While other teens were kicking back and taking a break this summer, Year 13s Yasmin Kubba and Mille McElroy were pursuing internships at home and overseas
1 October 2018| Last updated on 2 October 2018
Internships and work experience not only provide another dimension to a student’s perception of the world of work.
They also aid the decision-making process when considering a future career path, and can be a motivating factor for the final year of study ahead of those all-important A Level exams, says Tabu Saul, Head of Post-16 Studies at Kings’ School Al Barsha.
“We encourage our students to go through the process of seeking relevant internships that could help them with this, especially if they are undecided about the route they want to follow, or to help them gain experience in their field of interest so they can add more depth to their university personal statements,” she says.
As well as physically entering the workplace, Tabu notes that students develop as individuals by going through the process of independently approaching organisations.
“All of the students who have undertaken internships have been glowing in their feedback about the experience, and have returned as more mature individuals with a real insight into the skills required to work effectively with a variety of people in a professional setting” she says.
This year will also see Kings’ School Al Barsha officially launch a Year 10 work experience programme that aims to guide students towards selecting relevant opportunities that will support the decision-making process when deciding their Post-16 route.
Tabu Saul, Head of Post-16 Studies at Kings' School Al Barsha
The Finance Intern
When she knew that her family would be staying put in the UAE for the first month of summer, Yasmin Kubba seized the opportunity to apply for a Dubai based internship. With offers from PwC, Ernst & Young and 3M, Yasmin chose a position in the 3M finance department.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some work experience at a company within the field that I am looking to study in the future and the 3M offer was a match for my current career pathway,” she says.
A resourceful go-getter, Yasmin got the ball rolling by sending a well thought-out introductory letter to the companies she was interested in and using connections to get a foot in the door.
The week-long internship was action packed from day one, as Yasmin explains:
“The primary focus was to shadow a 3M employee as they went about their day and carry out various tasks such as creating financial spreadsheets, designing presentations, as well as different admin jobs.
“I had my own desk next to the employee I was shadowing, and made sure to ask as many questions as possible, and well as also being asked questions by my colleagues to do with the tasks we were working on.”
Yasmin’s objective was to get a flavour of the workplace before going to university, and to experience everything that comes with it, including responsibility, wearing smart attire and communicating with others within the workspace.
An all-round learning curve, she reports that it was a great starting point for jumping into the real world. She says:
“The process of applying for an internship and having to write a CV, which I didn’t have, helped improve my knowledge about how to apply for real jobs after university.
“3M didn’t expect me to undertake major tasks that I would not be able to complete but I was given a large amount of responsibility and was challenged to work to the best of my ability, They also expected me to demonstrate basic skills that a student should have before they head off to university, such as being able to express opinions, work as a team and collaborate.”
That’s not to say there wasn’t the odd challenge to face, and that included getting used to a 9-6 working day! “Also, managing my time outside of work was important as I needed to complete some things at home for the next day, but in Sixth Form we are taught skills such as time management, researching, communication and decision making, which were all extremely beneficial,” she remarks.
Yasmin walked away from 3M with eyes wide open. She elaborates:
“The internship taught me so much - from learning how to deal maturely with serious situations, to being included in work meetings and sharing my opinions.
“I’ve always wanted to go into finance and accounting, and the internship gave me a further push in this direction. It was exactly what I expected - and more. I’m glad I chose a specific business as it allowed me to experience it from every angle.”
Yasmin Kubba, Year 13, Kings' School Al Barsha interned with 3M's finance department in Dubai
“For other students considering internships, it can be an internship of any kind, even if it isn’t related to the career path you are considering. You’ll learn a lot more than just the work itself. Also, if you are struggling to decide what you want career-wise, an internship is a great way to experience the different ideas you have. Always be punctual, and make a good impression on the person you’ll be working alongside. Lastly, if you are thinking of an internship, the connections you make for the future are invaluable.”
The Legal Intern
A law degree and career is potentially on the cards for fellow Year 13 student Millie McElroy, who doubled up on her summer learning journey with internships on two continents.
She explains her choices, and says: “The first was a two-week stint with Mourant Ozannes, a traditional law firm in Jersey [Channel Islands] where I worked in the specialist litigation department, mainly with trusts; and the second was another two weeks with PwC’s legal sector in Dubai.
“I was lucky enough to have a connection to both companies (it’s always useful to make the most of the connections you or your family have), and so I sent an email introducing myself. This was passed on to the Human Resources team who asked for my CV and a reference to demonstrate my ability and to see what I could bring to the team.”
A full working day was the expectation and, like Yasmin, Millie followed a carefully structured itinerary.
“I usually spent the morning reading background information and then completed any research tasks relating to that topic in the afternoon. Some tasks, such as reading contracts, researching different legislation and attending trials, were complicated and time consuming, but I also spent time proof-reading and creating spreadsheets and presentations,” she explains.
Millie’s internship end goal was to develop her understanding of the legal profession and gain experience to enhance future employability, as well as to provide discussion points with university professors.
“I also wanted to experience having to go to work for the first time before I went off to university. The companies I worked for expected me to demonstrate soft skills, such as conversing with the team and sharing my opinion, as well as proving I could work efficiently and produce high quality work,” she says.
She was also pleasantly surprised by both experiences, as she explains:
“I fully expected to be photocopying and scanning documents, however, I was immediately asked to review contracts and find information on different laws, so this level of responsibility was entirely unexpected and made me feel extremely valued.
“I definitely gained a lot from discussing my next steps with associates who had just finished their training contracts as they were aware of the current process and able to guide me with any specific questions.”
The legal world can be mystifying to the uninformed and understanding legal terminology was one of Millie’s first challenges, as was the high degree of accuracy expected in a short timeframe. Luckily, this is where she was able to employ the planning and deadline meeting skills acquired at Kings’.
An enjoyable experience from start to finish, with a welcoming and approachable team, regardless of seniority, at both firms, she walked away with new insight into the legal profession.
“I am now much more aware of how slight changes to laws can have huge knock-on effects with regards to cases. It was also interesting for me to compare the different legal systems in Jersey and the UAE.”
Millie McElroy, Year 13, Kings' School Al Barsha interned with a legal firm in Jersey, Channel Islands and with the PwC legal department in Dubai
“The most important part of an internship is to be approachable and willing to help with any task. I found this was a personal strength and gave me the opportunity to work alongside partners and produce a high-level analysis of different topics. It is worth noting that soft skills are valued just as much as academic ability when interning in a professional environment. Also, always be punctual and make sure you keep on top of your work!”