When selecting my degree I, like many other students, was mindful of how increasingly competitive the job market is becoming and how vital it would be to stand out. With this in mind, I opted to do an internship as a part of my degree. I was also excited by the idea of applying what I was learning in my degree whilst gaining invaluable industry knowledge and practical skills. But is this what I’ve found 6 months in? I had heard rumours that you end up making cups of tea for senior management, photocopying and sitting in on pointless meetings. I’m glad to report that this hasn’t been the case for me at all and the only tea I’ve been making has been for myself!
Interview Process and Preparation
The following are insights I picked up whilst completing interview processes for various companies and are what I believe helped to secure my internship here.
- Know your weaknesses
Any business that is recruiting students for internships or placements, knows that our knowledge base is relatively limited in comparison to those who have been in the field for years. Surprise them with your knowledge if you have it, but whatever you do, don’t try to wing it! Be open and honest about what you don’t know- the important thing here is being transparent! This leads me onto my second tip…
- Eagerness to learn
Employers want to see that you’re ready to take on the challenge, ready to apply what you already know and excited to learn more. Because that’s what a Placement is all about; applying and expanding your current knowledge base. Be vocal about this.
Finally your drive for the subject. Employers want to see that you genuinely enjoy and are interested what you do. At the end of the day, they’re employing a person, not a calculator. Whether it’s tinkering with a PC at home or messing about with a Raspberry Pi, if it shows a further interest outside of the academic space, your potential employer is interested.
Having grown up in a little village in Wiltshire with two years spent at Plymouth University, London felt like a million miles away. Thankfully G-Research did a number of things to ease the transition. Even before we, as interns, formally joined the company GR organised an evening in London with the all the future interns, and the current interns and managers. It was a very relaxed evening with beers, pizza and bowling, but it helped immensely with the move to London because suddenly I wasn’t alone in such an enormous city.
Finding accommodation was probably one of the hardest things to do, especially as someone with absolutely no knowledge of London! I personally used a website that connects students moving to, or living in London. GR also gives you the opportunity to sign up with a service that assigns you a consultant to help you find a flat in London. Once you’ve found a place, moved in and settled down it only takes a few weeks before you’re like every other Londoner: avoiding any possible eye contact, walking at 20mph and eating lunch out at every opportunity.
With GR hiring so many interns year on year you quickly make a great bunch of friends in a city with so much to do.
Regardless of what department or team, interns are considered valuable employees and we definitely don’t work on meaningless side projects. Something that has been so clear to me is that the work that I am doing directly impacts the business in one way or another. In the first few weeks you shadow the intern you will be replacing from the year before and they get you up to speed with how the business works and runs.
Another great aspect is the flat structure of the company which means that you can find yourself having fascinating conversations with the head of your department over coffee- as easily as if you were chatting to another intern. This also means that when dealing with difficult issues there’s no problem reaching out to higher ups and asking for help. I can confidently say the respect for each other’s importance of work is mutual across the estate.
GR makes us feel like valued employees by encouraging us to let our hair down every so often. There are plenty of social clubs to join including football, netball and cricket-there’s something for everyone! Additionally, the end of month company drinks and weekends away are a great chance to chat with employees across the company that you may not usually have the opportunity to meet.
Having spoken to course mates at different internships that aren’t particularly enjoying their experience, I feel extremely lucky to have landed here.
It’s been six months and I genuinely don’t want to leave.
Having found new friends, an exciting city and most importantly a job I love, it’s going to be hard going back to University…
…especially having to eat beans on toast and pot noodle again!
By Simeon Haththotuwegama, Information Security Placement Student