In this post, we hear from five of our current undergraduate students who participated in the Internship Fund Scheme, run by the Department of International Relations and LSE Careers. The scheme offers funding to a number of students undertaking an internship that would be otherwise be unpaid and therefore might not be feasible to do. They tell us about why they applied for the scheme, the organisations they worked for, and how this has helped them to develop.
Phuong Dang, BSc International Relations, second year
Internship at: Refugee Action Kingston
I applied for the Internship Fund Scheme because I thought it was an excellent opportunity through which I can begin putting the knowledge gained in first-year IR classes to use – especially in the realm of human rights.
I found an internship using a list of varied organisations and positions by LSE Careers, applying to the ones which intrigued me most. I was lucky enough to land a spot with Refugee Action Kingston (RAK), a charity that supports dislocated persons in Kingston through the UK’S VPRS scheme.
Marwa at RAK brought Kate (another LSE student interning at RAK) and I a tremendous amount of freedom in creating “products” which would be beneficial for the organisation. From June to September, we worked on “Break the Mould”: an online toolbox which encompassed stories in different mediums relating to RAK’s work – identity, personal history, and life. This independence allowed me not only to explore the difficulties of refugee integration in Kingston, but also my own cultural identity and what mattered in building that.
Working for the first time in a pandemic remotely has posed many challenges, but LSE Careers was especially helpful in offering advice on how to liaise and communicate better. The internship, overall, broadened my understanding of work undertaken in the social sector; more importantly, it allowed me to build great relationships with people such as Marwa and Kate and explore what mattered to me.
The internship, overall, broadened my understanding of work undertaken in the social sector
Tom Kirkham, BSc International Relations, third year
Internship at: Safe Passage
I worked for six weeks in operations at the charity Safe Passage. I wanted to gain experience of organisations working towards social impact that are not usually able to offer short term internships; for these organisations, the Internship Fund Scheme is great as it makes a short-term placement accessible and worthwhile.
Safe Passage is a charity that does three related things. For people seeking sanctuary with their families across Europe, it provides legal support to give effect to legislation based on the Rights of the Child. It also campaigns for improvements to legislation, and runs leadership training for refugee students. Safe Passage was among the charities looking for interns in the useful materials that LSE Careers provided to us. My application was well aligned with the role as I had several months’ experience mentoring refugee students and organising mentors.
My work involved recruiting volunteer interpreters for people claiming asylum, responding to enquiries from people seeking legal representation and talking to charities on Lesvos to work out which charity Safe Passage should refer different people to.
As a ground-breaking and dynamic young charity with around 25 people, Safe Passage was a great place to gain exposure to how charities work. It gave me practical work experience and has allowed me to understand better the skills that charities are looking for. Now the hard bit: I have to work out where I fit in!
The Internship Fund Scheme is great as it makes a short-term placement accessible and worthwhile
Tegan Elliott, BSc International Relations, third year
Internship at: International Prader-Willi Syndrome Organisation
I usually spend my summers waitressing and bartending but, last summer, I really wanted to do something that was aligned with my career goal of being a policy advisor.
LSE Careers were extremely helpful during the process. Kirsty Whitlock was amazing, she looked over and helped me edit my CV and cover letters so many times and provided me with really useful interview advice.
LSE Careers provided a list of charities and organisations looking for interns, which is how I found the International Prader-Willi Syndrome Organisation. I wanted experience in research for policymaking and this was my main task with the charity.
The main purpose of the research was to inform the charity of ways it could influence global and regional rare disease policies. I undertook extensive research on global and regional rare disease policies and governance and produced case studies from each of the WHO regions, and translated my findings into policy recommendations for the charity’s Board of Trustees. I also provided the charity with research regarding disparities in rare disease management between countries and regions and solutions to reduce the impact of these disparities.
This internship taught me how to present research useful for policy making, and many of my recommendations were implemented by the organisation. I not only developed my research and analysis skills, but I also acquired a specialised knowledge of the global rare disease community – including powerful organisations, orphan drug companies and influential individuals. This research internship inspired me to go into global health policy, particularly researching global health governance.
This research internship inspired me to go into global health policy, particularly researching global health governance
Dan Lawes, BSc International Relations and History, second year
Internship at: Atticus Communications
Participating in the LSE Internship Fund Scheme was one of the best choices I have made during my time at LSE.
At the end of my first year, I wanted to gain work experience. However, most organisations providing opportunities in the fields in which I was interested in were based in London and did so as unpaid internships. As a student from the North West, I was unable to afford London rent prices over the summer without extra support.
The Internship Fund Scheme negated these concerns and provided me with an incredible opportunity to gain professional work experience. LSE Careers not only presented useful feedback on my CV and cover letter, the latter of which I had never written before, but also connected me to the government affairs agency Atticus Communications who were looking for an intern.
I joined Atticus Communications as a Public Affairs and Media intern, working alongside the core team to deliver services for clients. Throughout my four weeks with Atticus, I did everything from media monitoring and event organisation to writing blog posts and briefing papers for Chief Executives and ministers. I know that the skills that I developed will be invaluable for whatever career path that I choose.
Overall, participating in the LSE Internship Scheme Fund was an exceptional experience and I am incredibly grateful to the International Relations department, LSE Careers and Atticus for helping to make it happen.
Overall, participating in the LSE Internship Scheme Fund was an exceptional experience
Laura Zampini, BSc International Relations, third year
Internship at: JAN Trust
In the summer of 2020, I interned in a grass-roots London charity working with the integration and inclusion of vulnerable women and young people from BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) and Muslim backgrounds.
I applied for the Internship Fund Scheme since I knew I wanted to intern in the third sector that summer and would probably need funding to be able to stay in London as an international student. I originally found an internship in another London charity through an LSE Careers event, but this role could not be done remotely once the COVID-19 crisis started, so the Internship Fund Scheme helped me to find another position.
I was looking for experience in the charity sector since I am very keen to centre my career around social impact, especially education. I had only been a volunteer directly with beneficiaries before, so I was curious to learn how this kind of work played out in the ‘backstage.’
Throughout the internship I developed skills in written communication, research, and graphic design, and it really sparked my interest in advocacy work as well. The internship made me more aware of how a small charity functions every day and confirmed my interest in social impact, although I would now like to experience working in a larger organisation as well.
Throughout the internship I developed skills in written communication, research, and graphic design, and it really sparked my interest in advocacy work as well
Read more about the professional development opportunities the Department of International Relations offers to current students.
The Internship Fund Scheme is funded by LSE alumni donations: if you’d like to donate to LSE, please find out more and make a donation.