While I’ve long been certain that I want to pursue a career that makes a positive impact on society, if you’d asked me back in the autumn of last year what exactly that would entail, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
When I applied to the Ethical Internship Scheme during my first year at university, I saw it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the third sector. I hoped the process would narrow down my career aspirations and provide an outlet for my interests in education, culture and international development. One month into my placement with United World Schools (UWS) and I’m happy to say that this is definitely the case.
UWS, a small charity founded in 2008, uses a low-cost, community-focused model to deliver basic education to marginalised children in remote areas of South-East Asia. UWS seeks both top-down permission and grassroots collaboration to build schools and train local teachers. They support the continuation of indigenous cultures and traditions, as well as recruiting help from committed international volunteers. Currently, there are 14 UWS schools in Cambodia, with plans to expand and replicate the model in countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the coming few years.
Alongside providing general support to the UWS team working on school, corporate and volunteer partnerships, my role is centred on communications (which complements my position as Publicity Officer on the Southampton Hub committee). I edit and proofread newsletters and PR resources, as well getting to interview some of UWS’ partners and write case studies on their experiences.
I also currently manage the UWS Twitter account (@teamUWS) and work with members of the UWS Council to plan awareness and marketing strategies. I’ve enjoyed learning more about fundraising too, and recently submitted UWS’ application to The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2013.
So far, my expectations of the Ethical Internship Scheme have been met and exceeded. My experience with UWS has given me a real insight into the workings of a small charity, and I now better understand the skills needed to effectively engage both existing and potential supporters. I benefit from working with highly experienced people from a diverse range of career backgrounds, as well as getting to attend the Student Hubs training sessions that run alongside our placements throughout the summer.
Overall, I’m grateful to be constantly learning and already feel more prepared to start a social impact career when I graduate. I’m now looking forward to continuing to develop my communications, marketing and fundraising skills as I carry on my internship until the end of August.