I thoroughly enjoyed my internship at SLI. I was given a challenging and fulfilling project to complete as the core of my 10-week experience, which gave me fantastic context into my team, the company and the industry as a whole. There were many opportunities to learn in a very inclusive culture, and with support from a wide network of fellow interns, our allocated 'buddies', graduates and senior colleagues. One slight caveat is that in many senses 10 weeks is too short to gain full understanding of the company, team or role, but this is true for all internships.
I felt very valued by my colleagues. I was given informal feedback through conversation throughout my internship, which grew my confidence in my technical, organisational and people skills. Oftentimes I would contribute something new to a task or a project, and these ideas would be valued and considered. My skillset worked well in conjunction with my team, so I felt truly like a peer rather than the new kid on the block. However, you very much get out what you put in; if you don't offer value, you wont be as valued.
I wasn't given much support, but it is important to note that this was as a result of competence and prior professional experience. Access to support and guidance was readily available whenever I needed it, and this guidance was always helpful. On a separate note, great career guidance was given throughout the internship and went some distance to inform my next career decision.
I always had something to do, although there were no strict timelines attached to my project. The lack of significant time pressures were due to good time management from the start of the internship - there were resources available to facilitate this. There was still a large degree of variance between slower days and busy days depending on meetings, development events and so on.
I was given full autonomy and responsibility over my project, which involved third party stakeholders but did not directly impact Business As Usual (BAU). This was a great development opportunity, without too much risk attached to it. I was given a rough framework for how my project would pan out, so I was never given too much responsibility. At no point did I feel that I was being under-utilised or over-stretched.
The skills and training I received on my internship will assist me greatly in my degree studies and beyond. As part of my project I had to become very proficient in technical skills like Excel and VBA, which is directly applicable to quantitative degree subjects and can facilitate data analysis in research for University work or in a professional setting. My presentational abilities were greatly tested throughout my internship, although this arose through being placed in my specific team and may not apply to all interns. This will greatly increase success in interviews, meetings, presentations and in networking in future. Finally, the context, knowledge and people skills I gained will be invaluable in helping me decide my career direction and to maximise my own personal development.
The general atmosphere was good. Interns were encouraged to discuss their work, their jobs, the company and the industry with their colleagues, who were all very open and knowledgeable. However, when my manager was absent there was an instance where I was taken into a room by another colleague, told to stop talking and probed about my work - despite my conversation being directly related to my job and my work going ahead of schedule. This conflicted directly with earlier guidance given by the internship heads, and marred an otherwise positive atmosphere.
The internship was set up well overall, but with some frustrating moments. There was a comprehensive plan for intern development, which ran smoothly overall and gave useful and relevant skills and knowledge. However, the Charity Challenge, which aimed to teach teamwork and entrepreneurship, was cancelled and nothing replaced it. This meant the internship development programme was incomplete, and some organisers were not even aware it had been cancelled.
This varied largely according to which individual internship you applied for. In the Front Office, interns were taught how to use platforms like Bloomberg and were given formal training in relevant areas. However, in Operations the same was not true. By default, an Operations intern did not need access to the same platforms. Some were lucky and were placed in a team with access to these resources, but there was no budget available for other interns to request training or resources that they think they would find useful.
I would absolutely love to return to Standard Life. My internship experience gave me professional exposure to Economics, in which I have a great passion, so I opted to apply for a Masters rather than to make myself eligible for the Graduate Scheme, but under any other circumstances I would have welcomed an offer with open arms. I intend to re-apply to Standard Life either for another internship in future, or return for a Grad Scheme after I am finished with formal education.
There was an excellent social scene. There were regular events organised for interns, which helped us develop a great network that far exceeded my expectations; we would meet almost daily for lunch, attend shows and events together, and go out on the weekends. Additionally, there were events with the Young People's Development Network (YPDN) which included Grad Scheme employees and other young people, although the events were spread out so we didn't get to attend very many.
For interns that were not Edinburgh residents, the internship offered free accommodation in very high quality flats within walking distance of the office. This is unbeatable value that I have not encountered anywhere else. Those that come from Edinburgh were understandably obliged to stay at home. Edinburgh is on the expensive side of Scotland in terms of socialising, but is markedly cheaper than London.
The nightlife is very good in Edinburgh. There are many options when deciding where to go or what to do: pool halls, pubs, clubs, shows, and many more. A huge plus is that the internship runs during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is the largest Arts festival in the world and gives thousands of things to do - a truly unique experience.
There were many opportunities to do anything from running, to football, to pub quizzes. The downside to this is that many events are set to happen after the internship concludes, but this is true anywhere. Many of the employee clubs and societies were not advertised to interns - likely due to our short time at the company.