QInterns: The Employer’s Story

A few weeks ago QIntern Rayla Novais da Costa told us about her time as a Nanotechnologist at Applied Nanodectors. Now, Dr Victor Higgs, founder and managing director of the organisation writes about why all small companies can benefit from employing an intern.

Why did you decide to offer an internship in your company?

We are currently developing our new sensor platform for medical applications, and using an intern gives us short-term support to help us manage our workflow to accomplish immediate business objectives. The internship helps the student understand the challenges of working for a nanotechnology based SME. The student gains experience, develops new skills, and it allows us to assess her abilities for future job opportunities with Applied Nanodetectors Ltd.


In what way has your company benefited by having an intern on board?

The intern worked on testing and development of our new sensor platform and her work allowed us to improve the sensor fabrication process and develop some new applications.

How has the QInterns scheme made a difference to your company?

The QInterns scheme enabled use find students with the correct skill set for our internship project. We were provided with a list of potential applicants in a very efficient way. All the student application letters were well written and well researched. The students who were interviewed were well prepared and very professional.

What made this internship a success?

The internship was very successful and we have made a significant step in the sensor platform development. Also the student’s proactive approach and dedication to detail enabled a greater scientific understanding of the sensor fabrication process. As a consequence of her internship we have accelerated the sensor development program.

Would you take an intern again and what is your advice to other small-medium enterprise companies in relation to taking on interns?

We will definitely take an intern to work on future projects. Interns can help small companies in many ways by increasing productivity, testing drive talent and finding future employees. My direct advice to SMEs considering  setting up an internship, is to identify a specific project that a student could work on, develop a job description for the project, review student applications and carefully interview the students to ensure they meet the company requirements.


Opportunity Knocks! QInterns, QProjects & QTemps



School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) is a ground breaking charity that uses sport and other challenging activities to teach life-changing values and lessons. These enable participants to take positive and definite steps towards employment or further education. Their courses also powerfully address issues of physical and emotional health, anti-social behaviour, crime and citizenship.

SOHK is looking to recruit an enthusiastic Graphic Design Lead to work alongside the marketing team to create content for publicity and communications, both for specific projects and on an ad-hoc basis.

Bow Food Bank is offering a unique and exciting opportunity for two Queen Mary students to join the team and review its strategic operations. You’ll research other Food Bank models nationally, review current operations, talk to the various volunteers and students involved and get input from the Management Committee, all with a view to developing a model of best practice and publishing this into a step-by-step guide by which the Food Bank can operate. This is a challenging and rewarding role in a rapidly-growing charity. To succeed in this role, you’ll be a self-starter, a strategic thinker and committed to the Food Bank’s aims to support vulnerable local people.


Recruitment is open for an IT Service Desk Analyst working at a genetics company near Barbican. Pay is £14.00 per hour lasting approximately 3 months with the possibility of going permanent. The role is full time and is preferable to Queen Mary Graduates.

This is a position that requires a broad understanding of IT Hardware and Software but more importantly is a willingness to learn. The post holder must be an effective self-starter able to work on own initiative to tight deadlines.


Project Assistant, Spark the Difference

Spark the Difference is a new programme to help people feel better about healthcare. We are looking to recruit an Intern to deliver a small scale project in our ‘Inspire’ and/or ‘Support’ programmes, reporting directly to the Company Director.

The placement will run for 3 months – 1 – 2 days a week – starting in November. Pay is £9.15 per hour.

My QInternship in Nanotechnology

Queen Mary University of London participates in the “Science without Borders” scheme – a scheme that enables Brazilian students to receive scholarships to study at overseas institutions for one-year undergraduate study abroad programmes as well as at postgraduate level on both split and full PhD programmes. Rayla Novais da Costa  is one of the students who participated in the scheme in 2015-2016 and has attended a year in the Biochemistry course in the School of Biological & Chemical Sciences. Below she writes about her experience of being on a QInternships placement and how she made the most of her time being here with us.

What made you apply for this particular role? 

First of all my interest in this particular role was because of the field, nanotechnology. I believe that my interest in this particular field started when, on my first semester in the university, I had to prepare a presentation about nanotechnology. Then, as my course is in the biotechnology field, when I received the e-mail about the role I was sure that this was my chance to develop my skills and to have an international experience working for a British company. So, I applied immediately.

What did you do during your experience?

My routine working for Applied Nanodetectors (AND) was basically spend the day preparing, testing and analysing data about the gas sensors. I used to arrive at the lab around 9am. Before beginning the experiments, we (Dr Victor Higgs, managing director of AND and I) usually sat down for a few minutes to prepare what should be done on that day and set an objective. Then I began to prepare the samples, run some of them before lunch, go for lunch around 1pm, return around 2pm, prepare more samples and do several analysis to see what was achieved in that day.

What did you learn from the experience?

I’ve learnt a lot during these 9 weeks. But the best thing I learnt was to how science require curiosity, dedication and passion. Everyday we faced a different situation in which I had to know how to be a scientist and look for solutions. So, in general I developed skills in physics, biochemistry, and nanotechnology that provided me with a new vision in the biotechnology field and helped me to decide what I want to be as a professional.

What surprised you about your experience?

What surprised me the most was how science coupled with technology has given a new hope to the world. I mean, working in a big lab with people from different fields, I noticed how science can help the community quality of life. Also, how technology has enhanced our chance to achieve new solutions for several diseases that concern people nowadays.


Is there anything you would do differently?

Yes. I think If I had had more time, I would have studied more about nanotechnology. Specially to try to help better the company when some problem came up. Also to understand more about the nanosensors technology before starting the practical work.

What difference did the internship make to you?

The internship basically changed me for a lifetime. As nanotechnology is a growing industry in Brazil, if I had not caught this internship I may never have this opportunity in Brazil. So I am one of the few who have this experience in my country and of course it will differentiate me when I apply for a job. In addition, my interest in nanotechnology increased my desire to learn more about it, and makes me think about following this field in my future.

What tips do you have for other students and graduates looking to apply for a QInternship?

The best thing I would say is to enjoy all the time during the graduation. Try to do everything you can at university(e.g. summer internships, research projects, tutoring, junior enterprise, student union etc). This way you will know what you like and what you dislike and choose the right thing by the end of your graduation. Also, if you are an international student from an exchange program, divide your time between university and trips; traveling is the best way to become an open minded person and it also makes you a better professional, a person that knows how to deal with people from different cultures. Trace a goal and make it happen!

Opportunity Knocks! QProjects, QInterns & QTemps



Finance Project Leader, Stratford Circus

Dynamic contemporary Performing Arts Venue, Stratford Circus, is recruiting for a Finance Project Leader to help out with a range of administrative duties.

This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in a career in the arts or finance, looking to build their CV with some hands-on administrative experience.

Two QProjects available at Providence Row

Providence Row Housing Association (PRHA) is a small, specialist housing association that focuses their attention on the East End of London, in particular Tower Hamlets, Hackney and the City. They help people who are homeless (or at risk of becoming homeless) to help themselves through a wide range of residential and non-residential services.

Providence Row is looking for a Data and Performance Project Leader and a Social Media Project Leader. If you have a knack for data, a knowledge for social media, or even if you’re just interested in a third-sector career, this is the QProject for you.


Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant

We are recruiting for an Executive Assistant for the Principal’s office working full time Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm for at least 3 months. Pay is £17.39 per hour.

Based in the Office of the Principal at Queen Mary University of London, the Executive Assistant will provide high-level and comprehensive secretarial and administrative support. This role is open to Queen Mary post graduates only.

Biospecimens Assistant

Recruitment is open at The Wolfson Institute for one organised and methodical person to assist in biospecimens operations.

Responsilbiities will include sample sorting, storage, selection and retrieval and help with database maintenance.

The post is full time starting on 2nd November and ending on the 18th December. Pay is £10 per hour.

Part Time Marketing Assistant

Recruitment is open for a part time marketing assistant working two days a week in the School of Law and Centre for Commercial Law Studies.

The pay is £14.10 per hour and the working days should be taken at the same time every week, the hiring manager is flexible so the candidate can choose which two days. Starting ASAP for at least 2 months.

This role is open to Queen Mary students and graduates only.


Earth Observation Data Analyst, Graduate Internship

The SCISYS Group is a leading developer of software and related services. Through building successful and long-term partnerships they serve a broad range of customers spanning the media broadcast, space, government, defence and commercial sectors.

SCISYS Group would like to take on one to two graduate level interns for a full-time and paid duration spanning 4-6 months in our Bristol office to start as soon as possible. The activities in the internship include data processing, data visualisation, verification and validation of the obtained information and reporting formats and structures.
Project Assistant, Spark the Difference

Spark the Difference is a new programme that creates a place for inspiration, support and doing, to help people feel better about healthcare. They are looking to recruit an Intern to deliver a small scale project in their ‘Inspire’ and/or ‘Support’ programmes, reporting directly to the company Director.

The placement will run for 3 months – 1 – 2 days a week – starting in November.

Opportunity Knocks! QInterns, QTemps & QProjects


Participation and Insights Project Lead at Mind

Mind’s equality improvement team is looking for a Project Leader to support the delivery of events and to lead on the collection and analysis of participants’ feedback, experiences and insights.

As Participation & Insights Project Lead you will play a crucial role in ensuring Mind can do this effectively and to the highest standards.

Closing date for applications is Wednesday 7th October at 5pm.


Range of QProjects available at Cystic Fibrosis Trust

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is the only UK-wide national charity making a daily difference to the lives of people with cystic fibrosis, and those who care for them. They fund research to treat and one day beat cystic fibrosis, work to drive up standards of clinical care and offer support for everyone affected by cystic fibrosis.

There are a number of QProject roles available, from Media to Strategic Partnerships to Finance. For a list of roles and job descriptions, please click here.



PA/Office Assistant

Recruitment is open for a PA/Office Assistant for a Life Science company based in Barbican. The company is part of a government lead project currently doing research into rare diseases and cancers.

Pay is £30,000-£35,000 per annum dependent on experience, working 35 hours per week Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 5:30. The role would be fixed term until the end of 2017.

Preferable applicants will be Queen Mary Graduates.


clock tower


Business Liaison and Marketing Intern

We are looking to recruit a Business Liaison and Marketing intern for our friendly and popular co-working spaces in east London: Winkley Studios and Cooks Yard.

This would be a really valuable professional experience for someone interested in the world of start-ups, co-working and social media.

This internship opportunity is 10-12 hours per week (hours will be flexible to work alongside your studies and the needs of the business) paying £9.15 per hour.


QInterns: Helping you get an internship


students 3

Internships. Everyone’s heard of them. And you probably know you are supposed to do one so that you can get the job you want when graduate. But how do you get one? What do you get one doing? And how do you know it’s a decent internship, where you’re going to learn something worthwhile, and not just be photocopying or making people tea?

Step in QInterns. This is a Careers & Enterprise initiative, designed to help QMUL students and recent graduates build their CV through practical work placements. QInterns sources bespoke internship opportunities to help students gain an insight into an industry, do meaningful work and develop specific skills.

In the last couple of years QInterns has worked with over 300 students placing them into internships in organisations including AT&T, Barts Cancer Trials Unit, EDF Trading, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley, News UK, Pfizer, Playlab, and many more.

Internships can really range in time and commitment from full time for three months during the summer, to part time during the academic term and they are open to students from any year of study (and recent graduates too). And because QMUL believes that you have the right to be paid for work that you do, all the internships we advertise pay at least National Minimum Wage/London Living Wage. Because we source the internship, you can be confident you’ll be doing interesting and worthwhile work.

So why do an internship?

Internships are not just for those who know exactly what they want to do when they graduate. In fact, internships are a great opportunity to get a real taste of a work place – which can really help you figure out if this is actually what you want to do when you finish university. You might have always pictured yourself working in Marketing – but do you know if you’ll like the work environment? You might not have a clue what you want to do – so why not get a taste of work life and see which bits you like and don’t like. Even if the internship doesn’t match exactly what jobs you end up going for when you graduate, you’ll still learn really valuable, transferable skills which any employer will find impressive.

And what have previous QInterns got to say about the experience? Natasha, who completed a QInternship at Last Word Media told us that (among other things) she gained great admin experience from her time with the company and it really opened the door for future employment:

‘Internships are an amazing opportunity to increase the skills you have and get a taster of the working world, which helps you make a decision on what career you want to choose. I have now been offered a permanent role within the company and have accepted. The internship acted as a gateway to my career.’

To see all our latest opportunities, or to register your CV for future internships, go to careers.qmul.ac.uk/qrecruit.

How the Careers Centre helped me develop my skills

The Queen Mary Careers & Enterprise Centre, based at the Mile End Campus, was started as a way of providing a gateway for students in need of work. As well as providing support with anything to do with your future career or setting up a business, the QMUL Careers & Enterprise also has three dedicated ways of helping students gain work experience and valuable skills:

  • QProjects: meaningful work experience opportunities in local charities.
  • QInterns: high-quality internships specifically sourced for students/graduates.
  • QTemps: paid part-time and temporary work.

Having been an avid user of all three, I am well-versed in the benefits of utilising the QMUL Careers service.

Starting out as a fresh-faced, inexperienced Law undergraduate, I soon realised that I had no clue what I wanted to do, but did not want to feel left behind. While many others were busy creating a formidable CV to start applying for training contracts, I found the strain of coursework time-consuming enough. But, being faced with the longest summer I had ever had, I had a stark realisation – I needed a job.

I had already had an interest in human rights and so applying for a QProject during the summer at a human rights organisation was a great start for me. It helped me develop in key areas such as my research and writing skills. I also gained valuable knowledge of working within a charity, a prospect I had started to consider during my first year.

sosa headI also used other services offered by the Careers & Enterprise Centre. Students can book appointments for practice interviews with a Careers Consultant, introducing me to the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) method of answering questions. I also learnt how to polish up my CV to show my skills in the best possible light. I found myself being more confident at interviews and finding it easier to get noticed.

Towards the end of my degree, and having a slightly better idea of what I wanted to do, I applied for a QInternship at a start-up based in London. The start-up was a PR agency that offered tailored marketing strategies. The small team meant that I could get hands on experience whereas in other, larger agencies I would have to wait years before I would get the chance. I was initially there for six months but they extended my contract for a further four months! It was fun and interesting, and I built up a network of trustworthy colleagues.

Then, having done both a QProject and QInternship role, I was able to progress easily into a QTemps position. I found myself working in the very place that helped me – as a Careers Administrative Assistant! I now help Rachael, the Senior Recruitment Office, with the administrative tasks that surround setting up a student/graduate in a temp position. So I’m developing my skills even further and learning more about careers work which is helping me to think about what I want to do.

QMUL Careers also provides a fantastic support service for recent graduates which meant even though I had graduated from Queen Mary, I could get some advice on what to do next. For example, I was directed to the JobOnline website, which has vacancies from all University of London affiliates. I could also set up email alerts for jobs which fit my specific criteria so I could take time over my applications.

Overall, the careers service played a very vital role in developing my careers prospects and supported me throughout my degree!

Aseosa Uwagboe

Administrative Assistant, Careers & Enterprise Centre