Life in the Day of our Summer Interns
|Get the train||7:30am|
Gemma and Sophia are interning at Coulter Partners for 8 weeks this summer. They present a typical day in the life of an intern and talk about their background and experience at Coulter Partners.
G: So, why did you decide to do an internship this summer?
S: I’m still at university at the moment and going into my third year and I wanted to do an internship to experience what it’s like to work full time. I hope that it will also help with my module choices for next year and with deciding what to do after university. I’m studying Arts and Sciences, which is a broad course, where I can choose most of my modules. My university UCL is very close to the office so the location is also very convenient for me as I live quite close by.
G: That’s quite similar to me. I have just finished university, having studied English, and I graduated not knowing what career path I wanted to pursue. I decided that I should get some short-term work, particularly office-based work because I thought it was an important environment to experience. As there’s not a straightforward career path with an English degree, I also wanted to do an internship in order to get a taster of different possible professions so that I could learn a variety of new skills without committing to anything permanent.
Why did you decide on Arts and Sciences?
S: I realised that I wanted to study more than just one thing and combine the different things I was interested in. Initially I wanted to study Psychology and Computer Science, so I mainly took Psychology modules and modules that involved working with data and computers. The course has only been running at UCL for a few years and is based on the idea that it is rarely enough to look at things from one perspective. Often when working on a project or solving a specific problem, it is necessary to consider different disciplines, for example an ‘art’ and a ‘science’.
I was glad to see a connection between the arts and sciences throughout the work at Coulter Partners. In addition to scientific expertise, there are many other skills such as communication and language skills that are really important when, for example, communicating with clients, and candidates or when writing job descriptions and reports.
How are you finding the work as it’s so different from what you studied?
G: I’m enjoying doing something that’s completely new to me but am also pleased many of the skills I developed at university have been put to good use at Coulter Partners. You wouldn’t automatically assume that an arts degree would have much use in a life sciences executive search company but the significant emphasis on research in my degree translated very easily to this internship. I’ve found that scientific knowledge is just one part of the job; interpersonal abilities, problem solving, and creativity are equally as important. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t understand the ins-and-outs of the industry but the training we were given at the beginning of the internship was really useful in helping me get to grips with both recruitment and life sciences. You learn the key terminology and protocol very quickly after a few days immersed in the database.
S: Yes, that’s true. I thought it was interesting to hear how the recruitment process works and what the researchers and consultants have to consider when finding candidates for a position. Another thing that I found interesting was to see how the company uses technology to communicate more effectively. As Coulter Partners is a global organisation and has offices in Europe and the US, the use of Skype for Business, Yammer, and the Outlook calendar greatly facilitates the team work. In my first week I, for example, met the people from the office in Frankfurt over Skype to work on a mapping project which I mentioned on the timeline. This was great as I could use my knowledge in German when researching the companies.
G: I’ve been working mostly with the London office but it’s great to know that everyone’s in reach. I think it’s really good that we can play to our strengths: your language skills have come in really useful and I’ve been able to use my editing and research abilities as well. In the last couple of weeks of the internship, I’ve had the chance to learn about the marketing side of the business, having a look at the interviews conducted for the online Coulter:Pulse digital health feature and feeding back my thoughts. I enjoyed the variety of the tasks given to us; from data input to research to marketing, it was great to experience lots of different job responsibilities.
S: I also found learning and experiencing new things really great about the internship such as getting used to sending emails, working independently, and asking for help or feedback. My favourite thing that I got to do was the data visualization project because I learned about a new data visualisation software which I think will also be really useful for any future projects. I also loved the park opposite of the office which is great to have lunch in.
G: I agree. I really liked the fact that Coulter Partners gave us the freedom to work independently but were also always there when we needed assistance or just someone to talk things over with. You get the feeling that you are a part of the team and I really appreciated it when people took the time to teach us about aspects of the business I had never considered before. By learning about things like the executive search process, psychometric assessments, and what new life science trends are emerging, I was able to understand an industry I knew nothing about a lot more clearly.
What are your plans for the future?
S: I haven’t decided what I want to do after university but I’m still interested in working with data. Since my degree is so broad, I think I would like to do a Master’s degree to specialize a bit more in one area. I think it would also be great to do more internships after university, to get to know different companies and jobs and get a greater insight into different career paths. I would also love to travel for a while after finishing university.
G: Likewise, I’m still unsure of what career path I want to take. I would ideally like to do something related to literature such as working in the publishing industry as it feels like a natural fit with my degree but this internship experience has taught me that I don’t need to be so narrow in my job search. Coulter Partners has been very generous to me in asking me to stay on and work at the company whilst I figure out my next move. I will be taking on some project administration responsibilities in addition to database work and am excited to try something new.
Business today is an ever changing environment and we need to make sure we are at the cutting edge of technology for the benefit of both candidates and our valued clients. Sophia and Gemma have brought a fresh pair of eyes to our internal database, new perspectives on how we can improve our systems and have also helped refresh our ever growing networks. They have added value and quality to our mapping strategies for talent internationally.