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Santander Internship contributing on youth development in the UK

Bereket Tsegay made an internship with us through the Santandar Internship of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His reflection follows: 

Job title & Organisation
Climate Resilient Strategy Developer, PENHA

What skills were you hoping to develop?
To enhance my analytical and academic research skills and to boost my communication skills through working in multi-national context and expanding my professional networks.

What skills do you feel you did develop?  
During the internship period I was able to analyse and reflect the complex issue of climate change in the context of the Horn of Africa region and design a strategy where the charity will able to adopt it. My teamwork culture was enhanced, as the working atmosphere at PENHA is very welcoming.

Would you like to pursue a career in the same field as your internship?  Why or why not?
Yes I do like. The field I engaged with during the internship was very relevant to my PhD studies of the Green Economy in the Sub-Saharan Africa context. This complements the work I am doing in the academic as well as professional world.  That is, the environmental and climate change issues and the appropriate mechanisms to be taken have been my main focus areas of my expertise and will also continue to be.

Were you offered further employment with the company?
As a result of the internship and hence the close interpersonal and profesional relationship developed, I was able to get my internship extended for a further of three months with the organisation. Moreover, I am expecting to be offered a part-time job soon.

What aspects of your internship did you find most beneficial/most enjoy?
Firstly, I liked the scheme as it supports my interests as a postgraduate student as well as the hosting organisation.  Secondly, it creates a way for me to engage with the theory-practice aspects or practice what I am engaged in developing my conceptual framework that reflects the Horn of Africa context. Thirdly, since it was a paid internship, I was able to gain financial support.  Finally, I was most beneficial in exercising my knowledge and practices as well as in expanding my professional network.

What aspects of your internship did you find least beneficial/least enjoy?
None.

How has your internship enabled you to improve your employability?
The internship gave contributed in creating good opportunity to the host institution to know my potential contribution and expand for further engagement. Additionally, it is worth to mention it also contributed in expanding my professional network sphere.  

Additional Information
I strongly believe my engagement with the Santander Internship has contributed a lot towards both my professional growth and also bringing genuine impact on the side of the service users. Besides the role I played in shaping the Charity's long-term climate change strategy development process, there were actual results brought as a result of my placement. It was fascinating experience working within the area of my interest as well as my expertise. This boosted my moral to be a showcase to the employer and the communities who benefit from the organisation. This enhanced my research skill and my knowledge on the Climate Change issues. After all it was a pleasure to see myself producing very tangible results which made the other staff to have trust on me.

In conclusion, I see this as a wonderful opportunity given by the SOAS Santander Internship scheme as an entry point to interact in wider professional domain and expand the professional networking. Thankful to SOAS for bringing this scheme which helped me to achieve a lot within my internship stay with PENHA.

Bereket Tsegay is a PhD Candidate in Development Studies at the SOAS, University of London.