always say that always prepare a proactive mindset to for any opportunities. I am eager to learn from people surrounding in everyday life, which prepare myself to be resourceful. More specifically, practice English in everyday context at Surrey can be conducive to securing an internship – afterall English fluency is an widely-recognized factor to portray a good impression to potential recruiters.
The Employability and Career Centre at University of Surrey has developed a productive partnership with Santander. The Santander internship Programme allows businesses in the UK reach student talents by offering a variety of internship programmes.
There were two Hong Kong students at University of Surrey joining the Santander Internship Programe for one month in May 2017. Based in the Santander branch at University of Surrey, they have completed two research projects regarding to digital banking and customer service in commercial banks.
The following is one of the recent internship opportunity advertised by a Santender partnership entrepreneurship.
One of the highlight of the recently-launched ‘Surrey Pathfinder’ project is that it introduces an internal career portal exclusively to University of Surrey’s students (similar to ‘Jijis’ in Hong Kong). From there, students can refine their own category and the preference of types of works.
I have refined the search to internship and it is one of the results.
It sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? Before anything starts, however, my tip is to create a presentable Linkedin account. As part of the ‘Surrey Pathfinder‘ project, there are regular workshops specifically teach students how to set up an impressive Linkedin account for their professional profile.
Why no go and explore what privilege a Surrey student may get in using ‘Surrey Pathfinder‘ then?
See what’s Megan said about Surrey Pathfinder in her blog and also surf the page yourself !