Experiencing the Global Internships Programme as an intern for Mission East

In this blog post we will be hearing from Kendrah and Ebba. Kendrah is the Quality and Learning Manager at Mission East and Ebba is a King’s graduate who completed a Global Internship at Mission East’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Read on to find out more about Kendrah’s and Ebba’s experience of participating in the Global Internships Programme.

Ebba’s experience

Tell us a little bit about you

I am a Swede who grew up internationally and ended up settling in the UK for 5 years. I completed a BA in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, and as graduation came around, I was too scared of unemployment that I accepted the first offer that came my way. As a result, I got stuck in a miserable job for a year, nowhere near the sector I wish to work in.

That year of misery taught me the tough lesson of focusing on finding a career I enjoy, rather than what will pay the most. No amount of money is ever worth misery for 38h/week. So I started an MSc in Disasters, Adaptation, and Development, to begin my journey to establish a career in the field of Humanitarian Aid and Development (where my passions lie). I have now graduated, been hired into a permanent position thanks to the Global Internships Programme, and love going to work.

How did you find the internship opportunity?

I came across the ad for the position while exploring King’s CareerConnect (KCL’s employability site), but refrained from applying because it was advertised as a June-August internship, which is when I would be writing my dissertation. However, after about a week of contemplation, I applied anyways, with the hopes of a flexible start date for after August. As it turns out, September to December suited the NGO better than the advertised summer months.

What was your role? Can you give a brief overview of your duties and responsibilities? 

My internship focused on MEAL (monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning), and assisting the operations team with their tasks. Fortunately, my manager and the NGO were flexible with the job description to tailor it specifically to my skills and opportunity for learning.

What was the outcome of your internship?

I got hired into a full-time permanent position with them, starting as soon as my internship contract finished. It was also the best learning experience I have had, to date.    

Why did you want to do a Global Internship?  

I saw the Global Internships Programme as a way to get my ‘foot in the door’. It was the ideal segue from academia to the professional world. It also offered an opportunity to work in a new country. Generally, internships can leave the employee vulnerable as a result of the lack of insurance or other benefits provided by the employer. I found the Global Internships Programme to be the best way to secure an internship with the necessary securities of health care, insurance, and emergency assistance.  

What was the highlight of the work you did/internship as a whole?

The fact that my organization values my learning and development, and provides a supportive and encouraging working environment. I can say, without a doubt, that I enjoy every single day at work, even the days I have to work late.   

What advice would you give to someone else considering a Global Internship or somebody currently completing an internship overseas? 

If considering:

  • Always apply even though you may not think you satisfy ALL the requirements, or the start date, you have nothing to lose, and it is definitely worth the effort if it goes well.
  • Look for an opportunity you will actually enjoy. Your passion will come through in the application and you will naturally do better as you are genuinely interested in the job.
  • ALWAYS use the career service for help, they exist for a reason.

If currently completing:

  • Try and network as much as possible and keep in contact with your colleagues afterward, they can always help you in the future.
  • The internship is only 3 months, give it your all while you are there because it’s over quicker than you think.
  • Take the time to explore whatever city you are in, or hobby you have, pro-activity both at work and outside work will get you far.

Kendrah’s experience

Tell us a little bit about you

I’m Mission East’s Quality and Learning Manager. In this role I promote the implementation of our quality standards throughout the organisations. I also work on systems, tools, and policy that promote consistent excellence, smooth operations, and exchange of learning across our different country programmes. It’s a role that includes lots of travel to train, coach, and roll-out improvements with staff and partners in our country offices, as well as times of working on developing new systems and coordinating with other departments at HQ. I’ve been working for Mission East for 10 years now, in a variety of different roles (5 so far!), which has allowed me to explore several different aspects of the organisation and my own capacity. I’ve been working in the NGO sector for 13 years now, with experience in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at a European headquarters.

Was the experience beneficial to your organisation

This is the first time in recent years that Mission East has hosted a formal internship in our Brussels office. We were keen to try it out as a way of injecting some new energy and capacity into the team for a period, and benefitting from the new ideas and skills that a student fresh out of a relevant university programme could provide. We were very happy with the experience, and found that not only did an intern help us move forward on some areas that needed attention that others in the organisation could not give, but also added positively to the dynamic in our office. We’re planning to continue hosting interns periodically in the future.

What were the major strengths of this intern?

Ebba has an easy going, positive, proactive attitude that made fitting her into the team and our daily work almost effortless. She came with a flexible attitude of being willing to try anything, and learn as much as she could during her time with us. With a sharp brain, an efficient approach to her work, and a dedication to detail, she learned quickly and was soon given increasing levels of responsibility, making for a more enriching internship experience. It was also a major asset that Ebba had a relevant field of study and some past volunteer/internship experience in the NGO sector so that she had a relevant foundation on which to build.

What advice would you give to another employer who is considering participating in the Global Internship Programme to hire an intern this summer?

I would definitely recommend giving it a try. The support that KCL provides with advertising the post, shortlisting and initial screening makes this a much easier recruitment process for you. It feels like a shortcut to getting a capacity boost. When you’re selecting an intern, I  believe attitude, motivation and potential are more critical than technical skills and experience. If they come with some fledgling skills and experience that are relevant to your area of work, that’s a bonus, and will make it easier to get them up to speed, but most importantly, finding someone who has a great attitude and is willing to learn and try whatever comes their way, will be an asset to your team no matter what they do. 

Big thanks to both Ebba and Kendrah for sharing their experience of the Global Internships Programme with us! It’s not too late to secure your own internship, whether in the UK or somewhere abroad, so make sure to check out some of our resources on the King’s Career Kit, King’s CareerConnect and on KEATS to help you get started.