The intern experience

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For many University Graduates like myself getting through third year is an uphill battle, the last 18 (or so) years of your education have come down to these final essays or set of exams. Once it’s all over and you’ve obtained the most expensive piece of paper you’ll ever own, the question of ‘what now?’ comes into the picture. For graduates not looking to move into further education the prospect of finding a job is extremely daunting. I found myself lacking experience for roles, a degree is not enough anymore to see me into a ‘Graduate Level’ role. There were plenty of opportunities for work experience and unpaid internships but funding these, especially living in London, was a no go. Then I found Cratus.

Cratus is a Communications Company with a focus in Local Politics, a sector I had never heard of before, and they offered paid internships. Perfect. Upon my successful application I was able to start quickly and get stuck in. My first challenge was leaning what Local Government actually did, and to my surprise it’s a hell of a lot! The main thing that captured my interest was that Local Government’s decisions and choices have far more of an impact on your daily life than those made in Westminster. My whole world was opened up to the importance of residents associations, community groups and the realm of planning.

As I learnt more, I was given more responsibility being sent along to local council Planning Committee Meetings to observe and report back: I felt like a spy. These meetings are a fascinating insight, the intricate relationships between opposing parties, committee members and friends can all have a bearing on the outcome of a planning application. These observations all fed back into the depth of knowledge the company has to ultimately help our clients’ applications be in the best possible position. I have also learnt that no two councils are the same each have a different set of planning policies, visions for the area and members on their Planning Committee, this is what makes what we do so fascinating.

Progressing further I have been involved in public engagement side of the business, displaying plans and engaging members of the public to get their views. I came to appreciate the amount of work that is put into these events to reach audiences from all walks of life. At some of the events all members of the consultation team were on hand to answer the public’s questions and I got excellent first-hand experiences of talking to the public about development. I came to realise how much people cared about their local area and were ready to engage with Local Government about anything down to the loss of a tree or large-scale redevelopment. I have a new-found respect for community groups that organise themselves for, in their opinion, the greater good of the area.

My Internship at Cratus is now at an end and I have progressed to a more senior role and am continuing my personal development. Graduates shouldn’t shy away from starting at the bottom, paid internships are on the rise and are a fantastic way to get insight into a job or sector previously unknown. Having made the leap from a science degree into local politics and planning I couldn’t recommend taking off into the unknown enough.

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