Vanessa Sefa’s Summer Internship at EN

By ENPress in alumni, Top Tips, Blog, Events, Internships, VolunteeringComments Off on Vanessa Sefa’s Summer Internship at EN

This summer, as the sole intern of Elevation Networks (EN) London office, I was offered the opportunity to take on a bespoke internship, tailored to my personal development goals.

Being the first in my family to go to University, all I knew was that an internship was a “good idea”. So in the autumn term of my second year, I began by applying to top firms for EVERYTHING.

But mid-way through an application I stopped and asked myself “why am I even doing this?”. I put myself in the hot seat and questioned myself on whether I was applying for those roles to help me pursue my personal career aims or whether I applied simply to have a prestigious company on my resume because others were.

Self reflection had me conclude that it was the latter.

I wanted to achieve, in a field where work experience is not easy to come by, so I needed to become purposeful in my search. A bible passage that shaped this thought was Ephesians 5:15-17. I needed to create an opportunity when it did not yet exist.

So, I reassessed my personal aims, got myself a mentor that aligned with them and re-researched for internships, those that would GENUINELY support my goal of entering into education.

I found and reached out to Elevation Networks via email. I displayed my interest in the organisation, by showing my research into the organisation, its founders, what they have done and how they aligned with my personal motivations. I met with the founder over coffee and we discussed the possibility of securing a summer internship.

During my 10-week internship I:

– Orchestrated the running of the 2018 Great Debate Tour, putting on the largest tour in the event’s nine year history. Organising this nationwide tour, I liaised with over 67 Universities to put on 35 separate tour dates across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The tour celebrates the diversity and heritage of ethnic communities whilst simultaneously tackling current affairs issues most relevant to the audiences.

– Planned and lead the Leadership Summit for the African-Caribbean Alumni Network (A-CAN). The day aimed to develop their skills in leadership and planning. To do this I enlisted the support of 5 panellists, 6 volunteers and 1 keynote speaker. Orientated around their development, I carefully selected panellists who had either been society Presidents who had been in leadership positions and had gone on to become dominant forces within their own fields or worked within employment and diversity.

– Went to No. 10 for the Disparity Audit round-table, joining in conversations centred around the retention of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students after entering University, admission and attraction of BAME to Russell group Universities, and contextual admissions.

Aside from these experiences, I refined my soft skills. I became more proficient in organisation, keeping to deadlines for events and meetings with partners through using my calendar. I became more eloquent in professional communication by phone and email. I strengthened my resilience for when things didn’t go to plan; I was better able to adapt and think on my feet, finding alternative solutions quickly.

With the autumn term now approaching, if you are searching for an unconventional internship, be smarter than I was. Don’t waste time applying for positions that are a side step, rather than a stepping stone towards your intended career path. Use your time now to re-evaluate your goals, plan how you will navigate your way to them and and begin compiling a list of contact details for organisations of interest. Research them thoroughly, and contact them. If they don’t reply – follow it up! There is no shame in chasing your passions!

Vanessa Sefa,
Intern at Elevation Networks,
University of York

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