Think an internship isn’t for you? Read on! Rob Wilson

U_S_S__Enterprise_NCC_1701-DWhat springs to mind when you hear the word ‘enterprise’? Until a couple of years ago, I probably would have answered “Star Trek” or maybe “The Apprentice”! I’ve since come to realise though that the word has a range of other meanings, and is not just for those working in business or boldly going forth in STEM subjects.

If, like me, your background is in social sciences, then you might think enterprise activities aren’t for you, and that they’re only relevant to PGRs whose research has commercial applications. However, ‘enterprise’ doesn’t just mean ‘business’, and enterprise projects can be extremely valuable to students in any discipline. They can help you build networks, develop transferable skills and enable you to raise awareness of your research.  Undertaking an internship can be incredibly important for any student and have a lasting impact on not just the researcher involved but the organisations and people they engage with.

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The Oxford Dictionary defines an enterprise as: a project or undertaking; especially a bold or complex one. Sounds like a description of a research degree too! Many Open University PGRs aim to work outside academia after graduation,  and an internship with a partner organisation during your research degree journey can add value to your CV and give you great experience and evidence to refer to in future job interviews.  Your skills as a researcher, no matter the discipline, are useful to many types of organisations.  Engaging with a partner organisation also offers you the chance to talk about your research with a variety of people and help you decide which direction you want to take your career.

Here’s what Jo Vincett, an FBL research student, had to say about her time spent working with a charity that befriends and supports women held in an immigration detention centre:

Overall, the internship was an intense period of time, but it met my expectations and I enjoyed the experience. I built technical skills in fundraising/grant writing, strategy, operations and service delivery, survey writing, and monitoring and impact reporting. I built interpersonal skills in leading and working in teams, communication and presentation skills.

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What’s really positive is that Jo recently learned that a funding bid she led during her internship has been awarded to the charity and they will receive over £350,000 over the next three years. What an enormous impact to the great work they’re doing!

A handy thing about doing an internship during your research degree journey is that you can take on such a project with no financial disadvantage. Student interns are paid a salary equivalent to that of their stipend. The Research and Enterprise team can help you approach an organisation that you’d like to work with and will take care of any formal arrangements involved.  If you’d like to learn more, feel free to contact Rob Wilson at robert.wilson@open.ac.uk or 01908 652681 to set up a meeting.

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