Zayna Ali case study

Knowledge Exchange Internship - Business Researcher at Beechwood Cancer Care Centre
BEng Materials Science and Engineering 


Why did you decide to do a virtual internship?

This opportunity was very different to my degree, so I wanted to learn some new skills and experience work in a different industry. I had done a virtual internship before, so I was happy with working independently and remotely.

What was the application process like?

The application process consisted of a CV and cover letter, along with a video interview with the hiring manager from Beechwood Cancer Care Centre. I really clicked with the manager during the interview stage, and it was one of the main reasons I accepted the offer.

What did your virtual internship involve?

It’s a 55-hour internship and it’s expected you work 6-8 hours a week, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the holiday and do other hobbies alongside this role.

As a business researcher, I work in a team of 2 to research the charity’s current fundraising strategy and suggest recommendations as to how they can improve their current processes, as well as provide new ideas they can implement going forwards. Every fortnight my team has a catch up with Beechwood’s Finance Manager, our supervisor and the retail strategy team so we can feedback what we’ve been doing. We’re currently writing a report and compiling a presentation to present to Beechwood at the end of the internship.

What are the benefits of a virtual internship?

It has made me better at managing my time, as there is no one to prompt me or look over my shoulder to see how I’m getting on! There’s an emphasis on using your own organisation skills to plan when you’ll do certain tasks so you get them done on time.

In your experience what were the drawbacks?

It would’ve been better if I could physically visit the Centre in Stockport and chat to the charity’s team, their volunteers and other supporters. This would’ve allowed me to get a better understanding of the charity’s culture, their donor base and wider environment, which, in turn, I could use to inform some of our recommendations. But with COVID-19, this simply wasn’t possible.

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

Whatever career I end up in, I know I’ve gained some valuable transferable skills that I can mention in any job interview, from organisation, teamwork and commercial awareness.

What are your career ambitions?

Post-graduation I want to pursue a career in chartered accountancy as I can see myself working within business/finance in the future rather than engineering. This internship has improved my commercial awareness as I have learnt about how business is conducted in the charity sector.

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

Go for it! The post-pandemic working world is likely to retain aspects of remote working, so a virtual internship is an excellent way to show employers you’re already prepared to work in this environment.   


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