In late September 2017, I left a permanent job in Belfast for a short-term contract with Superhighways.
Whilst my parents cautioned about leaving stability behind, the position would allow me to put my postgraduate journalism degree to use and develop my digital skills. I was also excited about working in the third sector and moving to a city as huge and diverse as London.
I was sad to leave Superhighways at the end of April 2018 after a 7 month stint – the small team are incredibly welcoming and encouraging. Whilst being a small organisation, Superhighways packs a punch. Superhighways is based in Kingston but has members from across south London and beyond.
About to start an internship?
Here are my top 3 tips for interns working in digital in the not-for-profit sector:
1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When I started with Superhighways, I had already been working for a year after finishing my postgrad degree in 2016. However, these were roles in customer service and hospitality, and freelance journalism. I was new to working in digital marketing.
At the start, I often worried about not seeming competent enough if I asked for further clarity or assistance. But the point of an internship is to learn – you aren’t expected to arrive with a huge amount of knowledge.
2) Make the most of networking
Looking back, I think this is something I could have developed more. I was very fortunate to be frequently out of the office, attending a range of brilliant events about digital in the third sector across London such as Social Media Exchange 2018.
These events were opportunities to talk to people working in digital in charities across London, the UK and on some occasions, globally such as US based Beth Kanter speaking on The Three C’s of Making Fundraising Social. Most of the time I felt quite intimidated as I was among the most junior staff present.
But networking could be the key to your next career move – it was a personal connection that got me on the radar of the company that followed my internship with Superhighways.
3) Ask to focus on your weaknesses
Before doing the internship, my background was mainly in print journalism and writing. I had some digital skills from brief training during my postgrad degree.
I asked to do more video and audio as these multimedia aspects were not something that came as naturally to me. You should be considering how best in an internship you can push yourself out of your comfort zone, for personal growth and thinking of all possible avenues that your career could go next.
One of my core responsibilities as a digital marketing intern was to put together the monthly e-news on Mailchimp. Working towards an established template, I gathered together articles, case studies, graphics and more. The e-news serves as both a means of sharing news about the organisation, our courses and wider sector news.
The advantages of Mailchimp over simply sending out a standard email is the professional look plus being able to track how many subscribers open the e-news, and what they click on.
Mailchimp allows for multiple kinds of mailings and multiple subscription lists. I also created and managed single-issue course alerts.
Having previously only worked with InDesign, I had the impression that design either had to be quite tricky or something you had to outsource.
Within the charity sector, budgets are small and designers fees aren’t!
I was delighted to discover Canva, an easy to use graphic design tool which looks slick.
I made many different posters, graphics and social media posts on Canva. Charities can access the full version for free.
Before I worked for Superhighways, I had underestimated the power of audio.
I tended to think video was more powerful.
Video of course can be and definitely should be utilised by third sector organisations, and I used video on numerous occasions. However, audio can be as emotive and more time efficient.