Elliot McDowell

Impact Internship at CoachBright 
BA Modern Languages, 2019
MA Sociology, 2021

Tell us a bit about your internship.

Hi, I’m Elliot. I studied at University of Birmingham twice, once as an undergraduate studying Modern Languages and then again doing a Masters in Sociology. So, my internship that I did was an Impact Internship, and I secured a role with CoachBright, a social mobility organization that aim to reduce educational inequality by getting university students trained as academic coaches and going into local schools and helping pupils that need extra support.

I really enjoyed the role, I'll talk more about that in the other videos, but my main responsibility was delivering an online program of coaching for several schools in the Camden area over the course of summer 2020.

What made you want to apply for the internship?

First off I knew already the variety of internships that University of Birmingham offered. I’d already done an Impact Internship the summer before helping deliver a European theatre festival called beef festival which I really really enjoyed. When I was applying in the summer 2020, I was about to do an MA in Sociology and I was starting to get a sense that I was interested in social mobility and kind of reducing inequality and so CoachBright was exactly the kind of thing that I was interested in.

Also, this was around the time you might remember with the exam results fiasco and that really made me quite angry and so I thought CoachBright was kind of a good place to go to think about that really.  So I applied for CoachBright amongst others, you know there wasn't the only one I applied for, I was fortunate enough to get it. But I knew that I wanted to do something that was kind of people focused and CoachBright was very much the right internship for me in terms of that.

What did you gain from the internship?

Well there were a lot of skills that I managed to hone. It was my job mainly to deliver this online program and so it required a lot of organizational skills, a lot of liaising to be honest you know with a lot of different parties, with school pupils, with university students as coaches, with their parents as well, and teachers so I had to juggle a lot and got a lot better at that as the internship progressed.

It was my job to write a newsletter so I sort of learned and improved how to draft it, how to write it, how to send it out. It was a big audience, about a thousand people, so there are a lot of different skills that I felt that I got better at because of the internship. It really helped as well in improving my professional network in that I now work for the organization full-time and I think I’d be naive to say that my experience with them doing the Impact Internship didn't help my application, I think it really did. So yeah, that was a big plus. 

Have you got any advice for people who want to apply for work or internships?

Yeah absolutely, first off, I’d say use the Careers Network resources. They've got a lot of information on their website and also I made use of, a few times actually, one-to-one sessions to discuss whatever I wanted really in terms of my career. I found it very helpful when thinking about what I was going to apply for kind of like working that out really. So definitely use them.

The second one would be do your research. So look at the organizations that you want to apply for and learn as much as you can about them. This isn't just to like impress them, make it seem like you know what you know they do, it's also to make sure that you feel like you'd be the right fit for them, because remember it's not just about you making yourself look as good as you can for them. It's also like are they going to be a good fit for you.

So do you research and then, I think like apply for a few different things, a few different internships, unless there's like a cap or anything. But I’d say like I applied for a fair few Impact Internships and I’m glad I did it because it meant that I felt like I didn't just have more my eggs in one basket. So I’d say like if you can, apply to a few different things, don't just put everything on one.


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