Today, we bring you the final installment of our intern blog series. At the start of April, we set out to discover what SIE Interns do once they’ve finished their internship. So far, we’ve heard from Alice, Founder of 2thekitchen and Rebecca, Founder of Pick Protection. This week, our intern Lavinia (University of Dundee) sat down with SIE’s Intern Programme Manager, Kieran Smyth. Kieran first started at SIE as the Edinburgh Napier intern in 2010 and has gone on to create a number of social enterprises. Lavinia got all the details…
What have you been doing since your internship?
Since being an SIE intern I came to work for SIE full time. I started off as a regional intern coordinator for the Edinburgh interns, and then took over the Glasgow area. Then, I took charge of all the personal development and training with the interns and now I manage the entire intern programme. In my spare time, I started a couple of social enterprises, which I do partly for fun, and partly to be active in this area of entrepreneurship.
Why did you return to SIE?
I returned to SIE because entrepreneurship is something I’m passionate about and I’m not saying that just for the sake of it! I think that being your own boss, making your own decisions and building something for yourself is something that everyone should try at least once. I believe that SIE is the perfect vehicle to do that. I want to be part of an organisation that helps students realise what they are capable of and how they could change their own lives or change the lives of other people by starting something quite new and unique.
Did your SIE Internship help you/inspire you to start your own business?
Yes, it definitely did. Being an intern was the first time I got to really work autonomously and make decisions. From the internship I learnt that it’s ok to take risks and that when you take risks the gains can be substantial. I learned not to be afraid to do things, to just go for it. Some attempts may work and some may fail. What is important to remember is that each failure is lesson that you’ve learned. That realisation helped me overcome some of the barriers that I had myself, such as fear of failure or fear of taking risks. Now I don’t worry about that anymore because I know that no matter what I do, whether it works out or not, I can still benefit from it in some way.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I would have to say would be the sense of fulfilment that you get. When you start off and build something up from nothing, it’s scary. But the more effort you put into it, the more rewarding it is. Often times it’s not financial – it’s just the satisfaction of knowing “I created this and it’s helping people or people enjoy it”. There’s also the reward of knowing that it’s your hard work and you can see the results of that. When you work for somebody else, you’re always chasing somebody else’s dream. When you do it for yourself you know exactly what you’re working for: “My decision, my idea, my dream.”
Why is working with SIE Interns so rewarding?
The positivity. You always hear that young people are not engaged or that they don’t want to do anything. The truth of the matter is completely different. When you’re working with the SIE interns you meet these young people that are incredibly clued up and engaged. They’re ambitious and they really want to work hard and make a difference. That energy that they bring to their roles has a big impact not just for me but for the whole organisation. It keeps us going and it keeps us relevant. Working with the interns keeps me focused on who we’re meant to be helping and the real reasons behind why we do it.
Would you encourage other students to apply for the internship/become an entrepreneur?
I certainly would. The internship has become part of the vehicle through which students learn about themselves and the world of entrepreneurship. There are all these opportunities to meet entrepreneurs and engage with them. There are also a lot of opportunities to learn many professional skills that could be really valuable for their future careers. The training and the personal development opportunities the internship involves, help interns learn about who they are and how they can apply their own personal skill set to their future careers, whether that’s working for somebody else or starting their own business.
If you would like to become the SIE Intern at your university or college for the 2016-17 academic year, visit our website for all of the details!
This article first appeared in Ignite Magazine, Issue 14.