Case study

Graduate intern — Jack Whowell

Jack is learning fast and taking on new projects in his university role as an education administration graduate intern

How did you get your job?

I studied for a BSc Events Management at Sheffield Hallam University. I applied for the role of graduate intern in the Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion through the university job portal - the position was only open to Sheffield Hallam graduates. I was then invited to interview and got a call back saying that I had been successful.

What's a typical working day like?

As I’m doing project based work, there can be lots of ongoing projects happening at the same time. I do lots of research into specific areas such as the widening BME (black and minority ethnic) attainment gap within the education sector, empowering student voice and market research into other universities, comparing their courses to ours. This information gets put into a feedback loop as I report back to help influence any future work that may take place within the department to ensure sustainable development.

In order to further these projects I need to set up meetings with academics and other members of staff, so it's vital I keep my calendar up to date and organised. These activities also allow me to network and make great connections within higher education.

I work flexi-time, so if I'm busy I can work hours that suit me and tailor my free time around meetings or conferences. This helps me strike a good work/life balance.

What do you enjoy about being an education administrator?

The people within my department are all really friendly and very outgoing. From the start, they have been there to help me or answer any questions I have. You get a real sense of teamwork, which is probably the best thing about the job.

I also like how job has placed me outside of my comfort zone and I've completed projects I never would have in roles elsewhere.

What are the challenges?

Being organised is definitely the biggest challenge. If you're not organised, it's extremely hard to be efficient in my role. To start with I found the idea of office work hard to grasp, as my previous jobs have all been within the hospitality sector. It was initially hard to transition. However, the transferable skills I've learnt have enabled me to succeed in this role.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Events management is a broad course. It covers elements such as marketing, business, accounting and finance. So although I'm not putting on events every day, there will be days where I can use what I learnt in marketing, for example, to promote a conference happening within my department. Alternatively, I could use the excel skills I learnt in accounting to create spreadsheets for my managers. It's all relevant in one way or another. This is what attracted me to the course in the first place.

How has your role developed?

As an intern, you have to be ready for anything. From day one, you have to treat the internship as a real job. This shows commitment and interest in the job, meaning you gain more trust from your peers and managers. For me, this has led to an influx of new exciting projects to get my teeth into.

I'm soon to be developing a project on student voice, something that before this role I wouldn't feel comfortable to take on. The more you step outside your comfort zone, the more opportunities come up.

What are your career ambitions?

Knowing that you're helping someone offers a great feeling of achievement and this feeling is something I hope to take forward with me through my internship and my career. I hope to continue working within higher education after my internship is over.

What are your top tips for others interested in education administration?

  • Experience comes in many forms. It's not all about academic experience.
  • Emphasise your flexibility. Interns don't really have set tasks - be proactive and get involved.
  • Don't be put off by rejection. You learn so much more from rejection than you do from success and it makes you try things differently next time. Understanding that job hunting is daunting enabled me to venture out to different opportunities. Make sure you do what you want, be it travelling, volunteering or learning. Test yourself, go out of your comfort zone and be creative. You get out what you put in.

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