An intern’s perspective, catching up with Emily Wightman

13 October 2020. Features.

Emily Wightman was a part of the 2019/20 Peldon Rose annual design internship from Nottingham Trent University. Having returned to university in September following a successful placement year, we caught up with Emily to understand how the internship has set her up to complete final year of studies, and the impact of the workplace on her generation.

What university learnings did you apply during your internship?

In the first two years of university, the main software we used is AutoCAD, having this prior knowledge made the initial stages of the internship much easier, but I certainly learnt the software in a lot more depth during my time at Peldon Rose.

Throughout my placement year I also used tools such as Sketchup, InDesign and Photoshop for visuals and presentations.

Beyond this we learned essential presentational skills, written etiquette, and networking – skills I believe that you can only learn on the job.

How has the internship set you up for final year of studies?

Personally, I feel a lot more confident in my work and skillset going into final year. Regular use of software is an obvious one, however I have developed my communication skills massively, feeling able to ask for help when needed, and managing myself efficiently.

I have previously struggled with time management and I am definitely guilty of procrastination, so I think the routine of the 08:30 - 17:30 working day has helped me to learn to focus for a more prolonged period of time (and wake up in the morning…!).

How has the internship provided insights into a workplace career?

I knew very little about the world of design and build prior to starting at Peldon Rose, and I certainly didn’t know much about commercial office design either. I had never previously worked in an office environment, and I was a little worried it’d be a bit, dare I say, boring?

It was far from boring; every day was different. I was in and out of the office for team meetings to site visits, and the fact the office is designed based on principles of activity-based working, enabled me to collaborate with my team and interact with the wider business, as well as stopping me accumulate desk junk!

Beyond Peldon Rose I also learned industry standards, processes, and supply chain. I feel I have learned about other career options beyond design and build, too. Completing the placement has put me in a stronger position to apply for roles after graduation, not only the CV experience, but how to market myself as a person, which I’m really grateful for.

What has the internship taught you about the value of the workplace?

I know there has been a lot of debate about whether the office is still necessary due to Covid-19, so much so that many companies have invested heavily in technology for staff to work at home and are still able to function normally.

However, after experiencing the lockdown first hand, I believe there is still a need for offices and if anything, the pandemic has proven it; we might be able to work from home, but it is not sustainable for everyone. Having a workplace allows separation between home and work life both in terms of time and space. As someone who had to work out of their bedroom during the pandemic, I was keen to get back to the office!

In terms of mental health, the workplace provides a space for social interaction and friendships, and at times is a reason to get ready in the morning. As someone who had moved to a new city for the internship, Sterling House acted as a ‘social crutch’ for me, going to work and socialising with colleagues was one of the only reasons I’d leave the house before I started making more friends.

At the top of the mountain on the company ski trip – my first time skiing!

At the top of the mountain on the company ski trip – my first time skiing!

It becomes easy to avoid people and problems when the only method of communication is electronic. Apparently, it’s very ‘Gen Z’ of me to say this but: I would choose a nice working environment over a bigger paycheck. Being able to afford to live comfortably is vital, but I’m a big believer in the ‘work to live don’t live to work’ ethos.

What have you missed since completing your internship?

I miss lots of people from Peldon Rose as well as the other friends I made in London now that I am back in Nottingham. I consider a lot of my ex-colleagues’ friends now and have kept in touch with most of them, including my line manager Jonathan Dawes ‘JD’, who was like a father figure (a cool one) and still checks in on me. Even the people I didn’t speak to outside the office and would say hello on the stairs or at the tea point. I miss regularly seeing along with the bustle of the office environment, social events and London, pre-COVID.

I used to run regularly with COO Alan Jamieson and technical services manager Rob Dekenhah. No longer having a running buddy has allowed me to get a bit lazy since leaving, it’s time I bite the bullet and get my running shoes out the wardrobe... (I’m sure I’ll receive a WhatsApp message when Alan sees this to remind me to stop being a lazy bugger!).

Not looking my best after a 10k trail run (with slightly red hair from spice girls fancy dress I’d worn the night before!)

How has Covid impacted your return to uni?

We haven’t fully started back yet, and I am still not sure what to expect. I know most of our studies is going to be over Microsoft Teams and our submissions will probably be digital too –the main perk of this is less paper waste at least. I’m lucky to be living in a pretty big house with six friends, so I’m hoping I shouldn’t feel too isolated but I’m hoping to still do well in my degree.

What are you looking forward to after graduation?

With the way things are right now, I’d like to say a bit more ‘normality’. I was looking forward to travelling with friends for a couple of months and hopefully getting a graduate job in London – only time will tell. Peldon Rose is definitely a place I could see myself working in the future, I’d love to come back post uni!

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