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Internship – Tom's Story

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Tom started as an intern with The Complete
University Guide and then became a full-time member
of the editorial team

Tom became an intern at The Complete University Guide after graduating from Queen Mary, University of London with a degree in English Language and Linguistics.

Throughout most of my time at school and sixth form, my goal was to become a journalist. This ambition drove me to apply for an English course at university, and while I enjoyed the degree, I quickly realised that journalism wasn't something that I wanted to pursue. Thankfully my passion for the written word remained, and having graduated with a relevant degree under my belt, I set about looking for work in writing.

Delving through thousands of listings in a notoriously competitive industry, I should perhaps have been prepared for the distinct lack of paid opportunities for graduates. Immediately it became apparent that the chances of getting a permanent full-time job were slim to nil, and that internships were the way forward. However even the majority of internships were unpaid, and having accumulated debt at university, this wasn't a viable option.

After several unsuccessful applications elsewhere, I managed to secure an internship with The Complete University Guide (CUG). Being rejected by other companies turned out to be a blessing in disguise, with CUG paying the London living wage to their interns as a matter of principle. I was impressed that, given the website's target market, CUG understood students and graduates need a fair salary too, and I'm told that this was a conscious decision made when the company started employing interns.

I joined CUG at something of a crossroads, and having spent a week at an intimate office with the small but effective team, we moved to the current office in Putney. As part of the acquisition by Hotcourses, we were relocated and joined a much larger workplace. Although this change was initially daunting, I'm happy to report that the new office is an amazing place to work. A significant proportion of the employees here are in their 20s, and even those who aren't are young at heart and always smiling.

One of the perks of CUG joining a larger company is that there's now a greater package of benefits on offer for employees. Each month the company pays for a night of drinks in a local pub, and we're currently in the midst of a year-long team building challenge. To date we've competed to produce the best Dragons' Den pitch to the company big-wigs (with ideas that are now being implemented into the business in real life), and following the latest challenge involving trust exercises, we're all looking forward to the next event!

On the work side of things, no two days are the same. The beauty of this job is that while the range of responsibilities never becomes overwhelming, it does allow you to chop and change to keep yourself engaged. If you've spent the morning working on a subject guide, you can mix it up, take a break and answer some questions from our users. Alternatively you could drive some traffic to the site via social media, with our Facebook, Twitter and, more recently, Instagram accounts all proving to be effective ways of engaging with students past, present and future.

Long term, there's always the opportunity to get your teeth into a bigger project. I've already produced our content on the NHS Bursary and Masters loans, and I'm currently working on setting up content partnerships with other companies. I've also had the opportunity to diversify my skills. Having used Google Analytics to track traffic on the website, and tagged along to sales calls at universities with our talented sales team, I feel that my time at CUG is really helping me to develop in a professional capacity. 

I was fortunate enough to be interning at a time when CUG was in need of a new, permanent writer to join the set up. I was then employed full-time as a Content Producer, and while there's no guarantee that your internship will end up the same way, what's for sure is that spending a few months working for CUG will stand you in good stead for finding employment elsewhere – and it will be fun!