Santander Internship goes full circle

A Stafford-based organisation that benefitted from a Keele University internship two years ago is celebrating after the initiative went full circle.

The Institution of Railway Operators, a membership-based organisation that promotes the safe, reliable and efficient operation of railways, originally hired Keele graduate Adam Fenton on a Santander-funded internship in September 2016 before hiring him on a permanent basis. Adam has since become the Institution’s Learning and Development Manager, and has recently hired a Keele intern of his own.

The Business Gateway team met with Adam Fenton to find out how everything has been since 2016.

Why did you decide to apply for this internship?
Adam: I had recently completed a PGCE at Keele University. Whilst I enjoyed the course and still had a passion for education and learning, I didn’t feel that teaching in a classroom setting was right for me. I researched how I could make use of the qualification and kept coming across Learning and Development. The internship was a great option for me as I had the necessary qualifications, but not the experience. The internship allowed me to get my foot in the door.

So, what do you do on a typical day?
Adam: Day-to-day my job involves managing the learning opportunities that the company offers. I am also involved in regular collaboration with our academic university partner and attend both programme and assessment boards, as well as managing our mentoring scheme. I am responsible for ensuring the student experience is positive and impactful.

What is the best thing about working for the organisation?
Adam: Since joining the company, I have been offered sponsorship to complete a CIPD qualification. I have since completed this course, and consequently have a qualification that supports the experience I am gaining in my day to day job.

If you could describe the organisation in three words, what would they be?
Adam: Inclusive; innovative; determined

What has been the highlight of your internship? Are there any particular things that you are most proud of?
Adam: The highlight of my internship was being offered a permanent job. It was nice to know that the hard work I had put into the internship has been recognised. I have now been promoted to Learning and Development Manager.

What advice would you give to other students or graduates looking for an internship?
Adam: It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain some paid work experience after graduating. Some people know what they want to do, and others don’t. This gives you the opportunity to use your qualification and explore your options, so you can find a career path that is right for you. I will always be grateful to the Keele internship scheme, as it has given me the opportunity to get some experience in an industry that I previously hadn’t worked in.

What are the main three things that you learnt from the internship?
Adam: I have become more confident with decision making, taking initiative and, more recently, management techniques.

What skills have you developed most during your internship?
Adam: I would say the art of effective communication, whether this is with our students, academic partners or my colleagues.

Recently, Adam’s internship went full circle, with the recruitment of a new Keele Intern, Aisha Mazhar (MA Human Resource Management) as the new Learning and Development Coordinator to support the organisation’s continued growth.

Talking about the value of Santander Internships, CEO Fiona Tordoff commented: “Adam is a great addition to our team. I’d advise anyone following him in the scheme to be yourself at interview and, even if you don’t know quite what you want, you can still be positive and assertive about yourself and what you offer.”

Santander Universities logo (300px wide) More information about Keele-Santander Internships for both SMEs and students can be found on our dedicated internships page.

Business support programmes are available through Keele University’s Business Gateway.