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Trinity College Dublin

Student Stories

Other students would love to hear about your summer work experience! Please share with them the skills you learned, any training you received, challenging aspects of your experience and any tips by contacting us at careers@tcd.ie to fill out a 'Student Stories' form.

Student Stories:

 

Work Experience and Internship Reflections:

Research Assistant - Georgetown University
Fellow's Program Intern
Trade Marketing Intern
Volunteer, Thailand

Undergraduate Research Assistant - Harvard
Undergraduate Researcher - Imperial College London

Parliamentary Assistant
Volunteer, India
Undergraduate Researcher, California
Summer Camp Host, Wales
Dietician, Tanzania
Starcamp Leader
Fashion Modelling, Shanghai
Teaching, Ethiopia
Theatre Administrator
Legal Intern
English and Maths Teacher, South Delhi

 

Job Title: Research Assistant
Name: Alexandra Trant
Degree Studying: PPES
Organisation Name: Georgetown University in Washington D.C

Excerpt:

"For the 2014/15 academic year, I was chosen by Trinity to study on exchange at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. For three months last summer, I was a Research Assistant for Professor Irene Jillson in Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. 

... I reported on symphysiotomy in Ireland ... Prof. Jillson had published one of the few studies on the subject. Within a week I had interviewed her for my project. Within a month we were meeting regularly to discuss various topics. Within three months, I was her research assistant.

... This position taught me invaluable skills, especially for my final year. I conducted my research independently, ...I had to adhere to strict deadlines. I found this form of time management ... has been an instrumental skill for planning my dissertation. I have also learned many research techniques, such as analytic and editing skills ... This will also prove advantageous throughout my future career ...

... my high of this experience was the opportunity to contribute to research on a topic I loved. A low was discovering the bureaucracy in academic research, such as overly rigid journal requirements. It did however enlighten my understanding of academic publishing.

For students looking to find a summer internship or work experience, my advice would be to pursue some less conventional routes alongside traditional applications. Don’t be afraid to email a firm with a CV expressing interest, even if there’s no specific job advertised. Similarly, if you know of a Professor who is conducting research on a topic you are intrigued by, get in touch with them. Nothing negative can come from taking a chance."


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Job Title: Fellow's Program Intern
Name: Annabel Pidgeon
Degree Studying: SS PPES
Organisation Name: Kiva

Excerpt:         

"Walking in the front doors of Kiva’s headquarters in San Francisco, amidst the dogs running around an open plan office that’s typical of tech start-ups, posters read “All dreams are created equal, opportunity is not” and “Give a hand up, not a hand out.” These are some guiding principles of ... the online microfinancing platform ... where I spent 5 months interning ...

Kiva is a non-profit MFI that gives 0% interest rate loans to partner MFI’s in 83 countries, and has dispersed $7771,715,500 in crowdfunded loans with a 98.46% repayment rate. It connects lenders with borrowers worldwide ...

... I stumbled upon the application for a Kiva on the site Idealist ... I spent my time as a Fellow’s Program Intern where I reviewed, selected, and trained program applicants, as well as managed current Fellows in the field.

The work I did was enjoyable, but people I encountered are unforgettable. We had  sandwiches in a Vietnamese shop owned by immigrants who fled persecution and took out a Kiva loan for their refrigerator. We heard from a farmer and father who needed a loan to buy a cow, so he could sell its milk and support his family. Every borrower needs ... Someone who would consider their character, not capital.

... The internship gave meaning to development theories I study in class.

...  Kiva illuminated our ability to impact someone’s life around the world, and now I know I won’t be happy unless I do meaningful work for a cause I believe in."


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Job Title: Trade Marketing Intern
Name: Philip Callan
Degree Studying: SS BESS
Organisation Name: AB-InBev

Excerpt:

"Picture the scene:

You arrive on day one, without the slightest idea of what department you’ll be working for, except that they call it ‘the sexiest part of the business.’ Your new boss is a 24 year old high-flier, who played a key role in Budweiser’s FIFA World Cup marketing campaign during his internship only two years previously.

He gets straight to the point. Since he’s already swamped with work, he’s effectively putting you in charge of the company’s brand new Bartender Engagement program, with a starting budget of £50,000 and a launch date of August 10th.

Today’s date?  July 6th.

“Don’t mess it up”

Welcome to AB-InBev, the world’s largest brewer and probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of. This is a business where directors sit next to interns and managers wear shorts to work.

... Personally telling the MD of a company with offices in London, Melbourne and Sydney that his ideas ‘just weren’t right for us’, in my first week on the job, was a surreal moment.

With the agency in place, the project now called ‘The List’ began in earnest.  Every Monday morning I’d take the Tube into ELVIS’ offices to review the progress of the app, which was to be an all-encompassing Facebook-esque app for Bartenders, drawing on what I’d learned in SF Marketing & Strategy.

... With £40,000 spent on the app and reward content, I then had to budget the remaining funds towards our launch event in Mayfair. Senior Freshman Accounting & Finance, thank you dearly!

I finished the final week presenting The List to ABI’s U.K Board of Directors, including a plan to launch the project globally across all ABI’s markets. Suddenly the thought of a college presentation isn’t so intimidating!

My advice for JS Students? Go for companies you haven’t heard of before."


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Job Title: Volunteer - Thailand
Name: Eniola Naheemat Oladiti
Degree Studying: JS General Nursing
Organisation Name: Mutmandek and Healing Family

Excerpt:
"Eight weeks went by so fast (Time really does fly when you’re having fun). My experience in Thailand was nothing but pleasant and mesmerising. My volunteering experience both at Mutmandek and at Healing Family taught me so much and has given me a new insight in ways that I cannot even begin to express myself.

Mutmandek is an orphanage for children with intellectual disability. The love and care the children got from the workers was absolutely phenomenal and to have had the opportunity to witness it and be a part of something so beautiful is something that will definitely stay with me forever.

...I being a fluent English speaker with very little Thai, communicating was surprisingly not an issue. You’d be surprised with how fast hand gesture and facial expression can improve within a short space of time.

...I knew it was definitely possible to achieve more. So two days a week ... I started volunteering at Healing family ... an organisation that provides a day service for adult with intellectual disability ...

My adventure broadened my knowledge and enabled me to meet people from different multi-cultural backgrounds. It helped improve my understanding of theoretical topics discussed in lectures (Jan de Vries teaching of the different types of learning in psychology). This will contribute in helping me to achieve my short and long term career goals, thereby making me a well-rounded nursing professional.

A massive thank you to my sister for suggesting I apply for the EIL youth travel access award winner and to the staff of EIL for seeing me as a potential candidate."


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Job Title: Undergraduate Research Assistant
Name: Robert Conway-Kenny
Degree Studying: Senior Sophister - Chemistry
Organisation Name: Harvard University

Excerpt:
"... Entering college just as the word “recession” was becoming a colloquial phrase, I knew that I would have to emerge from college as an experienced graduate. I appreciated that I would need to fill my CV with skills and qualities relevant to my degree but I also recognized that it would have to be unpaid experience. On starting my JS year, I decided to send individualised emails to every researcher of interest in the top 15 universities in the world to ensure I would gain the experience I would undoubtedly need.

On June 6th 2011, I started as an undergraduate research assistant to Professor Andrew Myers of Harvard University.

Whilst I was given a basic synthetic pathway to follow, I was encouraged to read the literature and alter the pathway for better results. I was thrown in at the deep end, but I rapidly developed the laboratory skills I needed for my future career. I gained experience in every aspect of chemical research and also had the opportunity to present my work, a skill crucial to researchers considering the tremendous recent surge in public interest in science.

The paramount priority of my supervisor was for me to learn the importance of safety in the lab. In an environment where nearly everything is flammable and most things are toxic, safe working practices are essential. I am already reaping the benefits in my final year project, as I was immediately able to hit the ground running which will allow me to produce a comprehensive thesis."

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Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Name: Alison Keating
Degree Studying: Medicinal Chemistry
Organisation Name: Imperial College London

Excerpt:
"... During my work experience in Imperial I learned how to properly research a topic and plan synthetic routes to obtain new molecules. I am currently doing my final year project and these skills, coupled with the laboratory techniques I learned have proved invaluable so far and will continue to be in any future research work I do. I am also a lot more confident in my presentation and public speaking abilities as I had to present my work at weekly group meetings. The project I am currently doing requires me to present my work regularly, and the experience I gained at Imperial has made this much easier. I believe that the skills and experience I acquired at Imperial will serve me well in the future both in my research and during any presentations, interviews, vivas etc. ...

Finally, I was recently informed by Dr. Fuchter, that one of the compounds I synthesised has shown some very interesting properties and, because of this, my work is likely to be published in the near future. I was absolutely delighted when I discovered this; it was the icing on the cake for me and made the 6am starts and seemingly endless Tube journeys worthwhile! "

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Job Title: Parliamentary Assistant
Name: Valeria Pavlovna Egorova
Degree Studying: Business & French
Organisation Name: French National Parliament

Excerpt:
"Last summer I had the opportunity to do a three-month internship in the French National Parliament - the Assemblée Nationale in Paris. I held the position of a parliamentary assistant, which means that I was responsible for helping my French “député” (equivalent of our TD) with his daily tasks. As I have always dreamed of going into politics, I decided to chance my arm and apply directly to the French parliament by sending my CV by e-mail to a few politicians whose political initiatives were of interest to me. A couple of weeks later I was called in for an interview by one of the politicians and was subsequently offered the job ...

... The “high” of my placement was taking part in Parliamentary meetings which were organised to discuss European politics. Although this was the most challenging part of my placement as a lot of research had to be carried out on relevant European issues, it was nevertheless the most interesting part of the experience as I gained an insight into how laws are made at a European Union level."

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Job Title: Volunteer, India
Name: Edel Cronin
Degree Studying: Physiotherapy
Organisation Name: Volunteering for a Non-Governmental Organisation, India

Excerpt:
"A picture speaks a thousand words". I struggle to put into words what the photographs from my summer boast.

What I experienced this summer was poverty, hardship, extreme heat, teaching, learning, inspiration; what I experienced this summer was a wake-up call. I was thousands of miles away, surviving the heat, enjoying the food, attempting the language, wearing the clothes (though not quite working them), loving the country – India! I spent ten weeks teaching children in the slums of Kolkata, volunteering as part of an NGO. My “job” entailed teaching English to children in non-Government schools and in coaching centres, providing extra help for children in these disadvantaged areas.

The adverts we see, the films we watch did not prepare me for the reality of my experience. Nothing readied me for the stories of these children I came to know and love, for the poverty I witnessed first‐hand, for the bonds I formed or for the genuine heartache I felt leaving. It became real, really real!


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Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Name: Kilian Walsh
Degree Studying: Physics with Astrophysics
Organisation Name: California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI), UCSB; funded by Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), DCU.
Organisation Website: www.cnsi.ucla.edu and www.bdi.ie

Excerpt:
My project aimed to measure movements in a protein which is capable of generating energy from light. The process by which it does this is unknown so it was hoped to discover something about the mechanism by measuring the movement associated with it. During the project I first had to obtain sufficient quantities of the right protein. I altered its DNA to test different mutations then used this to grow it in bacteria and then purified it from the bacteria. I then observed the protein using magnetic techniques to see what changes occurred in its structure while shone with a laser.

Because I study physics with astrophysics in Trinity, and there is no biophysics as part of the course, a large part of the subject of my research was completely unknown to me prior to starting it. I had to spend a lot of time learning new things but I was fascinated by all of them. Another challenge was having to present my work, especially to a crowd and I learned a lot from that.

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Job Title: Summer Camp Host
Name: Alanna Beeken
Degree Studying: Drama and English
Organisation Name: Extramural Centre (EMC), Atlantic College, Wales
Organisation Website: www.atlanticcollege.org/extramural-centre

Excerpt:
“Goose!”…for the fourth time in five minutes I leapt from my spot in the circle and jogged slowly after Katie, reaching out to catch her just before she landed safely in my spot.  Katie was a petite 18 year old with long blonde hair and a face, at the moment, smeared with the remains of a face painting session earlier in the day. Katie was a member of a group of teenagers with varying intellectual disabilities, and she couldn’t get enough of “Duck, Duck, Goose”.  In that day alone, I had canoed across a freezing pond in an ill-fitting wetsuit, racing a remarkably fit group of ten year old boys, eaten lunch with four snobby teenagers from Argentina and played the Princess in a ball gown and cardboard crown for an extremely wet session called Castle Adventure.  I was exhausted and my clothes were spattered with a mixture of face paint, sea water and, probably, baked beans, but that moment, watching the faces around me as they patiently accepted another round of a boring game to make the least able member of the group shriek with joy, was the highlight of my summer.

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Job Title: Dietician in Tanzania
Name: Jean Redmond
Degree Studying: Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Organisation Name: Minjeni Women’s Health Organisation

Excerpt:
My time with the organisation also made me reflect on many things about being a dietician that I had never considered before.  How do I begin to educate people that lack a basic knowledge of nutrition which I had always presumed in my patients?  Can I transfer skills that I have gained throughout my Irish education and apply them in a developing country?  The experience of working in the developing world was both challenging and humbling.  In creating information leaflets I had to consider language, appropriate images and content.  I learned how important it is to keep in mind your target audience – they are the ones, after all who will be reading the information.  In training to be a dietician there is a huge focus in patient interaction – and both the language barrier and cultural differences tested my communication skills, which will be crucial to my future career.  Most importantly, I learned that I can adapt to a new and unfamiliar situation and I now know that I will be able to transfer my skills again to a new environment, wherever my career brings me.

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Job Title: Starcamp Leader
Name: Sarah Morrissey
Degree Studying: Drama and Theatre Studies
Organisation Name: Starcamp
Organisation Website: www.starcamp.ie

Excerpt:
Starcamp ran nationwide for five weeks, and I ended in working in a difference location for each one.  From Athlone to Carlow, Cashel to Tullamore, and finally Kilkenny, each week I uprooted and made a new part of the country my home.  This presented me with numerous challenges to overcome.  For one, it’s important when working with children to appear very comfortable and confident, yet to do this with you’re in an unfamiliar place can prove difficult.  Also, I finished work at 2.30 – terrific! – but when you’re staying away from home with people you don’t know too well, this time for “unwinding” can be slightly less relaxing than you might have initially envisioned!  Still, I can sincerely say that the positive aspects of the experience far outweighed the negative.  When a child who thought they hated dancing glides across the stage, beaming, at the end of camp, or when someone who proved difficult to motivate eventually asks you when the next Starcamp will be because they “definitely want to come back!” it becomes evident that your efforts were worth it.

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Job Title: Fashion Modelling, Shanghai
Name: Amy Coghlan
Degree Studying: Business Studies

Excerpt:
My time as a fashion model in Shanghai was exhilarating.  The lessons I learned will enormously benefit me in my final year and job searching activities.  Real world experience will complement my studies.  Interviews will be familiar territory.  I am more aware of what I want in a career and therefore can apply for autonomous yet collaborative positions.  I have further experience of working in a team, moreover, teams with members from all over the world.  Additionally, I can highlight my skills for networking.  All in all, my summer has proved to be a most enjoyable experience, which has awoken my appetite for the real world of work.

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Job Title: Teaching in Ethiopia
Name: Chris Wallace
Degree Studying: Business Studies

Excerpt:
Unlike my American and Irish peers who contrastingly believed that landing an internship and going to Thailand respectively were the only options for the summer months, I took the road less travelled.
The day after hearing my final round interview with an American consulting company was unsuccessful; I came across an e-mail looking for volunteers for a pilot teaching programme in Ethiopia.  My polished resumé was well received and I was soon hurriedly put through training, painful injections and lots of paperwork to ensure that one month later I was standing at the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia six hours behind schedule.  Why might you ask?  I guess it was to recall the beauty of the consulting office in Boston only three weeks ago while staring at the baggage carousel as it gratefully completed its fifteenth lap, yet with no sign of any of my luggage…

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Job Title: Theatre Administrator
Name: Simon Wallace
Degree Studying: Economics and Philosophy

Excerpt:
For a shy Philosophy and Economics student with no interest or ambitions in “show business”, running a theatre school was not what I had expected when my mother told me that she had recommended me for a job, but that was the situation I found myself in.

I was initially quite skeptical, but the job turned out to be a revelation.  I was sole administrator, and so had contact with all different types of people – from students (aged 4 to 18) and their parents, to casting directors, newspapers, accountants and investors.  I had so many different and varied tasks that I was always kept interested and never allowed to fall into routine.

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Job Title: Legal Intern
Name: Michael Moran
Degree Studying: Law
Organisations:

Arthur Cox and Matheson Ormsby Prentice in Dublin
Herbert Smith in London
Gleiss Lutz in Berlin

Excerpt:
It was the summer before my final year of law studies at Trinity College and I was already finding myself going through this interview era.  It didn’t take me long to realise how important it is to be able to discuss prior work experience in legally orientated interviews.  To this end, I was proud that I still retained my summer job, acquired in transition year at school. Yet I found it increasingly difficult to explain to interviewers how selling plants in a local garden centre advanced my legal competencies and prepared me for a life in a dynamic legal environment!  Thus, I resolved that it was time to depart from the horticulture industry and to obtain some new experience in the field of law.

Several letters, phone calls and application forms later, my summer was planned.  With internships lined up in law firms Arthur Cox and Matheson Ormsby Prentice in Dublin, Herbert Smith in London and Gleiss Lutz in Berlin, it seemed like I was finally on track to gain some solid legal work experience.  Indeed, it also seemed that with this medley of work placements ahead, my summer would last forever.  Alas, it has already come and gone and it’s now time to assess what was involved, what was learned and how I benefited.

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Job Title: English and Maths Teacher, South Delhi
Name: Kevin Cunningham
Degree Studying: Management Science and Information Systems Studies (MSISS)

Excerpt:
My summer work experience involved travelling to a “developing” country and teaching disadvantaged children.  I taught English and Maths to children in a slum in South Delhi.

I was overwhelmed by the poverty.  Especially as India was a country that I understood to be “Challenging China” in terms of economic development – according to the Economist.  I discovered that over half the children in India do not receive any formal education and that over three hundred million people live below the poverty line.

It was an emotional rollercoaster.  Most of the time I made a complete fool of myself. Budh Bazaar had never seen the sight of white people living and working amongst them, never mind the likes of a lanky red-haired “Management Scientist”.  I enjoyed the teaching so much.  Inventing educational games and watching the children learn from them.  It was a very rewarding experience. Watching the class size double over the course of my ten and a half weeks and how the kids would be so happy to see you every morning.

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I was with you for a mock interview last Monday nor a speech and language therapy position. I just wanted to let you know i got the job. I am delighted. I really felt the mock interview helped me so much.

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