I’m writing this blog post as a culmination of a completed SPIN (Swansea University Paid Internship) placement in the department of Applied Linguistics at Swansea University. A SPIN placement is a paid internship placement generally held for four weeks in partnership with various employers. In my case, I worked for my department alongside a member of my department to carry out a number of tasks.
The internship was really flexible, because although I got given a list of tasks to complete, it was up to me which ones I prioritised. In my case, I decided to first write some blog posts, something I’ve never really done before. I wrote the first about what it’s been like to do a PhD in this pandemic—that was a unique topic that I had a lot of thoughts on! For the second, I asked one of my PhD cohort to write with me about our first conference experiences. It was good to work on something together and I think it made for a more interesting post. Then, apart from blog posts, I expressed interest in hosting some Zoom events, so I was given the green light to do that. I planned a Q&A panel with current PhD students and also ran a feedback session for both undergraduates and postgraduates. Doing both of these enabled me to develop my communication and people management skills, as they involved coordinating with various people I hadn’t met before (even virtually!). It was a bit nerve-wracking to start with but I soon got into the swing of things and really enjoyed both sessions.
One of the most valuable things I got from the internship was definitely the feedback, which was given to me in such a way that it gave me great ideas for things to put on my CV. The experience I gained on this short placement also gave me the confidence to apply for some other internships advertised by my PhD funding body (in my case, the Wales DTP). These opportunities are so varied and can even lead to working for Parliament, or the Department for Education.
I think it’s so important to try and take advantage of all the opportunities that you come across during your university career. Doing something like an internship or placement gives you the opportunity to take a step back from research and gives you practical experience in different areas. So don’t hesitate to check out what your department is offering or ask your supervisor/lecturers if they’ve heard of any opportunities that might be of interest to you! It’s definitely worth it!