My name is Oluwakayode Makinde and I’m about to graduate with a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and Management from the University of Glasgow. Halfway through my programme, I applied for an internship opportunity with Kaplan International Pathways.
As an international student, one of the main reasons for studying abroad is to improve your chances of having a successful future career. I personally believe internships are one of the best initial steps towards accomplishing this goal.
I had previously been working as a Kaplan Student Ambassador. I did this because I wanted to prepare for my professional career and increase my employability, and this turned out to be an amazing decision!
I was accepted onto the internship, and I spent a month working with Kaplan Pathways’ Content and Marketing Department. I worked with various teams including the Customer Relationship Management team, Design team, and Content team.
Here are a few things I learnt during my internship and how it has prepared me for my future career.
One of the key advantages of an internship is that graduates with work experience, such as an internship, are more attractive to employers. As a graduate with experience, you’re seen as more valuable to a business as they may need to spend less time training you.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a Product Manager from a large technology company. On discovering I was in working as an intern, she highlighted that as an employer herself, she looks out for graduates with prior work experience.
My skills and their limitations
During an internship, you learn a lot about your skills, and your strengths and weaknesses. This can come in the form of valuable input from supervisors or from colleagues. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you may not have as a working adult.
In my time working with Kaplan, I had the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills that I had previously developed through my studies. I was able to integrate these skills into my everyday work, giving me a deeper understanding and appreciation of them.
For example, while working with the Advertising Campaigns team, I was tasked with doing some market research. To do this, I used Microsoft Excel to organise my findings and detail my process.
I was able to do so using skills I learnt from my undergraduate degree. However, the short time scale and deadline forced me to develop practical time-management and planning skills too.
I’ve been asked, regarding my role, “aren’t you studying Engineering though, is this relevant?”. To which I answer, in an internship, there is no such thing as wasted experience. All knowledge acquired is useful either as directly related skills or transferrable skills.
Focusing strictly on one form of experience, although good, might narrow your options.
Interestingly, my master’s thesis highlighted the importance of transferrable skills for graduates.
From my research, I understood that there is currently an increasing trend towards ‘well-rounded graduates’. That means that there is a growing need for graduates who possess both technical skills (for example, programming) and soft skills (for example, leadership).
In my time working, I have carried out presentations, team-focused exercises, brainstorming sessions, and organised meetings. This has greatly improved my communication, and ability to work in teams.
Insight on my career path
Having spent my time after my undergraduate study working solely in an Engineering company, I quickly realised my low level of transferrable skills. This was not ideal for my dream job of being a successful Engineering Project Manager.
This internship presented me with a rare opportunity to develop these skills and gave me a deeper understanding of myself as a graduate. However, some students may be unaware of what their dream job is and what skills are required to be effective in that field.
This is where an internship also plays a major role. It is ideal because companies such as Kaplan encourage their Interns to work across multiple departments, acquiring a feel for the various roles and functions within the company.
It is a unique opportunity that allows you to fail, learn, understand, and grow. To sum it all up:
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