I’d always had the stereotypical vision of internships: making coffee for everyone in the office, or being given ‘busy work’ that no one else has the time for – the kind of thing you would see in the movies.
But I have been working as a web development intern at Soapbox for the past 10 months and I’m glad to say that I have not had this experience at all.
On my first day I remember being quite nervous and somehow managed to get to the office an hour earlier than I was meant to! My nerves calmed down after being welcomed by my manager and getting to know the rest of my colleagues during my welcome lunch.
I also learnt that I was starting my internship at the same time as another developer, which helped a lot as it meant I was not the only newcomer to the office, and I was able to share the experience with someone else.
Entering the world of work
Before starting university, the only job I’d had was working at a bakery in my local village. I didn’t quite know what to expect with this new ‘big and fancy’ internship, but I did know that it would not be as easy as handing out cream cakes all day.
This internship has given me a taste of the real working world. I have experienced new things, such as collaborating with colleagues to develop sites, working to deadlines and communicating directly with clients.
As a web development intern, I have also experienced coding at an industry level, browser testing new sites and exploring and fixing bugs that have been reported both internally and externally.
It’s not all just work though. Throughout my time here, I’ve been involved in all the team activities that have gone on. One of the many traditions of Soapbox is the ‘Christmas walk’, which took place in Bath this year!
Here’s a picture of us all, one hour into the walk (before all the aches and pains, and long before the dinner).
Experiences like this have been lovely, even though I hadn’t really thought about the social side of work before I joined. It didn’t take long to get used to though – and the occasional free pizza doesn’t hurt!
I have two months left until I go back to university full time, and I can say that my time here has been incredibly valuable. I’m glad I chose to embark on this journey during my degree as I have achieved so much that I would not have been able to otherwise. I am incredibly proud to have exceeded my own expectations, and to have produced some of my best work over the past year here.
Some people may think that interns are given low-skilled tasks, but that’s not been my experience at all. I was given the opportunity to work on multiple projects, no matter what skill set was needed, and was always properly supported and able to ask for help (even if I had some real ‘newbie’ questions).
I have worked on many sites over the past 10 months, such as helping with the development of The International Growth Centre site, as well as making changes on existing sites like One Health Poultry Hub and Afrobarometer. I have also gained experience in managing and conducting WordPress maintenance for several sites.
Looking back on the past few months I can see that this internship has been more than just part of my degree. I have met some amazing people who have both challenged and supported me, and I’ve been surrounded by people who have pride in what they do.
I won’t lie, I have had my fair share of difficult days, but each one has been a valuable opportunity to learn new things.
All in all, the lessons I have learnt at Soapbox will be carried across to my future endeavours, and I am proud that the work I have produced will be seen and used by the public, even after I have finished my internship.