Final Year Commerce student Michele, tells us about her internship experience with Special Olympics Ireland, working with the marketing and fundraising departments and her experience and benefits of applying for The Business in Society Scholarship.

Not sure what area you are interested in completing an internship in? This is the feeling almost everyone in Commerce has during 2nd year. Commerce has the option of being extended from a three to a four-year course if you decide to do an internship in your third year. The areas you can work in are endless, for example, HR, Consulting, Tax, Audit, Accounting, Finance, and Marketing.  UCD works with some of the biggest corporates in Ireland to create internship opportunities for us including KPMG, EY, Applegreen, Johnson & Johnson, and many more. Many of these companies also offer graduate program positions for us when we finish our degree which is amazing too!

The thought of choosing one subject to do a nine-month placement in can be stressful. However, if you adopt the mindset to apply to an area that you think you like (or dislike the least) and get the work placement under your belt, whether you end up loving the area or hating it, the nine-month placement will undoubtedly be full of learnings and networking opportunities. If you are like me and like the idea of working with a purpose and being able to combine your own personal interests with an area of Commerce you find most interesting, the Quinn school offers two internship scholarships; The Business and Society Internship Scholarship financially supports a student to complete their internship in the voluntary sector, while the Quinn Enterprise Internship Scholarship supports an entrepreneurial student interested in completing their internship in the start-up sector.

 I’m going to run through the process I completed before I was fortunate to receive the Business and Society scholarship in the year 2021/2022.

The first step in the process is identifying the organisation that you are interested in working with. For me, I had participated as a volunteer in a Special Olympics event in secondary school and I was aware that they had worked with UCD previously as part of the UCD in the community initiative. This initiative works to make a difference in the lives of the people in the community, they have previously worked with organisations like Simon Community and St Vincent de Paul. Once you decide on an organisation, UCD will send some information for you to share with them including a letter from the school explaining the scholarship opportunity, a host guide outlining their role & responsibilities and a job description template for you to craft together with them. This opportunity to create your own job description is something that is unique to this scholarship opportunity. I decided to split my time into two between their marketing and fundraising departments. This allowed me to see all the background work that is done in order to plan and organise both in-person and virtual fundraising campaigns as well as then see how these events are promoted to the public and how valuable the athletes are in spreading the message across the country.

It is important to note that you can definitely still complete any other Quinn internship applications or interviews. I completed my five other application processes however always had a preference to complete an internship in the non-profit sector. Claire Kingston is the Internship Manager in the Quinn school and she was extremely helpful throughout the process. I was able to share with her my initial concerns about the value of the internship in the non-profit sector in comparison to my peers who were accepting roles in some of the Big 4 accounting firms like KPMG, Pwc and EY. Something she pointed out to me which I often forget is that I am completing one of the most sought out Commerce degrees in the country and to have a unique work placement that no one else in the country will have completed is an opportunity that shouldn’t be undervalued.

The next step was to organise a call with my contact in Special Olympics Ireland and demonstrate my enthusiasm for the role and work on drafting together a job description. Special Olympics Ireland was willing to help me with this process regardless of my having not been offered the scholarship as of yet. Finally, I had to submit these documents supported by a personal statement to UCD as my complete application. My personal statement was a one-page document that demonstrated how the combination of my academic results, personal interests and achievements, and my self-driven personality would prove that I would relish this opportunity.

Thanks to UCD I was given the opportunity to gain exposure to the nonprofit world as an intern. I was a Marketing and Fundraising intern in Special Olympics Ireland for nine months. Personally, I didn’t know which route in the business world I wanted to take, so this was why I was set on doing an internship. As I approached Special Olympics Ireland with this internship opportunity which would be sponsored by the UCD Quinn School of Business, one of the things I had to be conscious of was that I got everything I  wanted out of it, which for me included being a valuable part of a new campaign and networking with everyone. I have found since completing my internship that in conversations I have had with both family and friends, and working professionals, they seem to get excited that I have unique work experience and tend to ask me a lot about it. I would absolutely recommend applying for the Business and Society internship scholarship, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made since starting at UCD. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be sponsored by a university to complete an internship in the voluntary sector where there are ever-growing opportunities for business professionals to get jobs.