HeadStart Interns share their experience at City Hall

01 January 2016

First published:Thursday, 27 August 2015

After four amazing weeks of hard work and dedication, our HeadStart interns are leaving this Friday. Read on below for how they found their experience!

Anis Belmokhtar, Web Team

I’ll start by saying that before my internship at City Hall, I didn’t have a job. I’d spend my days studying or playing video games at home. But now that I’m leaving for my 13th year of education, I feel like these four weeks have gone a little too quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun - I’m hoping that might give you an idea of the impact working here had on me. 

Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck on my first day. I met my manager David who talked through a few tasks to do once I settled down in front of my computer. You start merging with the atmosphere of the office as soon as you start working. It’s one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen, actually. We work together and talk to each other. There’s a wonderful harmony. It definitely beats doing silent classwork. 

Plus, you get to see some really cool stuff in web team. Stuff like impressive equipment that the in-house broadcasting company uses. As well as that, I had the privilege of observing user-testing sessions at Holborn twice. I found the eye-trackers there particularly awesome. It's hard to believe how people's eyes move when they look at a screen. I’m glad that working here gave me the chance to see things I wouldn’t otherwise.

Overall, working here in the web team feels like being part of a greater whole. Your contribution feels like it has an impact, and your presence is appreciated. Every task feels worthwhile no matter the effort you put in. The simple pleasure you get from knowing that is something I've sorely lacked in my life.

So that’s why I’m going to miss working at City Hall. I’d honestly encourage everyone to fight super hard for an internship here. It was one of the most rewarding fights I have ever fought. If you do emerge victorious, consider joining the web team for a month. You will gain a lot of skills, as well as vital experience working with other people. But the most important thing is that you’ll never forget your time here.

Abigail Gledhill, HR

I came! I saw! I conquered! And now sadly I must leave…

Over the past month I’ve come on in leaps and bounds. I now feel more confident about entering the world of work when the time comes. I was very nervous at the start. I lacked the confidence to interact with people in my team and I allowed my inexperience to get the better of me! 

I thought that by about halfway through I’d be willing the month to end.  But as my internship draws to a close I can honestly say that the month has flown by in a blink of an eye. I actually wish it could’ve been slightly longer.

Being the only intern in my department gave me a chance to do a variety of different tasks. All of which have taught me something new – whether a new skill or learning about a new process. Working at City Hall, you soon realise that no two days are ever the same. This internship’s been like nothing I thought it would be (it’s been better!) and nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.

An internship may seem daunting at first, but you get a huge sense of achievement when it ends. It makes the early mornings, the embarrassing mistakes, and the initial nervousness worthwhile. I definitely recommend doing an internship; the skills you learn are invaluable.

I know I’ll always cherish this month, the memories I’ve made and the friendships that I’ve formed with the other interns. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed myself (well maybe not the early morning wake-ups!)  I really appreciate City Hall for hosting such an opportunity for young people. I’m extremely grateful for this experience. It’s really helped my own personal development as I begin my transition from school to university and then to the working world.

Aishah Nahar, Team London 

Before I started my internship, I had a number of doubts.  I thought, am I suitable? Should I apply? Would I go through to interview? Even if I did, would I get the job?

What I came to realise is that these questions never needed an answer. Having these questions only meant I really wanted it. I wanted the experience so bad I thought it was out of reach for me.  Right up to my first day I still had these anxious questions in my head. I think it may have been the fact that it was all so unfamiliar. To say, "I didn't know what to expect" was an understatement.

To my surprise I was successful. Even better, I was chosen for Team London (the department I wanted to be in). I remember meeting Aimee on the interview day and asking her what a typical day at the office would be like, what I’d be doing etc. She said "It is never the same! Every day is different". She was right.

I've been working with Stephanie and Aimee who look over business and third sector engagement. Team London is a legacy of London's 2012 Games. You can see the team love what they do simply by the amount of hard work they put in. I gained great new skills from my experience working with them. I also improved the skills I already had. Amanda, who works on everything to do with volunteering, kindly invited me along to check out the 639 Enterprise Centre in Tottenham. She talked me through what she does and the different projects she works on there. The things I left with were 1) how much work City Hall staff put in to meet the demands of the public and 2) the success stories she had to share. Both served to inspire me.

One of the best parts of the internship was sharing my time here with a great bunch of interns. Another intern, Bez works in Team London too. We’ve both worked on completely different things but always took lunch together with the other interns. It felt good to have people to share the experience with on the same level as myself.

By the time you read this post I'll have finished my internship and left Aimee and Stephanie to their own devices (what will they do without me?!) I just wanted to leave you with some advice I always try to give myself. Capitalise on every opportunity presented to you and recognise yourself. Know who you are, what you want and dive straight in. If you sit around testing the waters you’ll never reap the benefits.

Good luck to City Hall’s future interns - - you won't want to leave!

Lama Elwardany, Commercial Partnerships

When I got the email for this opportunity the first thing I thought was ‘no way!’ It’s honestly the most exciting thing I’ve ever had the chance to do - hands down. So I applied. Then I got through to the assessment day. I thought to myself, ‘even if you don’t get it, the day itself is an amazing experience’. I even started panicking the day before thinking that I’ll mess up the day altogether. However I thought about all the skills I’ve got from volunteering and threw away all negative thoughts. I decided to meet my fate with confidence and a happy smile. I left that day satisfied with how I presented myself. I wholeheartedly believe that it was my attitude that got me the job; if I went in feeling defeated already I would never have been considered.

This month at City Hall’s been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had. I was in the commercial partnerships (a small team of five including me). The main aim is to secure funding from the private sector for the Mayor’s events and programmes. That means a lot of research is done to find who’d be best to approach. I’ve done so much research this month. It’s actually been brilliant. I also went to many interesting meetings and saw how all the different teams here work together to get a programme/event running. I was able to help on an upcoming event by setting up the guest list and booking meetings (okay I booked one meeting but it’s happening every Wednesday). 

What I’ve gotten out of this experience is amazing. If an opportunity like this comes your way, just grab it. 

Bez Adeosun, Team London

What can I say? This experience has been completely phenomenal! I’ve personally seen myself grow in competence from the very start. There were daunting tasks to face in the interview. As a Team London intern too, the work has been challenging (but truly very fun and exciting). Coming up to August, I was sitting at home unsure about what to expect here. Now at the end of August, I can honestly say that my experience at City Hall’s been better than I could've ever imagined. 

Every single member of Team London has been great. I will always cherish the moments of kindness, warmth and painstaking laughter we've had in this short month together. From the moment I heard the words 'don’t worry, we'll cover for you' during our team lunch on the second day, I knew it would be amazing.

To any prospective interns or people thinking about a career at City Hall, if you’re not looking for roles in Team London then quite frankly you're doing it wrong. The brilliant initiatives run by Team London hold no bounds. There are so many great projects like Team London Ambassadors, Young Ambassadors and many more – all encouraging people to volunteer in this city. I’ve really enjoyed having the chance to work with team members on some of these projects. It’s also been amazing to contribute towards recognising and celebrating the volunteers who make these programmes the success they are. 

Moving on from City Hall will be a sad experience for me, but I look forward to completing my A-Levels. I hope to study Human, Social and Political Science at Cambridge.  I feel very privileged to have experienced the roles many people aspire to have at the pinnacle of their careers, right at the very start of mine. Hopefully in 25 years, I’ll be a director of one of the world's top NGO's. I want to look back at this experience with great joy for allowing me to achieve my dreams and reach my full potential.

Mohamed ElMustafa Mohamed, Housing and Land                

When I first applied, I had no idea what to expect. Housing and land isn’t really one of those things that everyone knows that much about. Working as an intern in this department has really given me an insight into the problems London has around housing and what we’re trying to do to make it right.

Four weeks have passed so quickly. On the first day I felt like I’d potentially wasted my precious summer holiday in a job that was going to mean doing the same thing day in day out. I was so wrong! Every day presents a new, different, varied task which highlights yet another part of housing which I was unware of.  Who knew that by 2018 there’s going to be 42,000 new homes in London?

Working in the department, I was invited to team meetings, I went on site visits and got to really know and understand the project I was working on. I was fully involved and wasn’t treated as the traditional ‘intern’. After a while, you start to realise that your work is part of the bigger picture. Without all the individual efforts from each and every person in the team, this operation wouldn’t be as successful as it is. I feel that this experience has really helped me develop my skills and has given me an edge which will help me stand out in the future.   

Housing is a really big issue and is necessary for everyone. The truth being that shelter is a basic human need. That’s why I would strongly advise you to apply for an internship at City Hall, here in the housing and land team. It’s rewarding, enjoyable and most importantly, the experience you’ll gain here is second to none. 

Zahra Ali, Housing and Land 

My month long internship went by in a flash.  Four weeks ago I was looking forward to starting work at City Hall. I wanted to spend my summer productively by gaining experience, meeting new people and doing something new. I’m so glad that I stepped away from A-level revision to apply before I started at uni in September.

I spent time with the North East, North West and South teams in the department. I did everything from taking minutes in meetings to compiling an archive database. I also picked up useful Microsoft software skills too.

Working in Housing and Land has given me the chance to learn all about the Mayor’s Housing Zones and how their progress is being tracked. I particularly enjoyed meetings where the Environment team talked about how they’d make sure the new developments are in line with the Mayor’s environmental strategies. 

A real highlight for me was when Mohamed (a fellow intern) and I went on a site visit to Cane Hill with Marvin and Alison from the South team. We braved the rain to see how the plans we had in print compared to the reality. It gave us the opportunity to learn about various development aspects such as boundaries and the archaeological work that happens before any construction can start. It was great to see how the work in the office is put into practice. Hard hats, high visibility clothing and steel toed boots were sadly not needed. Even so, Cane Hill provided a snapshot of what the initial stages of housing development look like. It was a trip to be remembered.  

Overall, I’m delighted to have had this opportunity at City Hall. I’m passionate about Geography and about to start a three year degree in the subject. It’s been really valuable to work somewhere where housing is a top priority. Housing and land might not be an area that young people think much about. However, it is essential and in high demand here in London. I’ve loved working in my team and being a help to them. I feel like my time here has been very well spent. To anyone thinking about doing an internship at City Hall, I’d say ‘do it’ - it will only set you up for greater opportunities!

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If you’re interested in doing a HeadStart internship at City Hall, find out more here 

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