Blog post

Internship helped build my portfolio - and my confidence

After the first year of her degree, Event Management student Kayleigh Ayriss took an internship over the summer as Event Co-ordinator at Foundations UK, based in Glossop, through the University of Derby's DRIVEN programme. Her role took her to the heart of Westminster.

By Kayleigh Ayriss - 24 February 2020

Standing out

I want to stand out as a higher education student and my goal is to delve into various areas of the events sector. Being the ambitious individual that I am, I did my research. I couldn't wait to explore what companies the University had connections with.

This led me to the DRIVEN scheme. This University of Derby programme allows SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to hire students and graduates to gain practical experience in their chosen sector, alongside developing their personal talent. This is how I landed an internship at Foundations UK.

Foundations UK is the National body for Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs). It hosts an annual awards ceremony for the top HIAs in the UK. As part of my role, I was privileged enough to support the 2019 awards held at Central Hall, Westminster.

Without taking on board this supportive role in member recognition, I wouldn't have learned the gratitude awards ceremonies bring to both delegate and partner. This shows the University has many facets and avenues you can take to build up your portfolio.

What the role involved

As an Event Co-ordinator, I was involved in tasks such as producing printed materials, designing certificates, emailing shortlisted entries, researching and purchasing decorations and writing briefs for the finalists - later printed as a booklet.

The flexibility of this internship allowed me the opportunity to work from home and in the open office if preferred. For the lead-up to the event, I worked with the team face-to-face as manual work was required. On the day, I assisted in welcoming and networking with guests.

As guests sat down, I supported with filming and photography for the post-event social media accounts. All of this has wholeheartedly boosted my confidence in not only planning for an admirable event but also showing me what I am capable of.

What I learned

Throughout the three-month internship, I learned how important it is to be open to exploring different sectors, to help you gain a good idea of the direction you'd like to take in your career.

With a degree in Event Management, there are lots of opportunities, from weddings to corporate events to product launches. In this case, the awards ceremony expanded my understanding of just how vast this industry is and where I could go.

I would say the highlight of the whole experience was the placement itself. I appreciate the efforts of Ben Offord, Work Placement and Employability Officer with the University's Careers and Employment Service, for our one-to-one meetings. His guidance on job searching using my preferences (location, hours) and notifying me of the careers page, enabled me to find DRIVEN.

And you never know what could ignite your passion or creativity. I hadn't considered working in the home improvement agency sector before but I am glad I was open to taking on this internship.

The challenges

As Foundations UK is not an events management company, I was challenged in some ways. I had to learn about housing and what the company stands for and what it does for the community.

It took most of the internship to comprehend what the employees were working towards - or acronyms such as HIACM (Home Improvement Agency Case Manager) or FILT (Foundations Independent Living Trust). This is where my studies were useful in placing knowledge into real terms but also my personal perceptions of how the company operates.

Self-development wise, I can see a difference in my confidence in how I am in the workplace and outside. I would like to thank the Foundations UK team in building my journey of a working portfolio.

About the author

Kayleigh Ayriss
University of Derby student

Compassionate individual, looking into the realm of social entrepreneurship. I am organised and efficient in my work, whether it is education, employment or personal life. Seeking out many opportunities to travel and expand horizons, learning new cultures and ways of living.