My Intern Experience

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Hi,

I am Ethan, one of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Interns at The University of Gloucestershire (UoG). As I approach the end of my studies and internship, I have been asked to write a blog post on my experience as an EDI Intern. I hope any prospective applicants find this helpful and that it informs their application.

I worked with the EDI and broader Human Resources (HR) Department at UoG in the Laurie Lee Building at Pittville in the academic year 2022/23. The experience was excellent and thought-provoking, particularly regarding including staff and students and the operations of the broader HR function. Any students who are considering an application, particularly those interested in HR or with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), should apply, as the experience has helped me identify the value of my disabilities (Deafness, OCD, and Dyspraxia), improved my perception of the world and helped direct future career pathways into HR.

My degree specialism is in BA Business Management (Hons), with a focus on HR, Operations and Strategy; having studied modules around these fields, becoming a Level-5 Qualified Associate of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and being awarded a Level 5 ‘Management and Leadership’ Diploma by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). After becoming a CIPD Associate, I wanted to gain some real-world HR experience. I found studying the subject less exciting than expected, so I applied when I saw this opportunity on MyGlos. Thankfully, theory and practice are different, and my experience in UoG’s HR Department reflected my expectations of what HR would be like. The HR Department was very welcoming and inclusive, inviting me to team meetings and committees and setting up talks with the heads of each HR specialism in the first few weeks of my internship so I better understood everyone and their roles. Lisa, the EDI Officer at UoG, was incredibly inclusive of me and Avani, my colleague and intern, and Clare, the EDI Manager, gave us the flexibility to carry out our projects around our study.

Regarding my interest in EDI, one of my earliest memories of inclusion, or a lack thereof, is when I was in my second year of secondary school when we had an assembly on using the word ‘gay’ as an insult. At that age, I recognised some individuals I did not realise were gay before the intervention, acting differently afterwards, realising they brought this to the school’s attention. Unfortunately, many students continued to use the term, but I stopped knowing the harm it could cause. I struggled to fit in at school and was often bullied, except for by select friends, and I only found myself coming into my own in my final years at secondary school. Thankfully, I started better understanding myself and the person I wanted to become. However, I realised I am neurodivergent, which I didn’t fully accept until completing this internship. To put a long story short, my differences ultimately led to me being marginalised by my teachers and excluded from my sixth form. Whilst the blame isn’t entirely on the school, this stuck with me, and ever since, I committed myself to always stand up to others and not look the other way because you never know when it might be you. This commitment led to me reading books about religion, genocide, charity, and the difference and privilege of various people of different cultures, heritages, languages, races etc. This interest drove me towards this internship, which I saw as a pivotal part of my future career aspirations and trajectory.

The internship provided me with many professional development opportunities, many of which I still need to remember due to how many were made available by Lisa and Clare. The opportunities that I do remember and that left a meaningful impression on me are listed below:

  • I attended multiple events during Black History Month last year, including an event from the ‘Rum Ambassador’ who recently moved to Cheltenham, where I heard his story about how he entered a predominantly white industry and networked with local Black business leaders.
  • I helped review and project manage UoG’s Athena Swan application, by developing reports outlining UoG’s current provision towards the award and identified that we are closer to applying than we previously thought.
  • I attended a meeting with the LGBTQIA+ Partnership, where I gained greater insight into the LGBTQIA+ activities and support across Gloucestershire, later helping to research the Equality Act (2010) for our recently launched Allyship Pledge for staff members.
  • Finally, I delivered a business report explaining the value of diversity and inclusion to organisational effectiveness, focusing on the disability provisions UoG offers. I hope this will find its way to the Executive Committee for review and consideration after I have finished my internship.

This list is incomplete, and I was privy to HR Team meetings, talks held by industry experts, organisational restructuring and much more.

Still, my studies always came first, and Lisa and Clare supported my aspirations to graduate this year. In the Winter, I struggled with my mental health and well-being (MHW) and ultimately returned to medication. After disclosing this to Lisa, she was incredibly supportive of my need for flexible and agile working around my studies, and after quietly informing Clare, they gave me the room to continue my internship on my terms whilst progressing my studies. It was an experience I had not had in many workplaces before, and I found it incredibly refreshing. I really cannot recommend this internship enough.

And that’s it. This is my final work for the EDI Team, and my EDI Internship has now concluded. This is likely the last piece I will write at UoG: wow…

If you would like to follow me, I am available on LinkedIn at Ethan Forrest | LinkedIn and don’t forget you can follow the EDI Team on Twitter @UoGEquality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *