Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Ashin, I’m 26 years old born and brought up in Kerala, India. I came to Glasgow to pursue my master’s degree in mechanical engineering from University of Glasgow. After successfully completing my studies, I worked as a laboratory scientist at the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow for around a year.
How did you come to Street Connect?
When I finished my last job, I knew I was in a career transition phase and was desperately looking for an opportunity that would give me some exposure and experience outwith my area of specialisation, that’s when I came across Street Connect’s stand at a careers fair organised by University of Glasgow. I recalled hearing about Street Connect and their work from a friend of mine who volunteered with them for a while; I was greeted with a warm smile by their fundraising manager, who also explained about the Graduate Support Assistant role.
Why did you apply for the internship?
Having faced difficult situations as a teenager and finding hope and purpose for my life in God, I always had a heart for vulnerable people and have volunteered with different charities throughout my student life. I felt Street Connect will be the right place for me to contribute to the community with the skills and knowledge that I acquired through my professional education and previous work experience whilst also gaining some valuable insight about the business support aspects of a modern-day charity. I wanted something that would push me out of my comfort zone and support me financially while I navigate my career transition phase, the graduate support assistant role sounded very much like what I was looking for.
What was your role?
On the first day of my internship, I was welcomed by the business support manager and was given an induction into various aspects of the organisation along with my fellow intern Callum. I was expecting my job to be solely based at the office; however, on my second week, I was asked to visit one of our projects in Clydebank along to gain some active experience of the charity’s work. I was instantly accepted by both participants and staff members. We played pool, listened to the project coordinator teaching on ‘mending broken relationships’ and had lunch together. I really enjoyed the time spent with our participants; such amazing people, all of them wanted to live a good life but difficult circumstances and traumatic events in life accompanied with poor choices led them to a lifestyle where substance abuse was the only way to find some relief and escape reality. On my way back, I was thinking of asking my manager if I could visit them again; to my surprise, she asked me if I would like to take over the role of participant rep and visit all our projects once a month – I agreed without a second thought.
My responsibilities included interacting with our participants, collecting good news stories, snippets for our social media campaigns and publishing our participant newsletter. It was an amazing experience to work with people from different backgrounds and life experiences and hear the first-hand account of how Street Connect impacted their lives. Over the course my internship, I made a lot of friends amongst our participants, their excitement to learn about my next visit truly melted my heart. I was successful in gathering stories of lives transformed and various things going on at our hubs for our social media and fundraising campaigns, so that our supporters can actually see how their donations are being spent. I have also facilitated our annual evaluation across all our projects.
On the days I wasn’t visiting any of the hubs; I worked on our databases, helped with office administration and ad-hoc tasks like preparing reports, offering IT support to colleagues, etc. I was asked to help develop our supporter database – Donorfy – and set it up to its full potential to take advantage of its features like automated supporter journey. We are aiming to reach our supporters more efficiently with donation acknowledgements, prayer requests and volunteering information once the system is set up correctly. As I hadn’t worked on that platform before, I had to do a lot of background research on data transfer, integrations, etc – a bit time consuming. I was able to transfer our supporter churches and volunteers from our previous database to Donorfy without any data loss in the process. I have also managed to integrate Donorfy with other platforms like Facebook, Eventbrite and Mailchimp; which means all the supporter data will be in one place, something I consider a great achievement given all the hurdles I had to overcome.
Do you feel you grew through this internship? In what way?
When I was about to start this internship; I wasn’t sure of what to expect apart from what I read in the job description, but I was ready for anything that would help me to learn something new and give me an opportunity to serve others. As an international student, I had seen only the charming side of Glasgow but Street Connect showed me a group of people who’re neglected by the majority and taught me how to reach out to them with the love of God. The last 6 months made me think about the blessing in my life that I used to take for granted and taught me to be more loving and compassionate to those around me.
What impressed you most about SC?
One thing that impressed me the most about Street Connect is their work culture, every colleague I got to know, from the senior leadership to those who provide one-to-one support to our participants were very kind and supportive. Whether it’s writing a funding application or doing street outreach or serving tea and coffee at one of our drop-in cafes, they do it with so much love and sincerity heart.
Was there anything you would change?
Since it’s a growing charity, it’s constantly working to improve its efficiency and effectiveness to enable it to help more and more people. I found that some of the ways they had worked in the past could be improved upon e.g. handovers – It would have saved me a lot of time if there had been a more detailed handover from the person who worked before me on this database. However, on the positive side it made me to think about ways to avoid such situations happening in the future and I scripted everything I learned into a new database handbook to inform future users.
What’s next for you?
I’m offered a job as the Business Support Assistant at Street Connect, looking forward to fulfilling my responsibilities in the new role.
What would you say to anyone else wishing to apply for a graduate internship with SC?
If you’re looking for somewhere you can serve with your skills and knowledge, open to learn something new and want to work alongside some of the kindest people you’ll ever encounter – Street Connect is the right place for you.