Internship – Connor's story

Connor is going to study English at the University of Exeter. He worked as a student blogger with the Complete University Guide and then secured two weeks of content writing work experience.

Connor Gormley Small

In a lot of ways, my internship started in a deserted sixth form study room. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I’d been writing out an essay since the end of my last lesson, an hour and a half earlier. By this point words had stopped having any real sense of meaning. I’d written the phrase ‘The American Constitution’ so often it seemed less like language and more like the series of symbols that appeared onscreen whenever I played with the keyboard.

Needing a break, I stood up and caught sight of a poster for the Complete University Guide; it was a league table, of the kind I’d been using to inform my UCAS application. Though it was helpful, I’d seen it before, so it wasn’t especially surprising until I saw the note in the corner; ‘we’re looking for student bloggers’, it said and, below it, was a contact email.  

I looked down at myself, at the stack of books next to the computer, and then at the computer itself, at the half-typed essay flickering onscreen. ‘I’m a student’ I thought, ‘I could blog.’

Though I didn’t stop whinging about having to write them, I could do words. In fact, I secretly really loved doing words. More than that, I quite liked the idea of having a platform on which I could whinge about being a student, of standing up on some digital soap-box and getting to talk about all the things I thought were important. So, that evening, when I got home, I wrote out an email asking what I’d have to do and how often. I got a reply the next day; five hundred words every month or so about my place in the university application process, about how I was doing, how I was getting ready and what I was up to. I had to send off a three hundred introductory piece which, if it was good enough, I could then expand out into five hundred words and see published. Brilliant!

I did exactly that and continued to do it every month throughout my time at sixth form, thinking about what information and what narratives might be helpful for students in my position. Thinking about both what mattered to me and what mattered to all of my friends, and trying to write stuff that was as helpful and as honest and as attuned to the giddy anxiety of pre-university life as I could.

I really enjoyed it. Though I spent most of my time writing anyway, it was nice to have an outlet, and to get the chance to exercise a slightly different part of my writerly brain, not just for me, but for what seemed like an audience. It was exciting stuff.

So, when the Complete University Guide gave me the chance to take on two weeks of work experience in August, I leapt at the chance. It was a content writing position; I’d be smashing out newsletters, researching, editing and penning articles, and throwing it all up on the website for the audience’s perusal. I’d get a sense for how to adjust to a house style, how to cater content to a readership and how to convey necessary information quickly, easily and in a manner that people found engaging.

A day in the London office aside, I’d be working at home, which was something of a challenge, if only because tea and biscuits are a sort of omnipresent temptation, but I managed to work around it. Despite that distance, I had a consistent, workable sense of what I was supposed to be doing, how to do it, and what my doing it actually meant. I wound up not only editing articles and jazzing up copy, but re-designing landing pages and learning how to schedule posts on social media; it was a learning experience, and an awful, awful lot of fun.

Now, I get to head off to university with a suite of new skills and the experience I’ll need to bag some more writerly internships a little later down the line. I can’t thank the Complete University Guide enough for the opportunity and the experience.     

Read more of Connor's work over at his student blog.