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Ogden alumnus: Shami Smith-Sandhu

Published: 9 January 2018

I was first introduced to The Ogden Trust during my time at Healing School – a specialist science college (now known as Healing School – A Science Academy) as the Trust was a key sponsor for the science department in the school. While undertaking my GCSEs at the school, I was awarded The Ogden Trust Mathematics Prize after achieving the highest mark in GCSE maths for my school year. Following on from this, I maintained a relationship with The Ogden Trust and in 2010 was lucky enough to be awarded an Ogden undergraduate scholarship to study Architectural Environment Engineering at the University of Nottingham. This scholarship helped significantly with my living and educational expenses, ensuring I could attend all the relevant trips and excursions for my course and dedicate my time to my studies without having to get part-time work to help cover living costs.

Following the great support I had received from The Trust, I decided to apply for their summer internship programme while studying at university, and was fortunate to be offered an eight-week placement at Ocado, the British online supermarket, based in Hatfield. During my time at Ocado I worked as part of the Non-Food Business Development team, and gained vast amounts of experience in the retail and consumer industry, in particular the methodologies and benefits of using data analysis to improve a company’s service and product.

After the success of my time at Ocado, I applied for another summer internship in 2013 and was offered a six-week placement at Spencer Ogden, the energy, infrastructure and engineering recruitment consultancy, based in Central London. My first two weeks at Spencer Ogden were spent developing my skills as a recruiter in their Graduate Training Academy and I then went on to join the renewables recruitment team, as I had gained a lot of interest and knowledge in renewables during my studies at university.

Undertaking both of these placements meant that I was able to get invaluable insight into the working world, which helped me understand the commercial aspects of STEM as well as gain a lot of confidence in myself when it came to applying for a graduate job. Until these internships, I had only experienced academia and I would not have been able to attain such high-level commercial experience if it wasn’t for The Ogden Trust.

In 2013, following graduation, I got a role as a fire engineer in a large multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, where I worked for 18 months. I was then invited, in 2015, to join a new, independent engineering consultancy in London. After spending two years slowly building up our company’s size and portfolio, we decided we were in the position to be able to offer an internship to a student in the summer of 2017.

Being an engineering company, we thought it would be mutually beneficial to offer the internship to a current STEM student as they would understand the problems we faced each day as engineers and would be able to apply their academic knowledge to help solve these problems. With this in mind, I immediately thought of the Ogden Trust summer internship scheme that I had previously taken part in and contacted the Trust to see if they might be able to help us find an intern. We joined the internship programme in 2017 as a host organisation and, instead of being an intern on the scheme, I now found myself as the supervisor for another Ogden intern.

The thought of having an intern to supervise was daunting at first. However, I was able to draw on my experiences as an intern in the past to be able to understand what an intern would normally expect on their first day and during the internship as a whole. As a supervisor, my two key aims were to make sure the intern was enjoying their time with us over summer and to ensure they were learning and developing, personally and professionally, as a result of the work they were undertaking. We were able to talk with the intern prior to the placement starting, and define what particular aspects of the role they would be most interested in learning about and getting involved in. It can also be noted that the team at the Ogden Trust were extremely helpful with any queries or questions we had in the lead up to the internship, and made sure everything was prepared and ready for the intern’s first day. Upon reflection, the internship could not have been any more successful in our eyes and we were extremely pleased with the contributions made by our intern and by their overall work ethic.

As a company, we very much hope to be involved in the summer internship scheme again and I personally look forward to staying in touch with The Ogden Trust for the duration of my career.
December 2017
Shami Smith-Sandhu, Ogden alumnus

Shami is pictured with Luke Buxton, the Ogden summer intern at Astute Fire. Luke was recognised as one of the outstanding interns for 2017.

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