The article below was written by Stefan Nowak. Stefan interned with us throughout January 2019.
It was Gandhi who said that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. In the corporate world, it may be argued that the same principle applies: a company should be judged based on how it treats the interns.
Of course, a quick search on the internet will show you that everyone is keen to extol their own fantastic virtues, and paint an image of a uniquely wonderful workplace culture – but is this an accurate reflection of reality?
In my case, based on my experience at Newgate, I can happily say that it is.
Before starting anything new, it is natural to have a few nerves or concerns about what might lie ahead, but from the moment I walked in to the office on Basinghall Street, these were allayed.
Joined by another new intern, I was taken on a mini-tour around the office and was introduced to everyone (and, importantly, was shown the tea and coffee-making facilities). As a Northerner, I was very happy to learn that Yorkshire Tea was the standard cuppa! Whilst I’m not going to pretend that I remembered everyone’s names, I do remember how friendly and welcoming everyone was – and how I was instantly treated as part of the team.
One of my first experiences was sitting in on a meeting with Newgate’s Corporate Team. It may have been in a standard conference room – like many others around the City, perhaps – but it truly did feel like I was in the engine room of the company, because in this field more than most, it is the people and their ideas that are the key components of the work.
In terms of what I have been doing, it was clear from the off that this wouldn’t be a month of photocopying and coffee runs (though let’s be honest, you’re not going to do any harm to people’s opinion of you by offering to make them a drink!). Similarly, this hasn’t been a school-level work experience placement either, where you go around wearing a special badge and have your hand held at all times. At Newgate, the onus is very much on you to grab the opportunities, to pursue the work that most interests you, and to build those all-important relationships with colleagues. The reward for this is getting to do work that is of some actual importance, having people place their trust in you, and getting real responsibility thrust upon you. So far, I have written reports that will be seen by MPs, created information packs for clients, and identified new angles for colleagues to pitch a story. I have undoubtedly been able to get a wide exposure to different kinds of tasks.
In line with this, as Newgate is an integrated communications company that delivers across multiple sectors, I have worked on a variety of exciting client accounts. If I wasn’t an expert on the nuances of the Norwegian recycling system or the reputational challenges faced by a bio-tech start-up before – then I certainly am now! I even got walk the corridors of power and watch the machinery of government in action when I accompanied a member of the public affairs team to Westminster to watch an All-Party Parliamentary Group.
The atmosphere here is collaborative but professional, and from what I’ve seen, everyone is passionate about their work and put a great deal of effort into it. However, that is not to say it is boring or stuffy – there is just as much talk about the football as there is about the FTSE, or about people’s pet dogs!
To sum up, this experience has certainly equipped me well going forward – exactly the point and purpose of an internship – and I can also be safe in the knowledge that I have done some valuable and meaningful work. I have only been here a month, but it feels like much less than that as each day is packed with activity – which can only be a good thing.