Just had a look at some blogs posted by previous charity insight participants, they are so amazing! Informative, interesting and full of fantastic photos! However, few of the posts have mentioned about the application process of the charity insight programme, which is useful information, and will be the starting point of my blog.
Why did I desperately want to participate the charity insight programme?
I have never had a proper job before, so I am always hoping to gain some working experience to get to know the outside world, and contribute what I have learned in the university to the real community. Also, as a PhD student, I have been always focusing on the specific and deep research field, and I realized that I need a way out for fresh air, and for fun.
For time constraints, it is much difficult for PhD students to gain an internship opportunity. Not like undergraduates, PhD students only have 4-week annual leaving holidays each year, while companies/organisations usually offer internships lasting at least three months for students, rather than short-time such as one month duration, for it takes their costs to train apprentice. Thus there are more barriers to get an official internship opportunity from companies/organisations as a PhD student.
The charity insight programme launched by career center in Imperial College makes it easier to find a host for short-time internship by providing a bursary to students, which reduces the costs from the organisations, and provides a valuable chance to students (especially for PhD students).
How did I find a charity organisation?
Thanks to career center, Amy-a very helpful and considerate career consultant has helped me a lot in finding a charity organisation. She not only provided information about organisations that previous students had worked for, but also told me some valuable charity websites to hunt for charity organisations. Since my PhD is on vascular science, I am willing to work for a health care related organisation. From the blogs posted on the career center website, I learnt about a charity organisation-George Institute for Global Health which would enable me work on real trials. Even better, I found a very interesting project which was related to vascular science, but was very distinct from my current PhD study, so it would provide me a good chance to work on the same field but from a very different perspective.
How did I approach it?
Yasmina-another excellent career consultant spent much effort on my CV and cover letter correction. Then Amy gave me the contact details from previous programme participants who had ever worked for the George Institute, and she helped me polish my email approaching to the organisation. After several emails, I successfully got the internship opportunity.
How about visa issues related to international PhD students working?
As an international student, we have strict visa rule that we can only work within 20 hours per week during the study. On this condition, I contacted international office in Imperial College, and was informed that PhD students were allowed to use annual leaving entitlement to work full time with a permission letter from their supervisor, which was definitely great news for me. Thanks to my supervisor’s support, I got his permission and working allowance during my annual leaving holidays.
I really appreciate all the help from career center and also all the other people who have given me a hand during the application process, and I will definitely cherish this opportunity to gain a wonderful internship experience.