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The Frontline student internship – “I’ve learnt more than I could have imagined”

Each summer we offer penultimate year students the opportunity to be part of Frontline’s London office team for a three-week internship. Applications for the 2018 student internships are now open.

As a penultimate-year student navigating careers fairs and employer presentations, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only internships and graduate jobs on offer are in law or finance. In between the numerous stalls representing the banks and consultancy firms, inundating you with free mugs and glossy brochures, opportunities in the charity or public sector seem few and far between. The pressure to secure an internship is immense and at times I came close to applying for roles I had little interest in. Thankfully, I came across Frontline, and though I had little previous knowledge of what social work entailed, I was immediately attracted to their goal of transforming the lives of vulnerable children.

Having now completed the internship, I couldn’t recommend applying more. I have been sitting with the Recruitment team, whose responsibility is to attract and recruit outstanding individuals to apply to Frontline’s two-year programme. The team have made me feel both welcome and valued from the offset. My tasks have been exciting and varied, and have included re-designing the assessment centre used in the recruitment process and planning workshops to put on at universities.

After a couple of days, I was no longer completing tasks simply because it was my job to, but out of a genuine desire to further Frontline’s mission of attracting the best people to go into social work. My work didn’t feel detached and pointless, like in so many internships, but felt as though it would have a direct impact on Frontline’s application process and programme. The more time went on, the keener I became to make Frontline a really attractive option for university leavers.

One thing I particularly appreciated was how much the team valued my student perspective. As someone approaching my final year and entering the graduate job market, I was not just an extra pair of hands; I had valuable insight. I’ve given my opinion on everything from marketing merchandise to psychometric testing and been included in meetings as a real member of the team.

Probably the biggest project I’ve worked on during my time here is a data report on the 2017 application process, which involved analysing and categorizing data, creating charts and writing it up into a formal report. If someone had mentioned this to me before I started, I would have recoiled in horror. As a humanities student, I seldom encounter data and my IT skills are, to say the least, minimal. However, with the support of the team I produced a piece of work I was proud of and developed skills that will be invaluable for any career.

Another aspect of the internship I’ve really valued is how our projects have been interspersed with presentations, learning opportunities and social events. We met each team and really got a sense of how the charity works as a cohesive whole: whether they work in finance, communications or operations, everyone is helping work towards the same common goal of making a difference for vulnerable children. Each team took us for lunch outings throughout the three weeks, breaking up office time with picnics, museum trips and even walking tours of the area.

Perhaps the most memorable activity we did was the mock unit meeting, in which two consultant social workers took us through examples of real-life cases that they worked on, and we took part as though we were Frontline participants. It was an eye-opening experience that exposed the challenges that social workers face on a daily basis, but also what a rewarding profession social work is. Every Frontline employee, regardless of their team, takes part in at least one of these, keeping everyone focussed on the same mission. Whilst I’ve only been a part of that mission for three weeks, I’ve learnt more than I could have imagined and feel truly aligned with the values of the organisation.