My virtual internship with BGF
Business management student Dot Fagbenro was looking forward to joining our summer internship programme when the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly took hold. Here Dot describes what the four weeks had in store for her and her fellow interns during her virtual internship:
An internship with a twist
I worked as an HR intern for BGF, undertaking a 4-week placement over the summer. My background isn’t HR-related, but I knew I wanted to work with people. Fortunately, there’s no need to have previous HR experience to be an HR intern. What mattered to BGF was that you’re willing to get stuck in, had an interest in entrepreneurship, and enthusiastic about developing a career in an investment fund.
BGF, established in 2011, is recognised as one of the world’s most active investment partners for growing companies in every sector of the economy. BGF has a buzzing entrepreneurial vibe with just over 170 employees around the UK & Ireland. They pride themselves on being junior equity stake partners and thrive on providing the support that is the most valuable to their clients, from funding to expertise.
How did you find out about the opportunity?
I heard about the internship via LinkedIn. Someone in my network had liked BGF’s post about launching this programme. I applied immediately, as I saw this as a massive burst of luck.
“The Next Big Thing” project
The internship kick-started with a pizza-making challenge from the Pizza Pilgrims, where 10 of us interns were able to virtually get to know each other while competing to make the best-looking pizza! To my surprise, I won the challenge! A perfect start to the week.
We had fantastic opportunities to learn tangible skills ranging from presentation techniques to digital literacy and AI training. Throughout the internship, we listened to Career Overviews from people around the business in; Risk & Compliance, Talent Network, IT, HR, Marketing & Comms, Legal, Operational Management, Finance, Portfolio Management and so much more.
The first group project was a challenge of pitching “The Next Big Thing” in the UK Market to a mock investment committee. This was a highlight for me as I got to demonstrate my research, critical analysis, & presentation skills. Additionally, I was a part of the winning team in pitching a cybersecurity company BGF should invest in.
Although the project wasn’t HR-related, it was tremendously valuable as I got to understand what Investors do day-to-day. To truly know the operational side of the business I was supporting, in an HR position, was a huge advantage because it helped me to understand the issues and responsibilities of my colleagues and look past the “paper pusher” stereotype HR is sometimes is given.
“ESG Project Launch” project
Another project set was the “ESG Project Launch”. All 10 interns worked together to bring fresh eyes to what BGF are currently doing, and what more they can do to embed an Environmental, Social & Governance approach to investing. I am so grateful to have been a part of this project, as it’s super important to me that companies are conscious of positively engaging with their local communities & making effective change.
Individually, I had the privilege to participate in calls on the matter of returning to work post-lockdown, as well as gaining incredible insight into BGF’s learning & development initiatives such as their financial resilience project and diversity & inclusion project.
In my mid-point review, I expressed my desire to gain more confidence in the workplace. My manager encouraged me to speak up more and ask more questions, no matter how crazy! Moreover, in my final week, the HR team gave more space for me to propose a social media strategy concerning BGF Careers. I was able to look into what BGF already has to offer and also give advice on what more they can do to attract and engage more talent. My presentation was praised highly, and the team encouraged me to share my findings with the Marketing team. I felt my confidence boost; I’m so delighted to have done a project they were proud to share across the company.
How did you find the virtual internship experience?
I never imagined having to do an internship virtually. When you’re in the office it’s easy enough after the morning meeting to casually ask someone “hey, can I throw some time on your calendar?”. But now that everything has gone virtual, this is generally much harder and just super awkward. My advice would be to jump out of your comfort zone and send them an email or message! My experience at BGF has been brilliant; I’ve had lots of virtual coffees and catch-ups on Teams. At the end of the call, always ask “shall we do this again next week?”. This way, you come across as approachable, and everyone will know who you are eventually. So, although it was a different experience, it was rewarding.
I look forward to visiting the office when we all return to work/uni.”
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