By Mariam Ahmed, BSc Computer Science with Management, Department of Informatics
The holidays are a great time to take a break from the classroom and venture out into the ‘real world’. I had often passed by the Entrepreneurship Institute’s (EI) space in Bush House many times throughout my first year at King’s, trying to get a peek at the projects being worked on. It’s exciting to have my lectures and labs in a building where ventures are applying concepts that I have been learning about into the real world.
I’m glad that I decided to act on that curiosity and apply for the King’s Entrepreneurship Institute’s Accelerator Internship, as the two summer placements that I secured enabled me to get hands-on experience in startups, acquire skills relevant to developing a meaningful career, and enrich my overall academic experience at King’s.
My first internship was at Live More, a startup that aims to deliver exercise to patients in mental healthcare. My role was to work on establishing a concrete idea for the venture and begin the steps for this task. Projects included building a framework for the company, researching competitors/partners, making a website, proposing a data analysis strategy for a pilot programme and compiling a list of funding opportunities. I also had the opportunity to visit hospitals and meet with members of the NHS, which helped me get a better understanding of healthcare systems in the UK.
I then worked as a Software Engineer at my second placement. This was at Shortly, a short stories phone application (available in iOS and Android) that delivers stories to users based on how long they have to read. I was provided technical training for the platforms necessary to work on the app such as Python and React Native. My work at Shortly had real impact, as one of my projects resulted in over 4,000 stories being added to the database! I was also tasked with developing other features for the app such as a story-editing function for administrative purposes and a ‘skip stories’ button for readers.
Both internships ran for a duration of six weeks each. In addition to gaining invaluable industry insights, I also developed many transferrable skills including self-motivation, communication, working under time pressure and being able to work remotely. I am particularly happy to have had the opportunity to learn specifically about tech startup culture, as this aligns with my professional goals.
My internship experience was made possible by funding from Santander in partnership with the EI. As part of the internship, I set goals with my venture leaders at the beginning of my time with them and then reviewed those goals at the end. We had weekly meetings with the other interns to discuss our progress in meeting those goals. This process was useful in helping me refine a focus on what I wanted to achieve during my placements, and the cherry on top was being nominated by the EI for ‘Student Intern of the Year’ – a national competition for Santander-funded university internships. The results come out later in the year, but being nominated was an honour and a testament to how much I achieved this summer. I’ve also gotten return offers from my ventures as well as internship offers from some of the other ventures hosted by the Kings20 Accelerator.
I would say that it’s important to be as curious as possible when looking for an internship, and to maintain that curiosity during the internship itself – it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn as much as you can in a short period of time, and practice skills learnt in class!
Find out more on the King’s Entrepreneurship Institute webpages.