Managing Director’s innovative approach to thriving business and internships

A local community interest company has taken an innovative approach to internships - giving them immediate responsibility and making them projects leads from day one.

Mondrem, based in the Smart Innovation Hub on Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park, is a public service transformation consultancy which focuses on creating the best possible work environment for their customers and staff.

In the last 12 months, Mondrem have hired a total of eight Keele interns, six of which are now in full-time employment with the company. The most recent internships have been funded by Santander Universities.

Geology and Physical Geography student Ellie-Kay Dawe was assigned to lead the Nurture project - an initiative which aimed to convert natural spaces into places that would aid mental wellbeing. She said:

“The internship was a great opportunity to work on a project that combines all my hobbies and passions whilst improving my skills. I was inspired by the values of Mondrem the importance they placed on mental health and happiness.

“During the internship I was asked to complete a Microsoft Project training course to teach other employees. This helped me to develop leadership skills and improved my ability to share my own knowledge. Now, I have high level project management industry experience and a permanent role at Mondrem.”

Fellow intern and recent Computer Science graduate Cynthia Benin was appointed as Digital Transformation lead. Her role involved advising the organisation’s employees on how best to use their software and developing small apps to help them automate their work tasks. She commented:

“I applied for an internship to gain experience and knowledge beyond what I learnt at university and to prepare myself for the future. Over my time at Mondrem I soon became my colleagues’ first port of call for tech-related guidance. While this carried a lot of responsibility, it also helped set the tone for what was expected of me during and beyond the internship.

“Coping with work and university work during lockdown wasn’t the easiest. However, my colleagues arranged regular catch up meetings and made sure I knew my work was of value which really helped me get through those weeks. Through the internship I have been able to narrow down the wide opportunities that working in IT offer to find work that I enjoy.”

When hiring, Mike Astbury, Mondrem’s Managing Director, took the approach to assign responsibilities rather than tasks, allowing interns to discover how they intend to lead the project while being supported by the organisation. Mike said:

“The calibre of interns we have received from Keele University has been very high. We are an innovative company and aim to get the best out of those we employ by giving them full control and responsibility of a set area or project in the business.
This provides a role that is exciting for them and also achieves our aims.

“A unique attribute of employing interns is that their minds are not constrained by experience or convention. They are able to look at problems with a fresh pair of eyes. Experience is good but sometimes sticking with a way you know works well, stops you from trying new ways that might work even better.”

In addition to Keele internships, Mondrem has taken full advantage of the business support on offer from Keele University with Mike being a successful graduate of Keele’s Merica Centre for Innovation Leadership Programme in 2019 and being situated on the Science and Innovation Park has also enabled connections for current and future growth. Mike added:

“Working from Keele’s Smart Innovation Hub has been brilliant for us, opening up opportunities to collaborate with the other tenants. Being based on campus has also allowed us to utilise our interns’ university contacts, which will help us in future collaborative projects. Without the interns we would have not been able to tell some of the fabulous stories that come out of what we do as an organisation.

Santander Logo 2019 ed 200px To find out more about Keele University’s internship opportunities, including the Santander Universities UK programme and our fully-funded charity internships, please click here.

For more information about business support opportunities and office space available on the Science and Innovation Park please visit keele.ac.uk/business.