Isabelle, the first Wikimedia UK Intern, has finished her internship on 21 September 2012. Here is a message from her written on the last day in the office:
Today is the final day of my internship at Wikimedia UK, and now that the last few things have been wrapped up or handed over to my lovely successor Hasina, I have time to reflect a little on my past six weeks here.
Considering this has been a bit of a trial run for the office, having never had an intern before, as far as I’m concerned it couldn’t have gone better! They welcomed me with such warmth and explained everything so well that the ‘settling-in’ process took all of a day and I quickly felt comfortable as part of the team. I’ve particularly enjoyed working in an office building with numerous other charities doing interesting and worthwhile things, and where the environmentally-friendly ethos is proudly upheld.
The time has certainly gone quickly but it’s been long enough to achieve some things that I’m rather proud of!
Firstly, the compilation of a database of contacts at every university in the UK which then enabled us to mail out our Education Booklets to over 300 academics, plus many more digitally. This was a key process in raising awareness of the Education Program amongst teaching specialists who will hopefully realise the potential of Wikipedia in education practices, and this database of contacts should be a useful resource in the future.
This led into the EduWiki Conference in Leicester (5-6 September 2012), which was the highlight of my internship. It was extremely satisfying to see everything come together and the preparation pay off when the two-day event (the first of its kind) took place with great success. For me it was nice to put faces to the names I had been adding to lists and printing onto badges, and to see the passion of the attendees as they shared their ideas and experiences, and returned to their various posts with fresh optimism about the progress that can be achieved by collaborating with Wikimedia. This was certainly the largest event I have helped to organise and was therefore a valuable experience in working on such a scale and over two days.
Although I was unable to attend the GLAMcamp in London at the British Library I did assist during the run-up, booking flights and accommodation for GLAMcampers coming from all over Europe to attend, as well as a few from the UK, and arranging the restaurants for the all-important evening meals. There was certainly a lesson to be learnt in making group hostel bookings! But I believe the weekend went well, and I’m sure next year’s GLAM conference will be even more of a success.
As well as making the odd cup of tea or coffee, I also made myself useful in the office by helping out with the annual accounts, sourcing expenses claims to fill in a few gaps which involved a bit of detective work that was actually quite fun! I made the acquaintance of the franking machine and the shredder, too – happy memories. And my French skills even came in handy when a document on Wikimedia Commons needed translating, so my seemingly irrelevant degree actually did have some use!
All in all I’ve had a genuinely fulfilling experience working for Wikimedia UK. I’ve felt valued by the team and been allowed responsibility and independence in the tasks set for me, which have been varied and interesting. More importantly I’ve met some fantastic people with overwhelming knowledge and dedication, who have convinced me that in nine months’ time (maybe ten – I’ll give myself a few weeks off!) when I’ve finished my Masters and I’m looking for my first ‘real’ job, the charity sector is the first place I’ll look.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Wikimedia UK, especially Daria and Richard who have been such wonderful managers, and all of the board members and volunteers I’ve met along the way who have been so supportive to a newcomer like myself. Thanks to WereSpielChequers I now have the basic skills to edit Wikipedia, so I can continue to contribute to the Wikimedia mission of free and open knowledge for all wherever I go next.