Wondering how a Leeds Internship Programme Graduate Internship can help you to achieve your career goals? Read on as Leeds Alumni, Robin Armit, explains how the programme helped him.
During my degree, Italian & Spanish joint honours; I spent over half of my time outside of the country, in both Italy and Chile. Staying in the latter granted me the opportunity to backpack my way round the rest of the South American continent with another University of Leeds student who was in Chile with me. Having spent so much time freely roaming the world, after graduating with a 2:1 in 2012 I found myself unsure about what it is I wished to do next. As my persistent state of travelling for the past eight years had meant that my CV contained little more than temporary bar work and other similar jobs, I felt uncomfortable about my job prospects. My immediate thoughts were to get back onto the road as fast as possible.
My next destination after graduating was Spain, where I returned to bar work. After the summer season was over, I undertook an internship for post-graduates organised via the EU called the Leonardo Scheme. I chose to go to Portugal where I worked in the tourism industry for three months. It was great opportunity, and I would recommend it to anyone, though the scheme has now been replaced by Erasmus+. Your stay is funded by the EU, and you gain experience of working in another EU country, learn the language, and relive a little of those study abroad days. Unfortunately the internship only lasts three months, for me it ended mid December 2012, and I was still undecided about my next step.
The job hunt
In the first month back in the UK I began to apply unsuccessfully for a variety of very different jobs around my home city Edinburgh. However, I was not in low spirits about this, I made a point of keeping myself busy by; playing rugby, taking French Lessons to try and regain a skill I had left at school, and offering private tuition in Italian and Spanish, which I taught at least three times a week. Amongst other things, I believe it is important to keep yourself busy when you are unemployed. This is particularly important when it comes to interviews; filling your time with skill-building activities demonstrates initiative on your part. The gaps between full-time employments are less significant if you are able discuss what it is you have done, rather than what you have not done.
After a month, I decided to change my approach to job seeking. I looked at what the University of Leeds had to offer in terms of internship schemes. Subscribing to the Careers Centre e-mail for internship opportunities, I found the lists they sent very extensive, covering just about any sector that one might wish to work in – there were areas of work I did not even consider. Thus, I applied for five different internship schemes.
My job at Focus Online Management
The week after sending my applications, I had received replies from all 5 companies I had applied to through the Leeds Internship Programme asking for me to come for an interview. I was astonished as I did not expect such a quick response. In the end I only went to one interview, as I was offered a job by the first company that interviewed me on the very same day. The company is called Focus Online Management, an affiliate marketing firm based in Leeds, who specialise in marketing for online bingo sites. Our clients include hundreds of the bingo operators; William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and Bet 365 to name a few. My role within the company is to provide digital marketing services to our main portals, such as Which Bingo UK, and I am also the advertising manager of our Spanish bingo sites, where I deal directly with our Spanish client base.
At first I was a little nervous about my new role, as my only experience of digital marketing was through a module I had studied in Chile whilst on my year abroad. However, the company made a point of getting me up to speed with everything I would need to know; and with my own input outside of work, I quickly became adept at my new role. Soon after the internship period was over, I was offered full-time employment, and I have been working here since.
Get your foot in the door
I strongly believe that applying via the University of Leeds was indispensible in securing a job so quickly. I only spent six weeks unemployed, at a time when youth unemployment was still at its peak. I would recommend anyone to search through the jobs the University has to offer through internships, it can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door into a variety of industries, many that at first might seem inaccessible.