I applied for an internship with Suffolk County Council unsure what specific career I wanted, except that it would need to benefit communities and the environment. I immediately recognised this internship would offer invaluable experience of local government, whilst promoting environmental behavioural change following the rise in plastic and waste awareness.
From day one my aim in this internship has been to promote the waste agenda, to ensure waste is increasingly recycled and reduced, which coincides with the values I want in an environmental and community-based career. Having been welcomed by the waste team, my management team provided me with meaningful objectives to deliver the department’s aims of moving waste up the agenda, whilst delivering value from the budget - largely through public engagement. These objectives formed an independent research project of the feasibility and demand for an app, to develop a social media presence and organise a countywide series of roadshows to engage with the public about recycling and reducing waste, to great success. I am currently commissioning funding for, and creating, a training video which has the potential to make substantial savings on crew training costs, reduce contamination at Suffolk’s recycling facilities, and increase public awareness of contamination. Throughout these objectives I had the full support and knowledge of the team to tap into. These objectives not only allowed me to work with the whole department to understand how councils work to deliver statutory EU and UK environmental legislation but have also enabled personal growth and development in areas such as creativity, confidence, and public speaking.
As much as I have supported the waste team to deliver their objectives under increasing pressures of austerity, they endeavoured to offer me opportunities to practically develop risk management which I had conceptually studied at University. This has vastly improved my recruitment opportunities in the risk industry. The team often asked for and incorporated my experiences and knowledge into their emerging new emergency planning documents, so I felt extremely valued. Furthermore, I have begun drafting up a new Risk Register for the department which is aimed to improve upon existing resources and streamline the review process. These risks could cost the department millions or have catastrophic consequences, so it feels amazing to be able to contribute to this work, and my contract has been extended to ensure this is delivered into the management team.
My internship was not the cliched 9-5 office PA style intern job people envisage. My work was meaningful, and I was able to tour state of the art installations, getting out across the beautiful Suffolk countryside, work from home, and even go to Latitude Festival, where I not only enjoyed helping make art with families, but saw some of my favourite bands afterwards!
I would fully advise anyone to apply for a Suffolk County Council internship, regardless of uncertainty about career decisions, as the experience working in local government is enjoyable, flexible, and the skills and knowledge you develop are adaptable to any future employment. They have welcomed me from day one and have provided me with the tools to apply for a fantastic role in Islington Borough Council, which would never have been possible three months ago. Furthermore, the depression I suffer with has lifted and I have not felt this well for several years. I am delighted to commit to a further month to complete a side project I asked to manage and deliver. This experience has also supported my travel to the Russian World Cup, a future visit to Brazil and a US road trip!