Holly Hughes case study

Intern at Kids Club Kampala
MSc International Development, 2020

""What does your role involve? How did you find it? 

I have recently completed a 6 month Internship with Kids Club Kampala (NGO). I found out about this internship by doing some research for my dissertation project which was eventually titled 'An exploration into how housing is owned, used, and capitalised upon by the urban poor living in informal settlements of Kampala, Uganda'.

I had planned to carry out dissertation fieldwork in Uganda but had never taken a trip like this before and so wanted to find an organisation that was based there to help accompany my trip. This is when I came across Kids Club Kampala, who work with the slum communities in Kampala. I saw on their website that as well as volunteering opportunities abroad, they also offered UK Office Internships.

I decided to send a speculative email about going out to Uganda with them as part of my dissertation project and also enquired about their UK Office Internships which were conveniently based in Birmingham. When the UK lockdown came into place for COVID-19, I was not able to undertake any fieldwork and was also placed on furlough by my part-time workplace meaning I had lots of time on my hands.

That is when I decided to dedicate 16 hours a week, voluntarily to Kids Club Kampala on an on-going internship which lasted 6 months. 

Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University? 

Before my Master’s degree at University of Birmingham I had started to create a broad picture of what I wanted to do. I decided that I did not want to get a graduate job just yet and wanted to spend the year developing my knowledge in International Development and undertaking more extra-curricular or work experience activities that would better equip me for securing employment. I knew that I wanted to work in a role related to policy, sustainability or international development. 

Did you have any work experience before your graduated?

I only had work experience in the hospitality sector as a Bar Staff team member. This of course gave me lots of transferable soft skills which are really important but prior to my internship I had not done anything so close to what I want to do for my career. 

What do you love most about your role?

What I loved most about Kids Club Kampala was the small close-knit team who were always happy to help me develop my skills in administration, communications and fundraising. 

What is most challenging about your role? Have you faced any challenges during your career journey? 

Everything was very new but the team were really helpful and I soon got to grips with anything. Doing 9-5 was also a shock to the system! 

After completing my Internship with Kids Club Kampala I put all the extra time I had to applying for full time graduate and entry level roles. Right now we are in unprecedented and difficult times and so I have not experienced tons of luck.

However, I can see the value in Internships especially those that are part-time meaning you can still fit them around your studies or other part-time student jobs. My positive experience as an Intern has led to me landing another role as a Fundraising Officer (Intern) at FEAST! With Us, a London based charity. 

How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?

I am particularly fond of the University of Birmingham online CV checker. It is really easy to use. Careers Network are also really helpful, I attended a few appointments this year both in person and on Zoom and they know the steps you can take to reach your goals. 

What are your career plans for the future?

I am still applying to roles in the charity sector in fundraising and communications as well as roles in policy and sustainability in the public and private sectors. I am very open-minded to explore different avenues. I currently run an environmental action campaign called Sustainable Water Use Birmingham, which helps everyone, everywhere become more conscious about their water use and take steps to reduce it so perhaps that could be more established one day as an NGO or environmental consultancy. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in getting into your industry or role?

Volunteer. Blog. Be an Intern. All of these activities will show you real passion and commitment to the issues and industry!

Do not be disheartened, the perfect opportunity for you will come along. Of course there are steps to take to make it happen but when you have done that just keep trying and applying!


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