Natalie Bowers, Leisure and Culture

Natalie - Intern 2019"I am a History graduate from the University of York. My placement has been shaped by my work both within Leisure and Culture and within the Intern group. I have worked with the Parks team on the behind-the-scenes work on promoting the parks and their uses. The majority of my work was based in the office at West Suffolk House but my work also incorporated visits to parks and sites to try and understand the perspective from the ground.

I really appreciated that it was clear that departmental work was tailored to my personal strengths and interests. Within the parks team, the projects set gave me a broad insight into the social side of maintaining parks. I was tasked with redrafting the bylaws for the parks of West Suffolk to replace the antiquated current bylaws. As a part of this, I had to understand the behaviours that were affecting the management of the parks and implement improvements to this within legislation. Additionally, I was asked to research open space provision for a supplementary planning document. This allowed me to understand the human geography of West Suffolk and the standards that exist for parks provision. By the end of this, I had calculated the total provision of public open spaces and compare these figures to the proportionate ideal provision. My third project was the initial research for the Abbey Gardens’ marketing leaflet. As I was asked to begin with the historical research, I was in my element and could breeze through the reading at a pace that exceeded expectations. I enjoyed the aspect of this project that allowed us to manage the interpretation of the ruins; we could retell the story to most intrigue the public.

With the intern project itself, as the project manager, we were thrown in at the deep end and to follow the metaphor, we learnt to swim very quickly. We got excellent experience as our internship progressed. In ourselves, we were a cross-section of the council and as such it was interesting to see their influences in interdepartmental work. I was able to implement a more agile system for delivering our project goals, with individuals taking on specific roles and responsibilities within the team. This meant that we could become experts in our aspects of the project plan, whilst I oversaw and ensured that people were not being overworked. By managing the others roles, I got an insight into many different aspects; events management, budget planning, data analysis, marketing and I was able to make important contacts within the community who will continue to stay in touch with the Skills Team for the legacy of our Skills Development Programme. This experience was truly a golden ticket for the future.

Coming to this internship, I couldn’t have really expected how it was going to turn out. I went from being incredibly timid on my first day, to volunteering myself as Project Manager, to presenting to senior members of staff with unprecedented confidence. All of this development was bolstered by the comprehensive training courses that run alongside your internship programme. With the amount of invaluable skills that I have learnt both personally and professionally, I really do recommend this placement to others."