The intern: five things I’ve learned in my first month at Thwaites

Starting a new job is never easy. Knowing you’ll be the most junior staff member is even more daunting. Cap that off with a suffocating dose of imposter syndrome and you’ve got the trifecta of modern-day anxiety. Despite all of this, I can happily say I’m settling in as intern at Thwaites Communications just fine!

Here are five things I’ve learned in my first four weeks:

1. The smaller the better

“I was given personal attention and a schedule that allowed me to settle in while also helping out in a meaningful way from the get-go.”

Working in a big firm or organisation can quickly become draining. You can feel like a cog in a system that doesn’t even acknowledge your existence. Feeling under-appreciated and unheard is common, which is why the close-knit community at Thwaites is so refreshing.

From the moment I started at Thwaites, I was able to shadow key members of the team, as well as attending meetings with our CEO Emma Thwaites. I was given personal attention and a schedule that allowed me to settle in while also helping out in a meaningful way from the get-go.

2. Take it one step at a time

Thwaites’ biggest strength is its position as one of the only dedicated communications consultancies in the country to focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sector. As interesting as the work is, I’m constantly having to research and learn as my background is very much in humanities, having studied languages and then journalism at university.

Conversely, this is one of my position’s biggest positives. I love that I’m learning new things every day and expanding my horizons in the world of tech. Being an intern is as much a learning experience as it is a traditional job. I’m even able to put my journalistic skills to good use while doing research! Just because a position may seem out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t have to be off limits.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

One of the biggest fears for young professionals is that you will sound silly for asking questions during the initial few weeks. What a ridiculous contradiction that is. When you first arrive and sit in on meetings, the likelihood is that acronyms and in-jokes will be flung out without a second thought and no amount of frantic googling will give you access to the club.

Asking your colleagues for help is the only way you’ll be able to overcome the obstacle of initial bemusement. How else can you learn and grow? My first meeting was about new data regulation laws and I balked at the references to GDPR and the ICO. Four weeks later I hear myself throwing out acronyms like nobody’s business. You just need to bite the bullet and ask. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

4. Variety is the spice of life

Variety really is the spice of life when it comes to the working environment. Traditional jobs often dictate that you must sit at one desk all day long, facing the same wall while doing the same task for hours on end. At Thwaites, every day brings with it a new challenge, and most excitingly a new environment.

It was one of the biggest factors in my application to the company, as routines can cause stagnation whether we realise it or not. Being mobile and working in different surroundings each week brings with it the inspiration that we so badly need to perform at our best. Being excited to go to work is just the start.

5. Agencies are expert jugglers

Perhaps the most interesting thing about working at Thwaites is the variety of projects the company deals with. From getting to grips with data at the Open Data Institute, I’ve been able to work on projects for universities and social impact companies as well. Being versatile is your biggest asset at a small agency as they tend to have a multitude of projects on the go at all times.

Juggling contrasting work and projects is just part and parcel of a small agency, meaning that all employees need to be able to manage their time effectively while working to those ever-tight deadlines. In return you are exposed to an incredible number of new experiences, and I’m very proud to say that I work for Thwaites.

Follow more of my attempts to decode the acronyms on Twitter @AlexVryzakis, and if you’re interested in becoming Thwaites’s newest intern then apply here