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The life of a Keep Scotland Beautiful intern

A blog post by Ross Brannigan

On 3 December, I stepped into the offices of Keep Scotland Beautiful – my first shift in a real full-time job. Soon, I will be waving goodbye to this incredible organisation, which has given me so many opportunities and taught me so much. Thus, it seems a good time to reflect on the past five months and write about this brilliant group of people

I stumbled upon a job posting on Adopt an Intern (AAI) – a site where companies list internship opportunities. Internships can get quite a bad reputation: usually the image of an unpaid graduate making coffee and being sent to cover jobs no one else wants to do springs to mind.

AAI is not like that. It helps people find paid opportunities to get their foot on the career ladder. I had tried a few career paths during university, most notably journalism, writing and eventually being editor-in-chief of my student newspaper, as well as working for the BBC and other organisations as a freelance.

I continued to hone my ‘nose’ for news and finding the hook in a story. Above all, I love communication. Listening to and speaking to people, telling stories and understanding what makes people excited and motivated is what really interests me. I had hoped I could somehow pull this passion together with my love for the outdoors.

Therefore, I jumped at the opportunity to work as a Communications Intern at Keep Scotland Beautiful, if nothing more than to direct my career path and help me learn more about what I wanted to do with myself.

Instantly, I connected with the people in the office. Even in my interview, I was welcomed so warmly – which really helps in an interview to calm the nerves! Since then, that feeling has only increased, with my becoming much more than just an intern but a genuine member of the team.

With that in mind, here are five things I have learned and would tell someone coming to work as an intern for Keep Scotland Beautiful:

1. Start asking questions on day one

This is probably going to be your first ‘proper’ job. As an intern, you are there to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask what might seem obvious. The team are so supportive, and everyone will give you time and take you through things.

2. Show what you can do

Going into an internship, you know you aren’t going to be brilliant at everything, but you will 100% have skills unique to you – and I am not talking the juggling or licking your elbow kind of skills. For me, I could find a story headline or turn a phrase quite quickly, so naturally had a good skill for social media. Soon, I was made the lead on the organisation’s social media channels, which is an amazing honour.

3. Find out what you can do

I found a lot of things out about myself. I got the chance to flex my creativity muscles that I did not realise I had, contributing to website design, launch events and communications strategies. I even taught myself Excel code because I had a creative idea about how to gather analytics! A lot of this learning comes from being in a new environment or faced with a new problem.

4. Take every opportunity

Finding out what you are good at is, as I said, discovered through new challenges. This can only be done through putting yourself out there and volunteering for new things. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but it eventually becomes second nature. Part of your job is to learn, so take any chance that comes your way because I guarantee you will use that experience in the future, either in interviews or on the job.

5. You don’t work for people, but with them

I would say the number one thing I have felt at Keep Scotland Beautiful is that the only person I work for is Scotland and its environment. Everyone in the office is committed to making Scotland cleaner, greener and more sustainable. My ideas and input have always been listened to and I get the chance to share and collaborate on different projects every day.

Plus, every day I am inspired by the work our community groups do – there is so much incredible work being done out there and it feels like everyone who volunteers and helps with our cause is part of this team.


I have loved my time at Keep Scotland Beautiful. I am now moving on to work in a full-time and permanent role with another environmental charity, and I know everything I have learned in this role has prepared me perfectly for the future.

I have had every opportunity I could have asked for – from social media strategies to media briefs, from website design to procuring and then dressing up as The Beano’s Dennis and Gnasher!

I will miss this team, but I am so excited for the future!

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