Why interning in the third sector might be right for you

Iona Campbell, a postgraduate student, explains the benefits of taking part in an internship with third sector organisation, Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland as part of the Find a Solution programme.


As a Master’s student in human rights, I was looking for an opportunity to gain professional experience in research and came across an internship with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (https://www.sbhscotland.org.uk/) as part of the Internship Hub’s Find a Solution programme.  At the end of the February, I was taken on as a Research and Innovation Intern. I was overjoyed by this as the pandemic has made it difficult to find jobs relating to my field. I felt incredibly lucky and excited knowing that I would soon be gaining important experience in the third sector.

My role with SBH Scotland, as with most work in the third sector, is multi-faceted with every day presenting new experiences and challenges. I am involved in several projects, which in my opinion, link closely to human rights in their aim to make the world more inclusive and healthcare more person-centred. In my very first week, I became involved in the creation of digital stories told from the perspective of people with long term, complex conditions who had been through the transition from paediatric to adult care. I am now involved in the management side of this project, engaging with participants and helping drive the project forward. I have also been involved in the project management and admin for the creation of a transition board game. This was co-produced via zoom with adults who had experienced transition. I really enjoyed being involved in this as it was good fun and I learnt a lot about transition that I did not know before.  Prior to joining SBH Scotland I had very little knowledge about Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus and the transition process.

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This opportunity has really opened my mind to a world I have never experienced personally and I feel humbled that everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. Two months on and I am now extremely enthusiastic about moving transition towards a holistic process which allows people to have agency in their own care. This is a concept I am passionate about; I believe that everyone should have the right to navigate their own journey. I am really proud to be part of the work we are doing. Person-centred design is something I would really like to learn more about therefore I will incorporate research of this concept into my dissertation next summer.

In the past two months, I have learnt so much about professional environments of the third sector, about research and about myself personally. I have discovered the ways in which I learn best and been afforded the opportunity to have a certain level of responsibility. This internship has given me more confidence in my skills, whilst also demonstrating where there is work to be done. I have found the team very supportive, although I do wish that I was able to meet people in person (…but who doesn’t?).

In terms of research, I have gained real life experience of the theory I am learning through my MRes. It has shown me that the world of research is immense and that there is always something to learn and discover. I am excited to be taking on this role full time, having finished university for the year so that I can really commit to learning more and improving my research skills.

Going forward, I am really looking forward to developing my skills in research and project management further. I believe this is the first important, professional stepping stone for my career and I plan to use the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can!

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Find out more about the Internship Hub and our internships.

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