A Send Off – Student Internship

Hi everyone!

You won’t know me, but I’m Ashleigh, a student intern from Sheffield Hallam University who has been working as the Digital Media and Communications Manager for The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield over the last couple of months.

Basically, I’ve been behind the scenes filming, editing and writing content for the website and using social media to promote what the project does. Now that it’s August, we’ve reached the end of my time here, and what an experience it’s been.

I knew getting into this that the amount of food waste is deplorable, but it really was a shock to see the sheer level of daily food waste just in Sheffield alone, especially considering the project only intercepts a small fraction of the stores around. What’s more, there’s the reasons why. A lot of the time it’s simply a case of low storage, with food that’s sent out having no place to return to other than the bin.

And so I wanted to support the project, and it became my job to promote it so that others could do the same. Being someone who loves organisation, I loved the challenge of monitoring numerous social media platforms and creating content regular enough to stay in the public eye without causing spam. It’s something I’d done before on a smaller scale, so having to adapt to a much broader scope helped me strengthen my organisation skills and forward-thinking, after planning weeks in advance and juggling ideas without any clashes or mishaps.

But it’s fair to say the skill I’ve gained most from this experience is adaptability skills. Though my job was to act as the Digital Media Manager, the project is run from volunteers, usually leading to me helping wherever else I could. From helping with the organisation of food to acting as service for the catering, I found myself adapting to many unexpected situations and learning to take it all in my stride. Not only that, but the skills I already had in design and digital media were adapted to be more flexible, as I had to design graphics to suit the project rather than the style I was automatically used to; my own.

Having not worked as part of a team before, working as part of this social enterprise helped me build my communication skills, from having to adapt my style depending on whether I was talking to co-workers, volunteers, customers, the press, the public via social media or even the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, at one point. It’s a skill I needed to gain and wouldn’t have succeeded without, as I needed to find out enough about the project to be able to create accurate content and talk about it confidently both in person and in writing. I know that going forward, this will be something valuable to me in my future work that I had been missing before.

I’m glad to have had this experience and to have been part of the project. I know for sure I’ll be keeping up to date and watching how the project progresses over time. Here’s to more years of feeding bellies, not bins!

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