The Frontline student internship – “I came away feeling inspired, determined, fulfilled and only slightly chubbier”

31st January 2018

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.

In a light, airy, open-plan office on Rosebery Avenue, a team of people are transforming lives. They are values-driven, innovative and determined, and for three all-too-short weeks I was lucky enough to have the chance to work with them.

I was placed with the Leadership Development team, whose focus is on the personal change and development of Frontline and Firstline participants (Firstline is a development programme for existing social work managers). Admittedly, in the run-up to the internship I had next to no idea what my work would be. I need not have worried! Not only did the team go out of their way to assign me tasks that were specifically interesting to me, but they were also astoundingly well-organised. I have developed a deep, undying love for colour-coded spreadsheets.

Unlike in so many of the stories you hear about summer internship schemes, I was not just the office dogsbody. Far from it! My work ranged from researching leadership development programmes around the UK, to analysing feedback from course participants, to re-designing the Firstline introduction document, and attending recruitment meetings in various local authorities. (And I can verify that I spent precisely zero hours doing the photocopying.)

The last week of my internship coincided with a Firstline training residential, the culmination of a nine-month development programme. Of everything I did, this was what most brought the programme and the work that Frontline does to life. Two days in York with nearly 30 Firstline leaders gave a brief but intense window into the determination, compassion and strength of those in the profession. The buzzwords tossed around speak to the values and impact of the organisation: ‘transformation’, ‘growth’, ‘challenge’, ‘self-belief’. To be honest, I think I probably got nearly as much out of the residential as the intended participants did!

Warning: do not apply for this internship if you dislike food. The Frontline office is food-obsessed. I was right at home. I think we had three picnics within the first week and a half, plus a spectacular Eid potluck lunch in the office, not to mention the bake-off. My expanding waistline and slightly lighter purse are testament to the dangers of working in an office positioned between Leather Lane and Exmouth food markets – both absurdly delicious, hipster, buzzing places.

If you like people, working collaboratively, problem-solving or are thinking of going into public sector work in the future, you should definitely think about applying to the Frontline internship. Frontline’s organisational structure, work-ethic, office culture and attitude to personal career progression are models that should be emulated in many different kinds of organisations, and working here is valuable experience regardless of what direction you want to take in the future.

Most importantly, this is an internship with an actual positive impact. You’re not working for the convenience of some well-paid boss, or even just for your own CV – the mission of Frontline to transform the lives of vulnerable children comes through in everything they do, and you cannot help but catch that spirit of determination and positivity.

I came away feeling inspired, determined, fulfilled and only slightly chubbier.