March 30, 2021, by abrierley

Internship at Pathways Housing Solutions

by Charlotte Allen Geography

At the start of October 2020, I undertook a 10 week placement through the Faculty of Social Science’s placement program at Pathway Housing Solutions.

My role within this organisation was a researcher within the Housing Crisis and Housing Inequality Team. The project’s aim is to provide an analysis of housing needs in the City and the barriers operating in the housing sector. My role was to design a methodology that will uncover ethnic disparities in the housing market within Nottingham. My first task was to understand the makeup of the house market and the policies that defined it and write a literature review. With this in mind I had to generate research questions which would identify ethnic disparities in social housing and the private rented housing sector. Finally, after quality assurance was completed which I carried out with a lecturer from the University of Nottingham, my team compiled our work into a report paired with a presentation in which the next group of interns would use to carry out the research. I felt proud of the work we achieved as it has the potential to change and create better policies to create a housing market with equality at its core.

The two most dominant skills I learnt from the internship was leadership and communication. After being allocated the supervisor role for the team I was in charge of delegating responsibilities between myself and the team,  setting deadlines to ensure the work was completed for the weekly meetings with the director of Pathway Housing solution and acting as the network for potential contacts such as Nottingham city council. The opportunity to manage the team was very key to my personal development as previously I had struggled taking the wheel and having the confidence to make final decisions. My role as a leader also enabled me to develop my professional communication skills as within my role it was my responsibility to build relationships with key contacts. Meanwhile, I had to ensure I was feeding back any progress to my other team members and Intern supervisor.

The main challenge I faced at my internship was time management, as I had to balance my Internship – which was more intense as I was the supervisor of the team – with my degree, part time job in addition to a small research project I was undertaking on the side. So I found it quite difficult at first to adapt to this intense workload, as I wanted to ensure I would perform well at my internship whilst ensuring my academic marks didn’t suffer. To overcome this, I created a detailed time schedule where I made sure I was allocating enough time to each task I had taken on whilst making sure I had a break in the evenings. In addition to this, at the start of each week the team would express if they had a busy or more relaxed week so we could adapt based on this and delegate tasks accordingly.

In addition to this, it was quite challenging to adjust to the virtual environment of the internship, as previously my internships had been in person. And scheduling time to arrange meetings was especially  difficult, as for part of the internship my team-members were working from locations with time-differences.

There are 3 pieces of advice I can give to students considering undertaking a placement in a third-sector organisation:

  • Be confident and take an active role within your internship as this will make a huge difference rather than passively completing the minimum amount of tasks. By showing your supervisor you are willing to go the extra mile it will open up more opportunities. For instance my willingness and strong work ethic was the reason I was allocated the role of supervisor for my team at Pathways Housing Solution.
  • Communication with your supervisor is key especially within a virtual placement as the loss of an office space can lead to miscommunication. So if you have any queries or gaps in understanding of the tasks you have been set it is imperative to have a conversation with your supervisor. As even if you think you are causing an inconvenience for your supervisor it will actually benefit them as in the long-term you will be able to produce better results thus increasing your performance.
  • Take the opportunity. Since I started University in 2018 I made sure I was taking on opportunities to build a strong skill set to pair with my academics to allow me to reach my career aspirations. For example, I took on several Nottingham Advantage Award modules such as the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge and the Boot’s Commercial scheme as well as the Widening Participation Secretary for the Geography Department . And I believe this put me in good stead to be chosen to Intern for Nottingham Citizens, Pathways Housing Solutions and my current Internship at Nottingham County Council.

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