As Living Wage Week begins, one of Freshwater’s new interns, Amy Wallace, writes about what she’s learnt in her first six weeks on the job and why a paid internship is unlocking her potential…
Finishing university is an exciting but somewhat stressful time for any graduate; the joy and adulation is often swiftly replaced with ‘the fear’. Having experienced fast-paced London life while studying at King’s College London, my heart was firmly set on staying in the capital – but there was just one, rather large, problem - I had to factor in how I could afford to do so.
My job search presented me with a sea of ‘expenses only’ and ‘unpaid’ internship opportunities, which, even with another weekend job, were entirely unfeasible. My family live in Devon and, like most people under 25 in the UK, I don’t have a savings account that could support me for a year in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I could see my aspirations of nurturing a career in London, and my morale, disappearing fast.
When I received my offer of employment from Freshwater confirming a year-long internship as a Healthcare Account Assistant, I was flooded with emotion – including relief that the position pays more than the London Living Wage. I would actually be able to work at a successful agency in London and afford to live!
Expectedly, I was nervous on my first day, but was greeted by a friendly bunch in a slick office in Farringdon where I immediately felt part of the team. I got the impression that I had joined a passionate, knowledgeable and upbeat company and have since been proved right.
In my first six weeks I have received training sessions on public affairs communications, the fundamentals of public relations and reputation management, as well as how to effectively communicate in challenging healthcare contexts. I’ve attended external industry training events on social media and crisis management, and been to a Health Select Committee hearing. Every day has been different; sometimes I conduct political research and mapping for NHS Trusts while other days see me attend photo shoots for major, national healthcare projects.
I’m also aware that, when compared to my peers in internship roles, I’ve been given real responsibility and accountability – I contribute to a daily briefing that is shared with my healthcare team. My inaugural weeks have included a comprehensive induction, travelling to our head office in Cardiff to meet each and every member of staff.
I’ve learnt so much already at Freshwater, both from my team and the company as a whole. Everyone here works so hard and is great at what they do, but somehow still has time to support me and make me feel welcome. To be secure in the knowledge that I can afford to live comfortably in London because my employer is choosing to pay me above the London Living Wage is a fantastic feeling.
So, finally, ‘the fear’ has given way to another emotion: excitement. Excitement for my future at Freshwater, as a young communications professional and starting my career as a valued, fully paid employee.