There was a mixed response to the recent item in the Brighton Argus regarding BHT’s Intern Programme. I responded on Twitter and on this blog, but yesterday I received the following from someone on the Programme:
“Before moving to Brighton & Hove, I had no idea of Community and Voluntary Sector (CVS) or even the idea of community. Having completed my degree in philosophy I had always worked in the private sector whilst being conscious of the fact I needed to be beneficial to our society. Having managed a business for four years working round the clock, I burnt myself out and made myself ill, all for the aim of making money.
“I moved to Brighton and stopped working due to personal issues. I wanted to take advantage of the situation to change my career path. I wanted to work in the CVS in order to add value to my life by improving the lives of others. I started out as a volunteer in my local community group. I quickly moved on to organising large events and running a local community magazine. I felt that this sector added value to my life and enabled me to help others. Due to medical reasons I have been unable to work professionally but I’m very eager to get over these issues and start to work in the CVS in a capacity that best suits my skills and values.
“Without any recognised qualifications and having been out of the professional work environment for a long time, I needed a platform to achieve my goal of getting back into work in this sector. Brighton Housing Trust’s Intern program is the perfect opportunity.
“Before starting my internship I took on some voluntary work, helping a small charity aimed at improving the area in Hove. I helped organise large events, creating a community magazine and running the community café. I learnt a large amount by volunteering and it gave my life a sense of purpose. The government’s new volunteering policy, expecting people to volunteer in order to receive their benefits or social housing, so long as it’s managed correctly, it’s a great idea. Volunteering certainly gave my life focus and opened my mind to new possibilities as well as revealing hidden skills I never knew I had.
“There have been articles written arguing that BHT has taken advantage of these new legislations regarding their new Intern program. As I mentioned above volunteering really does pay you back in kind but the intern program is a totally different kettle of fish. With the intern I may not be getting paid financially but the level of precision in BHT’s delivery will certainly lead to getting a paid job in the sector I wish to work in.
“The intern application was managed in a very professional manner with a process that emulates a real job application. I had to give references, fill application forms, as well as have several interviews and meetings both with the Intern co-ordinator and the team of the service I applied to do the intern with. Since I started I have been treated with the upmost respect as a valid team member.
“Right from the off, personal development plans have been implemented, guidelines set and frequent supervisions. The supervisions are a key part of the internship. They provide the opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with both myself and my mentor about how I’m progressing, work on my personal development plan and discuss other matters such as training opportunities to further increase my employability. This professionalism and structure is often missing in voluntary roles
“The team are very understanding with regards to personal issues an example being my arthritis. They help by going through my difficulties and creating solutions and coping strategies. Not only that but all of the staff members have very friendly and eager to help whenever I get stuck or don’t understand something fully.
“I certainly don’t feel that BHT are taking advantage of me or any of the other interns. It’s a reciprocal relationship and the more you put in the more you get out. I’m fully confident that by the time my six months intern is finished, I’ll have a fantastic CV and a great amount of relevant experience to maximise my employability, which is obviously exactly what both parties aim to achieve.”