Eloise Watkin case study

Knowledge Exchange Internship - Business Fundraising Research Intern at Beechwood Cancer Care
BSc Biomedical Science, 2021
MPH Master of Public Health

""What kind of internship did you do and with what employer?

I undertook a Knowledge Exchange Internship with Beechwood Cancer Care, where I worked as a Business Fundraising Research Intern, aiming to research and produce a report to help adapt the charities fundraising. Beechwood Cancer Care support not only the person with the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness but also families, friends, and carers of all ages from diagnosis and moving on, to treatment and bereavement. 

Why did you decide to do a virtual internship?

I decided to do a virtual internship because of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19; I was not sure if I would be in my hometown or at university during the summer, so I did not want to apply for in person work. I also wanted to be able to balance my internship with my final assessments and other summer commitments. 

What was the application process like?

To apply I submitted a CV and cover letter and was then selected for an interview. I think the most important part of this process was to show my interest and passion for the charity and position. I also ensured to show examples in my CV and cover letter of how I met the skills included in the person specification of the job description. 

What did your virtual internship involve?

The internship was 55 hours, spread flexibly over around 8 weeks. The aim of my internship was to produce a report to develop the fundraising strategy of Beechwood Cancer Care. I worked in a pair, splitting the research, and working together to produce the final report. This included our findings and recommendations to improve the fundraising at Beechwood and outlined ideas for possible events. I focussed my research on the impact of COVID-19 on fundraising, online fundraising, and the strategies of competitors. I used this and other research to evaluate and suggest improvements to the existing strategy of Beechwood Cancer Care. I therefore spent most of my time researching and writing but also had meetings with my fellow interns to discuss splitting the work and our ideas.

We also worked in parallel with two interns from Keele University who were focussed on the retail strategy. We had fortnightly meetings with them and their supervisor to share updates and any questions. In some of these meeting there was also a representative from Beechwood Cancer Care to answer any Beechwood specific questions, for example insights about their previous fundraising events. 

What are the benefits of a virtual internship?

A virtual internship is very flexible as I was able to schedule my hours to suit me; my only commitments were to ensure I attended any meetings and completed my hours. Being virtual also meant that my internship was resilient to any possible problems due to COVID-19, such as isolation. 

In your experience what were the drawbacks?

Being virtual meant it was harder to understand the impact of the charity, competition in the area and possible events as I was not able to visit the charity or the area. Also, being virtual can make teamwork and sharing ideas more of a challenge as you have to ensure to organise meetings rather than rely on ‘bumping into’ others. 

What three qualities make a successful virtual intern?

I think time management and motivation are important as working virtually means work is mostly self-directed and independent, with no set time to have to be in an office. For example, I decided how to schedule my hours and specific things to research. However, teamwork is also important when working virtually to ensure communication with other interns, for example splitting the research. 

How will your virtual internship help your studies or your career?

This internship provided direct sector knowledge about fundraising - useful if I pursue a career in the charity sector. However, benefits of this internship are not limited to the charity sector because it helped to develop and show skills which are transferable to any career or study.

What are your career ambitions?

Currently, I do not have any specific career ambitions; I think I would like to work in the public sector or charity. Therefore, this internship was perfect for me to gain experience in the charity sector to build my skills, sector knowledge and help to decide if I would like to pursue a career in this area. Also, if I decide on a more science focussed career, the skills such as teamwork, resilience, and critical thinking I have gained through this internship are still important for these roles. 

What advice can you give to others considering a virtual internship?

I would say have the confidence to apply and don’t let self-doubt stop you, I almost did not apply for this internship as I thought I would not get it because my degree is not in this field. However, in the application I focused on the experience and transferable skills I have developed through my degree and volunteering. So go for it and gain experience! 



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