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What an internship at #TeamKSB looks like

A blog post by Jenna Heath

Jenna joined #TeamKSB in July 2023 through an internship with Inclusion Scotland and supports our Communities team. To celebrate International Women's Day we're delighted to share this recent interview she gave about her experience and what the role has taught her. #InspireInclusion

What were you doing before your internship?

I am currently in my third year studying Environmental Management at university. On the side I volunteer at my local Nature Reserve conservation group, helping to conserve nature and increase biodiversity.

What did you learn on your internship? (practical skills, personal development, putting knowledge into practice etc. Any constructive learning?) 

I learnt how invaluable it is for the workplace and people I will work with to know I am deaf before starting to work in that space. I feel this internship has also brought awareness to me that I can ask for help or adjustments due to my disability if needed. I have discovered how asking the workplace for adjustments or for awareness of my deafness is not a negative thing or will be ‘annoying’ but will benefit me and will allow me to work more efficiently and confidently.

What have you been doing since? 

I am continuing working at the organisation where the internship was, alongside continuing with my studies. My employer has been really understanding with my university timetable changing. 

Did you have any impairment related reasonable adjustments you’d like to share with us? Did having these help you going into your next job? 

As I have mentioned, I am deaf in one ear. This means that I struggle when in a crowded, noisy room or there is quite a bit of echo and the person I am speaking to is on my ‘wrong’ side. Due to this, when in the office I make sure to be situated with my manager on my left so I can hear them well. Adjustments wise, when given tasks and things to do, alongside verbal instructions my manager sends me an email with all the tasks she wants me to action. This proved invaluable as one of my main worries with my hearing is that I will not pick everything up and could miss a crucial detail.  

In future for going to my next job, I will be sure not to downplay my disability with my employer as I feel this is the first situation [the internship] where my disability is known from the beginning before I even stepped foot in the building, so raising awareness of the challenges I face will be a big thing for me. The raised awareness from my employer made me feel they were more approachable and understanding, so I will definitely take the approach Inclusion Scotland took in explaining and including my disability in applications from the start. 

What has your overall experience at Keep Scotland Beautiful been like?

My role within Keep Scotland Beautiful is a project assistant, working alongside Juliette in the Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood initiatives. I really enjoy working with #TeamKSB because it has given me an opportunity to work with like-minded people when it comes to caring for the environment. My work is varied, and I have had fantastic opportunities to visit groups who are doing some really great things in their community.

I feel my time at Keep Scotland Beautiful has increased my self-confidence tenfold. I am now doing things outside of my role at KSB which I never imagined myself doing, like going on a drone flying course which was designed to get more women interested in forestry – I am so excited! I work with some fantastic colleagues, who inspire me every day to work to the best of my capabilities and to be as organised as them. I feel empowered in the workplace, working with such fantastic women; they are definitely my work role models, I want to be like them when I grow up. I hope to continue my studies and working at this organisation. I also hope to travel and learn more environmentally related things out in the field.

Advice for future interns? (Putting self forward, application, time on placement, etc) 

To speak up and be honest about your disability to your employers from the get-go. Tell them what you find difficult and what adjustments you may need moving forward with the job because this is something they need and want to know. Though your employer could be doing all that is needed and you may not need further work adjustments, telling them the issues and barriers you face will be beneficial to them, because at the end of the day every organisation or company should want to be accessible.  

What do you hope to do next?  

I hope to continue my studies and working at this organisation. I also hope to travel and learn more environmentally related things out in the field.

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