At SamKnows, we support continuous learning and innovation. Our team are dedicated to helping young people experience opportunities that enhance their success, and provide the necessary resources to achieve their goals. Project Margaret Hamilton, a home-grown coding lab for girls, is one such venture - another is our internship program, designed to give people relevant and real-world experience of a thriving tech company. Today, we’re talking to Annabelle to find out about her experience as a SamKnows intern.
Hi Annabelle, tell our readers about yourself!
I’m Annabelle and I’m 17. I live in London and I’m about to go into my last year of A-levels. I spend most of my free time doing homework, but I also love reading. I like the cheesy romances, which don’t add a lot to my education but I think that’s fine! It’s a bit of light relief from my revision.
What subjects are you studying?
I’m doing business, politics, and psychology and I’ve just finished an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which is separate to my A-Levels. I wrote a 5,000-word essay titled “In what way does America devalue women?”.
Why did you apply for an internship at SamKnows?
I’ve always thought that the tech industry looks exciting and has lots of opportunities, particularly since it’s constantly evolving - it’s also a massive part of the economy. I want to experience different industries and get a feel for how different companies operate so that I can work out what I want to do in the future. I was really excited to have the chance to learn about the different roles at SamKnows, and to work with the team.
What was the application process like?
It was really straight forward. I sent an email to Reuben, Head of HR, to ask him if I could do a week’s work experience, explaining why, and attaching my CV. He replied soon after to say of course, and asked me whether I had any dates in mind.
What makes a SamKnows internship unique?
The best thing about interning here is that Reuben sends you a survey before you start to see where you would most like to sit within the company. This meant that I knew I would gain lots of relevant experience before I even arrived. I told Reuben that I wanted to work with clients and so he set me up with a project where I could do exactly that, which was exciting. However, it’s not as though I was only able to experience one part of the company. I had the chance to meet lots of people and if I wanted to try working with another team once I got here, then I could. There’s a lot of flexibility, which is really cool, and very different to the other work experiences that I’ve had.
What were you most surprised to learn?
To be honest, I was surprised to find there’s a creative team here! I mean, I knew that people would be designing visuals, but I didn’t know how that would work within a tech company. The Creative team design all the visuals, copy, and layout for the websites and apps - everything! From meeting everyone and seeing how the teams interact with one another, I realised that you need a mastermind to work out how the features will look for the end user, and that’s really exciting. Perhaps I believed the misconception that tech companies are only full of people coding (which is obviously a big part of it) but there are lots of different things going on as well. It doesn’t matter whether you can code or not, you can still be part of a tech company.
What was your first day like?
Reuben was there to greet me when I arrived. He set me up with a laptop and email and Slack accounts, which was great because I instantly felt like part of the team. Reuben then told me that we were going to arrange meetings with different teams which was quite nerve-wracking because I didn’t want to disturb people - but everyone was really friendly! He showed me how to use Google Calendar, which is a basic skill but it’s useful because I’ll need to use it in the future. I then spent the day meeting with all the different teams within the company, asking them questions and learning about what they do. It was really fun.
What have you been working on this week?
I’ve been doing a project for the Government team, looking at the potential for new business in Europe and Africa. I researched the regulators of 40-50 different countries, as well as their GDP, population size, and the type of tech they have (satellite, mobile, or fixed), and whether they measure their national internet performance. I’ve then put a report together. I think it’s exciting that in the next couple of years there’s a possibility that SamKnows will be working with some of the countries in my report and I’ll know that I’ve helped with that.
Would you say that your experience at SamKnows fits with your plans for the future?
Definitely. Because if I’m asked about my experience in the future, I can say that I helped to manage a project, conducted research, and collected loads of important data. Also, if I’m ever asked to do a research a project, I’ll know what to do - I know how to find reliable websites with up-to-date information. I’ve learned new skills that I didn’t know I needed, or I didn’t think that I would learn here, which is great. All the work I’ve done has been really worthwhile and I’ve really enjoyed it!
Have you always wanted to work in the tech industry?
I have thought about it because there are lots of opportunities in tech. However, before interning here, I thought I couldn’t go into tech because I don’t know how to code. Now I feel confident that I can. When I go to university to study business and, as part of that, do my year of industry, I’ll make sure that I don’t shy away from doing something I’m unsure I have the skills for. I’ll just do it. This experience has definitely solidified my idea of working in tech. I’ve really enjoyed working with the account managers on the Government team and being on the commercial side of things.
What do you want to do when you leave school?
I’m not sure exactly but one of my thoughts is to go into an industry that’s quite male-dominated and create my own company or work to a high level within a company. I want to achieve my own success by working hard. It’s important to me that I know that I’ve been successful - particularly as a woman, I think that’s a nice feeling. I want to prove to myself that I can do it and that I can challenge the belief that was held in the past that women weren’t good enough. In the meantime, I plan to study Business at university.
It’s been a big week! How do you feel now that it’s come to an end?
It’s been great, I’ve learned so many new things, including what it’s like to go to work every morning! I also felt rewarded when Roxanne, who is Head of the Government Team, told me that she was proud of my report and that I’d made a real difference to her team. I’ve not been sitting at a desk writing notes that are never going to be used, which can happen for a lot of work experience placements. I’m excited for the future!
If you would like to apply for an internship at SamKnows, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Reuben at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.