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What I learned at my BGF internship
Khadijat Ajonbadi is one of 16 interns who took part in BGF’s 2022 eight-week paid internship programme. Khadijat worked with the marketing team, based in London.
1. Lead with the hook
On the second day of my internship, BGF held a communication skills workshop for us interns, which consisted of fun activities and challenges. My biggest takeaway was to structure a pitch with a ‘hook, line, then sinker’.
I have identified that this structure is effective for any form of communication, whether it is a pitch, social media post, presentation or introducing yourself when networking. I am glad I learned this early on, as it enabled me to confidently express my ideas and engage my audience.
Through leading with the hook, a connection is formed between you and your audience; they are engaged and committed to the conversation. Using this format, I have built rapport with people sooner and easier. Within the marketing sphere, it has resulted in better engagement with my social posts.
2. Ask questions and stay curious
BGF hosted several senior spotlights and career overviews, which gave the interns insights into the career trajectories of experienced professionals across all departments of BGF. Through them, I have found that there are several benefits to active listening and curiosity.
The primary benefit is that through listening, you learn. Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” There are many things I have been able to uncover by listening attentively and asking follow-up questions. I am reminded of how a doctor diagnoses a patient with an uncommon illness through a line of open-ended questions and actively listening out for their symptoms.
The hidden gem of asking questions is that it can spark enjoyable conversation and genuine connections. If, like me, you are reserved or introverted, I highly recommend asking questions. It shows genuine interest in the person you are speaking to, which is appreciated and, in turn, helps to build rapport. But, to ask good questions and leave a good impression, you must be truly engaged, or you risk asking a question they have already answered, or answered indirectly, which is counterproductive.
3. The best way to learn is by doing and, most importantly, learning
Over the course of my internship, I was assigned a list of scheduled activities, tasks and responsibilities. But, wherever I saw an opportunity to help a team member, I volunteered a helping hand. Marketing is a dynamic industry; within BGF, newsworthy events occur at least once a day, whether it is a new investment, exit or event being hosted. I volunteered to help my team with ad-hoc tasks whenever I could, which often meant I had to learn on the job. I tried to do this even if it meant risking a mistake that might embarrass myself. Experientia docet, experience teaches.
Being willing to learn on the spot exposed me to elements of marketing sooner, and consolidated my knowledge of topics I first encountered at university. It also allowed me to give the entire experience my best effort. Volunteering to try new things can lead to a better outcome for my team.
At BGF, I learnt that a mentee-mentor relationship is mutual. Even though a mentee has a lot to gain, you must have something to give to truly benefit from the relationship.
4. The more I did something that felt unnatural, the more fluent I became
My internship at BGF was my first in-person, 9-5 office job. As an overthinker, I sometimes prevent myself from doing things because the bulk of my decision time is spent considering the ‘what ifs’ and consequences of putting myself out there. I had a preconceived notion of what the corporate world was like from movies such as The Devil Wears Prada, which is hardly the best representation or educational source. The lesson it teaches is that interns are supposed to keep their heads down and not bother the experienced professionals!
However, by taking advantage of working in person, I disregarded my inner worry-bot, pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and introduced myself to almost every new face I saw in the office. Over time it became easier to introduce myself and network, and I became more comfortable. This is chiefly because the BGF staff, regardless of their position, are approachable, but I also recognise that if I did not try, I would not have known how friendly and supportive they are.
5. There’s only an opportunity to learn when you spot and appreciate an opportunity to learn
From the beginning of my internship experience with BGF, I identified that BGF has a fantastic culture. The work environment at BGF differs from the stories I’ve heard about the investment industry and the corporate world. It is not aloof, hierarchical and dictatorial, but in fact, collegiate, collaborative, purposeful and accommodating.
I immersed myself in the culture because these are traits that I want to adopt outside BGF, and in any team environment. I believe I can benefit from adopting the traits I admire in the people around me, from the warmth of the front of house staff, Kiran, Nina and Russell, to Stephen’s gracious and thoughtful leadership.
Overall, this experience has been more than a box to tick and a title to add to my CV. It has offered me many cherished takeaways. I believe it will positively influence my relations with others and my decision-making.
In BGF’s 2022 summer internship programme, 16 interns were placed in eight regional offices in the UK and Ireland. Each intern worked within a team, including investment, marketing, IT, finance and the Talent Network. BGF collaborated with university and student societies across the UK and Ireland to make the paid internship scheme as accessible as possible.
BGF team: Marketing
Which office are you based in: London
University degree: Management (marketing), University of Manchester
Where do you live: Essex
Interests/hobbies outside of work: Basketball, fashion design
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