Interested in our summer internships? Former intern Alex tells us what it's like working for Breast Cancer Now and how volunteering his time helped him become a full-time member of our Philanthropy Team.

Thursday 14 April 2016      Student Fundraising blog
Alex with Glen Jackson

Alex with international rugby referee, Glen Jackson, at a Breast Cancer Now event

I interned with the Student Fundraising Team at Breast Cancer Now (back then Breast Cancer Campaign) for a month in the summer of 2014, which means I was probably writing my application for the internship around this time two years ago – that makes me feel incredibly old! I now work full time in the Philanthropy team at Breast Cancer Now and I love my job.

Getting the role

I remember thinking that I didn’t have a chance of actually landing the internship, as I hadn’t been an exec of my university RAG, Karni, I had only been a rep. I also found writing about myself slightly awkward, but you are going to have to do it countless times in your life, so you may as well start somewhere.

Then came the day of the interview. I was nervous, but I went in feeling confident that they would see how much I wanted the role. We spoke about my experience and why I wanted to volunteer my time. The interviewers helped me relax from the very start of the interview, so I felt really comfortable. I was actually more nervous after the interview because I was really hoping I had got the internship.

I was fortunate enough to get the call saying that I had and now that I knew I had the hallowed second year summer internship, I could chill. I really wanted to get started, so the first day of the internship couldn’t come soon enough!

Starting out

In my first week, I met the other interns and we did the classic ice breakers and got to know each other a bit, which was nice and reassured me that I knew what I was doing. It was also the first time I met Florence, who now works in the student team full time, which really shows that volunteering your time for an internship does help prepare you for a job!

This may sound stupid, but the time I started I felt like a real adult (a feeling I rarely get now) was commuting with purpose every day. I decided to come in five days a week for the month, in order to get the most out of my time here, but there was flexibility around this, so investigate the options and see what suits you.

I had lots of varied tasks during my time but there were a few that really stood out, the biggest being ‘Breastival’. This was the creation of a stall for the national RAG conference at the University of York. This gave me and Vikki, a fellow intern, free rein to bring the concept to life, which we did – resulting in wristbands, hay bales and pink fencing, amongst other things.

Making a difference

Another major project of ours was to create a new fundraising product that promoted innovation and entrepreneurial activity, growing an initial investment through fundraising. You may recognise this idea as Innovate Now, which is currently something that the Student Team work on with RAGs across the country.

This is another thing that is great about the internship, you are actually contributing to real work that is actually going to be used. This is good for both sides, you can chat about genuine value added in any subsequent interviews you have and the charity get a fresh set of eyes and input. You are trusted to run and present a campaign to your managers from start to finish that will have an effect on actual fundraising, so you really feel like you're making a difference.

Exciting experiences

I also helped out on the campaign stall at the Excel centre for the Prudential Ride London. This was a great way to meet people who had registered to ride for us and see how enthusiastic they were about our cause. There were loads of exciting stalls (if you are into cycling) and Martin Johnson, the Rugby World Cup winning captain, was there giving a talk as he was riding that year. That was pretty awesome, but I did feel like a small child as he is a giant!

The very last thing I did during my internship, the National RAG conference, actually happened after my placement had ended. I got to go on behalf of Breast Cancer Campaign, alongside my colleagues, to the event that I created. The buzz was insane, everyone was chatting to each other, there were freebies all over the shop, and everyone was loving our festival wristbands. It was really exciting to talk to the people who would be raising money for us and tell them about all of the new stuff the charity would be doing that year.

All in all, it was pretty great experience. It set me up well for a job and I had a great time while doing it – what more could you ask for!

What next?

Now, I am a part of the philanthropy team, working mainly with major donors and on special events. While this is a completely different area of fundraising to what I worked on during my internship, there are a lot of parallels, and I only got to discover that the role even existed while in the office. So even if you are unsure of what career path you want to take, this is a great platform for any career, whether in the charity sector or not.

On top of all the great experience, it is the friendliest work environment I have ever been in, and this has been corroborated by other colleagues that have more experience in these things, so it is definitely worth applying! What are you waiting for?

Apply for an internship

Interested in joining Breast Cancer Now for a summer internship? Find out about the roles available and get your application in!


About the author

Alex Ayoade

Alex is a Philanthropy Executive at Breast Cancer Now. He first became involved with Breast Cancer Now through one of our legacy charities via student fundraising.

He is an easy going, fun-loving individual who is truly passionate about ensuring that we meet our 2050 goal.

The Philanthropy Team works with high-net-worth individuals, helping them invest in breast cancer research that is both value for money and works to save lives.