From intern to manager in 4 months: how an internship with a new business made my career

I think I applied for about 500 jobs in the space of six months before I started looking at internships again. I felt that a year after graduating, an internship wasn’t exactly the way to go. I was apprehensive about working for a minimal amount or for expenses only, to sit around and make coffee and do some occasional photocopying. I needed a real job, where I could make an immediate impact and earn enough to pay my rent.

Having been continually rejected or ignored for most full-time positions and being offered temp work that lasted at the most a month, I was getting exceedingly frustrated.

I decided to apply for a couple of internship opportunities, co-funded by Santander, that I found on the Queen Mary University, Careers website.  I then got a call from one of the Internship Coordinators informing me that I had secured an interview for a legal internship I’d applied for. I didn’t really know much about the company until the week before and spent a frantic few hours researching the role, the tasks that were required and the company. I believe that being prepared was what got me the role.

The first day I walked into the offices I was confronted with an empty room, just the CEO and a laptop. I thought to myself, “what have I gotten myself into? Is this even a real business?” I had no idea that I was about to start an internship in a start-up social enterprise, and today I’m so grateful that I did.

My fellow intern and I were thrust immediately into real work. I was asked to start drafting the Terms and Conditions, Non-Disclosure agreements and review contracts, all on the first day! I can honestly say that I have still not made a cup of coffee.

I saw and helped the start-up grow from a guy in a room to getting into Telefonica’s incubator at Wayra UnLtd, with a brand new work space and a team of seven. I didn’t feel like I just had a job, I felt like I was part of the core of the organization because I had contributed so much to its growth. I actively wanted to work till 9pm because it wasn’t a job at just any organisation, it was my organisation now.

I cannot encourage working at start-ups enough. Due to the small team, the limited resources and the challenging environment, the amount that I learnt in a short space of time was invaluable. I do not think I could have experienced even a quarter of what I did, nor been as creative with the solutions I’ve had to find at a large corporation.

Being part of a small team, my opinions were immediately asked for, despite being just an intern, and they were both respected and in many cases, implemented. Because of the challenging environment, I learned an inordinate amount within a short space of time. Because of the vast and sudden progression, my role was constantly changing and I was given more and more responsibility, until I was recently appointed as Head of Legal Operations within 3 months. I now have 2 interns of my own that I manage, and on many occasions manage the running of the company when the CEO is away.

Four months ago I started out with another intern and our CEO in an empty room, on rickety wooden chairs, without basic office supplies such as a printer or scanner.  I now work in a new workspace built specifically for the Wayra UnLtd teams in Central London, and am now managing my own team in a company that also feels like my own.

Maryam Amjad
QM Law graduate 2012



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