Find out about Sangita's experience on the Santander Universities SME Internship Programme.

Published Monday, 11th November, 2019 in Student successes

Here at City, we receive lots of great benefits from our close partnership with Santander, including funding to match SME employers with our graduates and to create paid internships.

One of the key benefits is the Santander Universities SME Internship Programme, an entrepreneurial internship programme that provides students and recent graduates paid work experience with local businesses.

We've spoken to some of our City students to find out how they benefited from the programme - here's the first in the series from Sangita Bhalla.

Sangita received her BSc Psychology here at Cityand is currently studying for an MSc Organisational Psychology. For her internship, she was a Clinical Research Intern at Digital Therapeutics.

Why did you apply for a SME Internship through City, University of London?

At the time, I had not completely decided what path I wanted to take after graduation. I recognised how valuable experience in a field relevant to your career-path was. I had a few rough ideas of what career paths I could follow, but no idea how to get there with the experience I had.

Regardless of what path I took following graduation, I knew completing an internship would serve as nothing but an advantage to me. I wanted a short-term placement where I could gain an insight into a job role relevant to my subject area. Applying online directly through companies proved to be overly competitive, but I noted there was also a heavy bias towards those with the relevant experience. I wanted to be given the chance to express who I am and what I have to offer verbally, and therefore attract employers this way.

Applying for a SME Internship through City University via the GradVantage scheme meant I was able to prepare myself for the graduate recruitment process I would eventually face. Being able to make myself more employable and then receiving the chance to attend a speed recruitment day where I may possibly receive an internship served as a huge reason for applying.

Tell us about your internship? What were you doing and where were you working?

My internship placement was as a Clinical Researcher at Digital Therapeutics. The research trial I worked on tested the efficacy of a novel digital health intervention for smoking cessation.  As a psychology student who has learnt about various clinical trials, to be a researcher within a trial was a role I never thought I would have.

Initially, I received a vast amount of training and qualifications from the role (including my Good Clinical Practice Certificate). Following the training, my responsibilities included the recruitment of participants, the collection of data and the drafting of various standard operating procedures. I learnt so much about what it is like to be in a professional working environment and have received many opportunities within the role including training for coaching using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy by a clinical psychologist.

How has this role helped you?

This role was something I initially never imagined doing or even something I thought I would have enjoyed. Partaking in this internship allowed me to gain a clearer idea of what my own interests are, but also opened more doors academically, professionally and personally.

Having an internship which I loved as much as I did meant I looked forward to coming into work. The company ethos was one which promoted positivity, with one of the meetings on Mondays being a reflective time where we all shared what the best thing about last week was. My colleagues have become people who I consider my close friends- with me even attending my managers wedding this summer!

I have been given so many opportunities to strengthen my skills and gain new ones within this role, from being able to take over all aspects of the trial to receiving a further job role of providing online coaching for clients to assist them with their smoking cessation.

What skills has your role through the scheme given you?

I have learnt a variety of transferable skills that will assist me no matter what I do in the future. I believe my confidence within myself has increased immensely. I started as a graduate who felt overwhelmed and underqualified, to now where I feel like a young working professional who can handle pressure and is strengthening and applying all the skills I had once learnt about at university.

Working alongside doctors, psychologists and clinical researchers, I established a successful and professional network with whom I will definitely keep in contact with. Working with technology on a daily basis has taught me so much about trouble-shooting and problem solving. I now have the confidence within myself to solve many problems myself before ever needing to contact my seniors. Alongside this, I have learnt the value of being attentive to detail, especially in relation to data collection. Holding so many responsibilities and always having to stay on top of my work has made me much more organised, but also taught me I can handle a heavy workload.

If you could give a student thinking of doing an internship one piece of advice, what would it be?

Regardless of whether or not you know what you’re doing after graduation, it is definitely worth applying. Even if you know, your plans might change! Experience is integral to knowing what you like and what you don’t like. Whatever internship you end up in, there are so many things you will learn which will always be applicable to whatever path you choose. An internship serves as nothing but an advantage to you.

What are you doing now?

At present, I am a full-time student of the MSc Organisational Psychology programme at City, University of London. I am still completing my internship programme at Digital Therapeutics. Following its completion, I will hold a part-time role as a Clinical Researcher throughout my studies with the company. I am looking forward to the future and I am beyond grateful for my internship.