In October 2019, Who Cares? Scotland supported Disclosure Scotland to create a bespoke internship opportunity for a Care Experienced person.
Natalie Wright, an Accountancy student from the University of Stirling, was the successful applicant. We caught up with Natalie and her workplace mentor, Shona Adams, Organisational Development & Change Adviser, Disclosure Scotland, to see how the internship was progressing.
So, Shona, how did this exclusive internship for a Care Experienced person come about?
Working alongside our Corporate Governance team who lead on our Corporate Parenting duties, this internship falls under the remit of our role to provide opportunities for Care Experienced young people. This is the first time we’ve created a bespoke opportunity like this, and we didn’t want to do something without really thinking about it first. We wanted to do it right.
We created a job description that was jargon-free and as appealing as possible. We decided to pay Real Living Wage. By partnering with Who Cares? Scotland, we selected seven candidates to interview. The interviews were really good. I tried to make people feel as comfortable as possible. Right from the start we were clear that what mattered most was not past experience; our focus was more on what people could gain from this opportunity. Natalie is doing quite a specialist degree subject and we felt she could really benefit from the exposure to different departments we can provide her with.
Natalie, what have you been getting up to in your intern role?
So far, I’ve spent time with the finance department, supported a Corporate Parenting plan participation event, facilitated a day of filming at Atlantic Quay, met with the Corporate Governance team and worked on Disclosure’s materials for the Who Cares? Scotland’s 2019 Love Rally. I’ve also met the Chief Exec, Lorna Gibbs, who was really nice. I was also invited through to Edinburgh for the day to spend time with the department for children and families.
The main thing I’ve learnt here at Disclosure is that the process in terms of background checks is not black and white. I used to think it was simple – if you’ve got a criminal record you can’t do a lot of jobs. But it’s not like that. A lot of consideration and discussion goes into each individual case, with multiple people involved. We look into the context of each situation in depth, taking into account someone’s circumstances and background. It is a really interesting process.
It seems like you two have a really good relationship.
Shona: I deliberately designed this internship so that Natalie is job shadowing other people and has me as a kind of mentor. We’re more like pals, really. We have a laugh.
Natalie: I’m always checking in with Shona. When I first started here, I felt nervous, but now things feel more natural.
What advice do you have for other young people who are starting out in their careers, Natalie?
Even if you think you won’t get an opportunity, apply for it. Just find a spare hour and do the application. I was really surprised when I got this internship. I didn’t expect to get it.
What’s next for you Natalie?
I finish university in 2021. I had always thought I would go on to be an accountant, because I did accountancy in school and kept on doing it. But it has been really interesting to see what else is out there, and what other job roles have to offer. So, I’m starting to think that there could be other career options for me.
Shona, does Disclosure Scotland want to do something like this again? What has the impact been?
Absolutely, we want to do this again. At a recent Who Cares? Scotland Corporate Parenting/Careers event, we were very inspired as to how we could improve our Corporate Parenting plan. This internship brings Corporate Parenting into the heart of the organisation, and it is just one way we can fulfil our duties. The impact that this has had on me personally is that I now actively seek out information on Care Experienced people – for example, my team and I look at all your social media and events. We actively educate ourselves and want to stay involved in what’s going on. We are interested in the Care Experienced community.
In terms of this internship, other government departments are watching what we’re doing and following suit, which is great!
We’re delighted to announce that since this interview took place Disclosure Scotland have offered Natalie a part-time job, which she was pleased to accept.
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