Meet the Interns

This page presents the experience of numerous interns from a variety of different backgrounds – some of them from as recent as Summer 2019. See how they found their experiences and how their career plans have been shaped by their time as an intern.

Summer 2019:

Hannah Moussa, Adult and Community Services

Elise Richmond, Waste Services

Summer 2018:

Liam Self, IT

James Hayward, Waste Services

Summer 2017:

Bethany Lamb, Environmental Health

Heidi Falcon, Mature Student in Public Transport

Chris Elmer, Economic Development

Summer 2015

Tim Jennings, Adult and Community Services

 

Whilst we will try to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to do an internship in your first-choice department. What if you aren’t offered a placement in the area you wanted to work in? View the former interns’ experiences below to see their perspective on the matter having been there themselves:

Grace Grant, Communications

Jamie Pitchford, Assets and Investments

 

Hannah Moussa, Adult and Community Services (Suffolk County Council)

What was your role during your internship?

I was an Adult and Community Services (ACS) intern. This involved completing an integrated program for health and social care in the Lowestoft and Waveney area and formatting a beds glossary, to highlight all the different types of beds used throughout the year in hospitals such as the James Paget. I was also involved in a case for change, which was a highly sensitive area at the time. Lastly, I completed an Adult and Community Services business plan. This involved condensing and summarising information into one document with detailed aims and objectives provided.

What have been some of the highlights of your experience as an intern?

There were many! However, to narrow it down, taking part in many employability skills training days and mock cabinet meetings. Also, going on visits within ACS to access individuals’ needs for equipment in their home to help them become more independent and reduce the need for care in the future.

What impact has the internship had on you?

The internship had a very positive impact on myself. I have learnt so many skills, such as developing problem-solving skills to make sure the project I was involved with worked as smoothly and effectively as possible. I also developed communication skills with other interns but also employees of SCC. IT skills such as using PowerPoint, Excel, Word and SharePoint and finally initiative to get the job done and be as creative as possible.

What impact did you have as an intern within your organisation?

I completed many different projects which are being used effectively within ACS in Lowestoft, such as the North Area Plan, the “case for change” document used to present a restructure in ACS. Lastly, various spreadsheets and Word documents used by various managers in ACS.

What motivated you to apply for an internship within the public sector?

The great opportunities and contacts the internship would allow me to get. The many skills I would develop.

In what ways were your expectations about working in the public sector been met/challenged?

The public sector was nothing like I expected, the work I was involved in was very interesting and not just admin! The working environment was lovely, and the hours were very flexible.

How would you describe the impact of your internship on your future career/studies?

The skills I learned throughout the internship I will use throughout my future career. The methods I learned for writing reports and essays will definitely be used in my final year at university. The employability skills I learnt throughout workshops I have already used when applying for graduate schemes, contacting employers and finding jobs.

What advice would you give to anyone considering applying for an internship within one of our councils?

Just do it! The experiences you gather and the skills you learn throughout the internship will really set you up for future life and career paths. Even the application process will help you to understand what applying for future job roles is like and the kinds of questions the interviewers will ask.

And finally…What are you up to now? How has your internship influenced (if at all) your future career path?

When finishing my internship, I actually got asked to stay on for another month to help out with further work. Now I am back at university completing my final year. I am using the skills I learnt throughout the internship to apply for jobs and graduate schemes for when I finish university. However, I am also considering a role in the public sector.

Elise Richmond, Waste Services (Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils)

What was your role within your organisation?

My internship is within Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils Waste Services team. My main responsibility has been to work on an SWP (“Suffolk Waste Partnership”) campaign known as Food Savvy. This has included attending a range of events and working towards educating the people of Suffolk on the issue of food waste.

What have been some of the highlights of your time at the Council?

The highlights for me have definitely been having the opportunity to work outside of the office and engage with the public face to face. We have done this through different market stalls in local towns, attending Latitude music festival, as well as a range of exciting family fun days in the local area. It has been great to use these opportunities to educate children particularly, as they are the ones who can hopefully make changes for the better in the future.

What impact do you think your experience has had on you?

The whole experience has been positive, enabling me to learn a lot of things, develop new skills and expand on previous skills. I have undoubtedly improved my communication skills, especially within a professional setting, both verbally and electronically. The internship has also enabled me to be extremely creative with my ideas and to have the confidence to follow up on said ideas. 

What impact do you think you have had on the organisation?

I feel that as an intern I have enabled the Council to make the most of new opportunities that they may have not previously been able to. With the waste services teams being so busy across the councils, we have been a useful resource to complete tasks that they may have not been able to.

What motivated you to apply to a position at the Council?

I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to develop important life skills while working in a sector that would have an impact on my local community.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

I would advise future applications to have confidence in themselves and their abilities. If they are successful in getting the role, then also to take every opportunity that is provided to them. This is a unique experience, so it is worth making the most of it.

Liam Self, IT (Suffolk County Council)

When I started my internship, I had recently graduated from the University of East Anglia with a BSc in Computing Science and planned to return to UEA the following September to study for an MSc in Advanced Computing Science.

During my placement at Suffolk County Council I worked within the IT Department. This was my second time as an IT Intern at SCC having gained experience in 2015 in a range of different areas and teams, from Business Analysis to Strategic Support. This time I was based within the Digital Development team, where I worked as a mobile app developer.

Over 12 weeks, I collaborated with the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to develop a new mobile application for the service’s on-call firefighters. Given the limited time they have available while on duty, the app allows firefighters and operational staff to keep up to date with news, events and other important information via their personal mobile phones, without needing to access the Service’s intranet at a station. In addition, the app displays a real-time log of incidents across the county, which can help inform on-call staff as to whether they are likely to be called out.

The project had been ongoing for a little while before I started, with an iPhone app partially completed. However, it was decided that we would start again from scratch and use a framework that allowed us to develop a single app that would work on both iOS and Android without having to write two separate applications in two different languages, a decision that allowed us to complete both apps within a couple of months. The project was certainly a challenge; having never developed a mobile app to completion before, and with little experience programming in C#, I spent the first couple of weeks focussing on learning the basics before beginning work on the project itself. Throughout the project, my manager was very supportive and provided help and assistance when I needed it, while giving me the freedom to work independently and manage my own time. During my internship, I worked closely with the delivery manager for the project and key stakeholders from the Fire Service, meeting regularly to ensure that I delivered a finished product which was fit for purpose.

I have greatly enjoyed my time with Suffolk County Council. While initially quite a daunting task, I’ve loved the chance to work on a project that stands to provide real benefits to the fire service. The last 12 weeks have given me valuable experience, both technically and in applying my skills within a public sector environment. The experience and skills I have developed at SCC will also help a great deal with my Masters dissertation which I wish to centre around accessible user experience in mobile applications, with a focus on audio-based navigation technology for the visually impaired. Developing a mobile navigation app will be a major part of this and returning to university with experience in writing mobile apps for real customers will help with that greatly. Looking further forward, I am interested in continuing in academia, but my time at SCC has inspired me towards pursuing a career in the public sector in the longer term.

James Hayward, Waste (Suffolk County Council)

I applied for an internship with Suffolk County Council unsure what specific career I wanted, except that it would need to benefit communities and the environment. I immediately recognised this internship would offer invaluable experience of local government, whilst promoting environmental behavioural change following the rise in plastic and waste awareness.

From day one my aim in this internship was to promote the waste agenda to ensure waste is increasingly recycled and reduced, which coincides with the values I want in an environmental and community-based career. Having been welcomed by the waste team, my management team provided me with meaningful objectives to deliver the department’s aims of moving waste up the agenda, whilst delivering value from the budget – largely through public engagement. These objectives formed an independent research project of the feasibility and demand for an app, to develop a social media presence and organise a countywide series of roadshows to engage with the public about recycling and reducing waste to great success. I worked on commissioning funding for, and creating, a training video which has the potential to make substantial savings on crew training costs, reduce contamination at Suffolk’s recycling facilities, and increase public awareness of contamination. Throughout these objectives I had the full support and knowledge of the team to tap into. These objectives not only allowed me to work with the whole department to understand how councils work to deliver statutory EU and UK environmental legislation but also enabled personal growth and development in areas such as creativity, confidence, and public speaking.

As much as I have supported the waste team to deliver their objectives under increasing pressures of austerity, they endeavoured to offer me opportunities to practically develop risk management which I had conceptually studied at University. This has vastly improved my recruitment opportunities in the risk industry. The team often asked for and incorporated my experiences and knowledge into their emerging new emergency planning documents, so I felt extremely valued. Furthermore, I have begun drafting up a new Risk Register for the department which is aimed to improve upon existing resources and streamline the review process. These risks could cost the department millions or have catastrophic consequences, so it feels amazing to be able to contribute to this work, and my contract has been extended to ensure this is delivered into the management team.

My internship was not the cliched 9-5 office PA-style intern job people envisage. My work was meaningful, and I was able to tour state-of-the-art installations, getting out across the beautiful Suffolk countryside, work from home, and even go to Latitude Festival, where I not only enjoyed helping make art with families, but saw some of my favourite bands afterwards!

I would fully advise anyone to apply for a Suffolk County Council internship, regardless of uncertainty about career decisions, as the experience working in local government is enjoyable and flexible, and the skills and knowledge you develop are adaptable to any future employment. They have welcomed me from day one and have provided me with the tools to apply for a fantastic role in Islington Borough Council, which would never have been possible three months ago. Furthermore, the depression I suffer with has lifted and I have not felt this well for several years. I am delighted to commit to a further month to complete a side project I asked to manage and deliver. This experience has also supported my travel to the Russian World Cup, a future visit to Brazil and a US road trip!

Bethany Lamb, Environmental Health (East Suffolk Council)

During my internship I had the opportunity to work on a range of projects across Suffolk Coastal and Waveney and expand my knowledge relating to how the environment is managed where I live. Engaging with the public and learning first-hand what environmental issues Suffolk residents are particularly interested in and concerned about was particularly stimulating and allowed me to broaden my understanding of what matters to the communities in Suffolk.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to receive a tour of a solar farm in Lakenheath, organised by the Greenprint forum, as well as visit Suffolk’s Energy from Waste and Material Recycling Facilities.

One of the projects I undertook during the course of the 12 weeks involved looking at ways to improve the efficiency of Waveney’s housing maintenance fleet, this project required  analysis of fuel and driver data and researching ways the fleet might be able to cut its fuel costs as well as its greenhouse gas emissions. I was handed responsibility for this project and found the experience of working independently, from the research to the report writing stages, extremely rewarding.

I also worked alongside Air Quality Officers to assist in a re-design of East Suffolk’s Air Quality website. I revised and updated the pages whilst also exploring opportunities to make the webpages more engaging and clearer, with particular emphasis on encouraging the public to consider how they can change their behaviour in order to aid local air quality improvements.

This internship has provided me with a large number of transferable skills which will aid me both during my remaining year of study and in my career following university

Heidi Falcon, PMO Analyst and Project Support Officer (Suffolk County Council)

How does your role as an intern compare to your current role?

When I was an intern, I worked in the Public Transport department and I had the opportunity to be part of great projects that helped shape future policies and find ways of saving money. Now I work as a PMO (“Project Management Office”) Analyst and Project Support Officer and I support Project Managers and Programme Managers in the delivery of different tasks or workstreams. I also have to share my time with the PMO Lead Team who is responsible for summarising reports and putting together high-level analysis for Cabinet Members, Scrutiny Committee, Corporate Planning, Performance Board and many others. I am part of a team of four people. 

What have been some of the highlights of your experience?

I enjoy working with the public, although some topics can be very contentious, being among people passionate about a topic and supporting discussions can bring great ideas and sometimes even re-energise the will power to get things done. I supported a consultation regarding changes of policy in school transport. On one occasion, there were representatives from schools and parents and although it wasn’t easy to maintain focus on positive changes their input helped shape the current policy.

What impact do you think the internship experience has had on you?

The internship was a very gentle way to be introduced to some very big projects. I was able to hone down on lateral thinking skills as I faced policies and procedures that were alien to me. As well as having to talk to people from all walks of life on different topics, you become a very good conversationalist very quickly. There was always support available, so it is also easy to develop a sense of team and build rapport.

What impact do you think you have had on the organisation?

I try to be positive in every task that I face. As I am not in a decision-making position, I try to ensure that I have provided the most up-to-date information to those with the final responsibility and in that way, I can ensure I have done my part in providing great service.

What motivated you to apply to a position at the Council?

As a mature student I am constantly thinking of my family and the best future I can provide for them. That is why I thought of applying to work in the public sector may help me, albeit on a small scale, shape the future of Suffolk for the better.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

The only advice I would give is to remain open minded and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Currently, Public Services face some big challenges, and this brings possibilities for innovation and change.

As a mature student, did you feel accepted and equal in comparison to the younger students?

I can sincerely say the expectations were the same across the board. The tasks at hand required people motivated to see them through and we worked hard as a team to find consensus and learn from each other to finish it.  

Chris Elmer, Economic Development (Suffolk Coastal District Council)

During my 12-week internship with Suffolk Coastal District Council (now part of East Suffolk Council) I was involved in a range of different projects and opportunities. I worked under the supervision of the Economic Development and Regeneration team, learning what the department does and how it operates. I had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of meetings and events from business conferences to workshops in primary schools.

My main project for the duration of the internship was an investigation into the state of Adult Learning in East Suffolk. I first sought to understand what learning provision there already was by talking to training providers and collating all the existing data into one place. I then created a questionnaire to understand the demand for adult learning from the general public. I analysed all this data and wrote a report outlining my findings which would be used to deliver a presentation at the annual East Suffolk Partnership forum event later in the year.

As interns we were also tasked with a challenge to engage the community in our respective districts.  As one of the five interns in East Suffolk we decided to run an awareness and information campaign regarding Community Action Suffolk (CAS) and the volunteering work they do. The aim of the event was to promote the image of CAS and encourage people to volunteer with them.

My internship has been a valuable experience into the world of work in the public sector. I would recommend it to anyone seeking experience or insight into the operations of local government.

Tim Jennings, Adult and Community Services Contract Manager (Suffolk County Council)

What is your role within your organisation?

Responsible for managing a team which has a portfolio of over 100 adult care providers contracts, including care homes, domiciliary car and community-based services. Monitoring services to improve the delivery of personalised care and support outcome based and promoting choice and independence, using a wide range of quality improvement tools and methodologies.

This role includes commercial strategic planning and market shaping under tight budgetary controls. With a strong emphasis on co-production, service user engagement throughout the commissioning cycle. Working in alliance with partners in the statutory, private and third sector to achieve better outcomes for customers.

To what extent did taking part in the internship programme prepare you for your current role?

When I took part in the internship in 2015 it gave me a really good experience of collaborative working with many public sector partners and integrating health and social care. Being involved in the start of this integration has helped me progress in the council to be a manager now building on the integration between the two services over the last 4 years.

What have been some of the highlights of your time at the council?

Having ownership and being empowered to run the initial market engagements with service users on how they see and use social care and health services.

What impact do you think the internship experience has had on you?

I developed from the internship skills around communicating complex messages to a wide range of audiences. Collaborative working was key within my internship which I have transferred to all my roles since.

What impact do you think you have had on the organisation?

My work during my internship helped the organisation understand the views and opinions of service users right at the start of this project that is now over 4 years old.

Following your completion of the internship programme, what led you to apply for a permanent position at the Council?

My decision was due to the level of autonomy and empowerment you get at the Council to own projects and collaborate with many different organisations from the public, private and third sectors.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Go into the internship with curiosity, the Council is such a large organisation and works with so many partners you need to keep an open mind and explore new opportunities there will be for joint working and working in new ways.

Grace Grant, Communications Team (Suffolk County Council)

I originally applied for a Policy internship placement because I felt it would complement my degree. Although I was not successful in securing this placement, I was offered a placement on the Communications Team. I was reluctant to accept the placement at first because I was unsure as to whether it was relevant to an LLB Law with Politics course. I am so glad I accepted the placement because I now believe it is somewhat irrelevant what placement you do as part of the Internship Programme.

Any placement you take part in at Suffolk County Council will give you an invaluable experience and insight into life in local government. Every person I met at SCC asked me what I wanted to get out of my internship, what I wanted to experience and what skills I wanted to build upon. I spoke to people during my lunch breaks who would ask me these questions and then would invite me to take part in work and activities that suited my degree. My team also encouraged me to take part in activities that suited my degree during my time there. For example, my manager encouraged me to attend cabinet meetings and to shadow the Chief Executive as I wanted to gain experience in politics. You will be in charge of your own project giving you the freedom to work in a way which relates to your degree and build upon skills that you feel you need to improve.

Accepting a placement outside of your comfort zone will open your mind to different paths which you have never thought about. You might even find yourself in a role you enjoy more than your degree field. Your degree opens many doors for you so don’t close them by only accepting placements that relate to the field you’re studying.

Jamie Pitchford, Assets and Investments (Suffolk County Council)

Initially, I had applied for the Democratic Services role and was interviewed at the assessment day for this. The next week, I learned that I was unsuccessful but that I had performed well and that my name would be put down in case another role came up. Following this conversation, Suffolk County Council got in touch offering a choice of two roles which had been created after the assessment day. I chose to go with the Assets and Investments Team as I thought it would be a healthy challenge to put myself into a situation where I had no prior experience. I was beyond impressed with the support I was given, bringing my knowledge of property transformation and management to a good standard within the first few days on the job. I went on to help with several projects which I had a key role in and was given genuine responsibility.

Taking my experience into account, I would wholeheartedly recommend working in any role across the Rising High internship scheme, even if it might not be the one you initially applied for. If you go in with the correct mentality, ready to learn and to speak up if you need help, it can be an even more rewarding experience finding out about areas of the public sector you might never have known existed previously.