When Anna Martindale accepted an internship with the charity Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA), she expected a 12-month contract in an admin role. Instead, she was given lots of responsibility Ė and eventually a full-time job!
Iíd been looking for a job in the voluntary sector since graduating from the University of Warwick in the summer of 2010. Iíd studied a degree in philosophy but had also been the charity officer at the studentsí union. For new graduates, the job market is so tough at the minute and Iíd been searching for a full-time position for a number of months.
Initially, I wasnít sure about accepting an internship; you hear the occasional horror story and the salary is obviously a lot less than a full-time position. But when I was offered the chance to have an internship at CLAPA, I didnít want to turn down the opportunity.
My official role was as the Fundraising & Communications intern. My involved looking after the administrative side of fundraising Ė everything from updating the database to writing the newsletters. However, at a small charity such as CLAPA, my role was less regimented than it might have been at a larger organisation. Soon I was taking on new responsibilities, including organising CLAPAís annual conference.
Looking back at my internship, Iíd have to say that the conference was the highlight. To realise that I was capable of organising such an event Ė just a few months into my internship Ė gave me a real confidence boost. The conference went really well, too. We invited health professionals, children and their families, along local and national press. Treatments were discussed and advice was given Ė the feedback from the attendees was very positive.
The most enjoyable aspect of the internship, along with knowing the difference that the charity is making to people around the world, was the range of activities I was allowed to get involved in. Lots of them didnít fall strictly under my job description, but when you take an internship, you want to learn as much as possible. Once my colleagues saw that I was capable of taking on the extra responsibility, they were happy for me to do it. Iím not sure if Iíd be so trusting with interns, but I was grateful they were!
After my positive experience, Iíd recommend internships to all new graduates Ė especially those who are fortunate enough to be able to live rent-free with their parents for a while. In the current climate, getting your foot in the door is priceless Ė and it often leads to full-time work.
Thatís what happened with me. In February this year, four months before my internship was due to end, I was asked if I would consider staying on in a full-time capacity. I instantly agreed. My new job title is Fundraising & Communications Officer. Essentially, Iím covering a lot of the same areas I did during my internship, but itís lovely to be a full-time member of the team. Plus, itís allowed me to move out of my parentsí house!
Find out more about CLAPA on their Charity Choice page!
This article first appeared in Charity Choice magaine, Issue 11.