Auditory Verbal UK has hosted several interns over the past few years via the University of Sussex’s First Generation Scholar Internship Scheme. We’ve caught up with some of our previous interns and here they tell us all about their experiences with the charity:

Abi Hitchins – Research Intern 2017

Applying to the Sussex graduate scheme was a great decision, as the scheme really gave me a springboard to start my career beyond University. It was really intimidating and overwhelming when I first started to look for jobs and think about which career path I wanted to follow. However, the scheme gave me direction and advertised some great internship opportunities with small to medium sized companies. As the companies were chosen to take part in the scheme, I felt confident that I was applying to responsible employers that wanted to help my development. The scheme made sure that all interns would have a 10-week internship that was well paid and monitored throughout.

I began at AVUK in January 2017 and felt at home as soon as I arrived. The internship was well structured, and I was given a full induction to the charity, its amazing work and the key members of staff. I was given projects that ran throughout the internship and got to see them through to conclusion. I found the weekly catch ups with my line manager really useful and was asked if there were any specific areas I wanted to develop so that my training could be tailored to my needs. Working for a small organisation was great for my development because I was given access to the senior decision makers within the charity and I quickly felt like a key member of the team.

I absolutely loved my time as an intern and would fully recommend the scheme and AVUK to anyone looking for an internship!

Kirsty Turner – Communications and PR Intern 2019

Whilst being an intern at AVUK I mainly planned, filmed and edited several videos that were posted on AVUK’s social media to spread awareness for the charity. I really enjoyed having creative freedom to produce these videos and I felt very appreciated for what I ended up with. One of the videos I created, called ‘Callum’s Quest’, was my favourite as it explored a family’s journey through their time at AVUK. I had the pleasure of meeting Callum’s family and learning first-hand how they felt towards the charity and how AVUK will positively impact Callum for the rest of his life.

In my first week at AVUK, I met with Anita and she talked me through how cochlear implants and hearing aids work. I had little prior knowledge of how the technology actually worked and it opened my eyes to know that you hear with your brain, not your ears. For a hearing person, it is hard to initially think how this works, but Auditory Verbal therapy helps children to understand these sounds so the brain can decipher what they mean.

I still had one year of University left after my internship at AVUK, which I have just finished. My time at AVUK gave me a real interest in deafness and I wanted to link this to my Media and Communications dissertation. I decided to write my dissertation on ‘How do deaf audiences feel about the way they are represented in Advertising: A comparative reception study’. My strong interest in deafness meant that I really enjoyed putting this together (and I’m not much of a writer), and I managed to achieve a first – which I am over the moon with! This may not have happened without my internship at AVUK sparking my interest in issues surrounding deafness. I am currently now looking for jobs similar to what I did at AVUK, either PR or content production – hopefully I will find something soon!

Louisa Pakenham-Walsh – Research Intern 2017-18

I completed my internship at AVUK after finishing my degree at the University of Sussex. During my time here I worked as a researcher, which involved writing a literature review on a condition called Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) in relation to Auditory Verbal therapy.

I wanted to do the internship at AVUK because I thought it was a great opportunity to use the skills I had learnt in my Psychology degree in a research-based role, while contributing to a positive cause. My experience was thoroughly enjoyable as I received a lot of support, but was also given the responsibility to work independently on the research project. I learnt a lot about Auditory Verbal therapy, and even though I hadn’t heard of it before my internship, I now see it as a really important tool for teaching deaf children how to listen and speak.

After leaving AVUK, I spent a bit of time travelling before applying for jobs and I now work full-time for a research agency called IFF Research. In my role as a Research Executive I carry out research for lots of different public and private sector clients. The internship at AVUK has definitely helped me in my day-to-day role here because of the similar skills required. It was a great experience overall and I found it very rewarding. I would definitely recommend an internship at AVUK to anyone who has the opportunity.

Sophie Buckmaster – Communications and PR Intern 2020

I wanted to do an internship because I thought it was a great way to keep busy over the summer and when I read about AVUK, I knew I wanted to help raise awareness of the life-changing work that they do. Prior to my internship, I had little knowledge about deafness but from speaking to various members of the team I quickly started to learn.

Throughout my internship, I’ve been able to get involved with lots of exciting communications projects. My main role has been creating engaging content for the website, and something I’ve really enjoyed doing is writing case studies. It’s great to speak to families and hear first-hand how Auditory Verbal therapy (AVT) has helped to create a sound future for their child. I’ve also been able to get involved with some creative social media projects. I recently put together an animated video to thank children who have fundraised for us and I really enjoyed doing this. As I started my internship remotely, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t get to know the team very well but everyone is so lovely and I’ve really felt like part of the team.

I went into my internship with an interest in communications but with no real idea what I wanted to do for a career in the future. My experience as a Communications and PR intern for AVUK has made me realise I would really enjoy a career in communications, particularly in the charity sector. I’m excited to see what the future holds for AVUK and I really hope that eventually all deaf babies and children will have the opportunity to access AVT.

Rachel Pollard – Research Intern 2020

I discovered Auditory Verbal UK when I was looking for an internship through the University of Sussex careers department. After looking into the work that they do, I knew that it would be an incredible opportunity to work with them over the summer. I was excited to gain some valuable experience while also supporting a really worthwhile cause. Before applying for the internship, I knew nothing about AVT and very little about hearing loss in children. I’m amazed at how much I have learnt over the last eight weeks, and am incredibly impressed by the outcomes that hearing impaired children can achieve with AVT.

During my research internship, I have been looking into the effectiveness of Auditory Verbal therapy (AVT) via telepractice. I have played an important role in obtaining feedback from families as well as clinicians in order for the organisation to identify areas for improvement. I have also had the opportunity to contribute to global research by gathering data for First Voice, an international network of listening and spoken language centres. Towards the end of my time with AVUK, I also worked on creating a predictive model for children’s language outcomes based on previous assessment scores. As a maths student, this was something that I really enjoyed.

I chose to carry out this internship because I thought that I might like to work in the charity sector after completing my degree. Now that I am nearing the end of the placement, I feel that the experience has confirmed that working for a charity is something that I want to pursue. I would like to thank the AVUK team for making me feel so welcome. Everyone is so lovely and they were always willing to take time out of their busy schedules to help me or answer any of my questions.

Alexander Kewn- Communications and Fundraising Intern 2016

The University of Sussex’s First Generation Scholar Internship Scheme offered me a chance to learn about working in the real world at the perfect time in my education. Obtaining a degree can undoubtedly have tremendous value, but having the opportunity to put the theoretical skills one learns at university into practice is equally important before moving on and tackling the world of work alone. To be able to do this while earning was huge for me.

I was involved with so much in my ten weeks with AVUK. I learned how to write press releases, web articles, and newsletters. I assisted with the planning of various events the charity puts on throughout the year. I created AVUK’s very first digital media database, and I was always included in any decision making related to the team.

Most memorably, on just my second day with AVUK, I was trusted with the privilege of attending the very first Power of Speech event, held bi-annually at the House of Commons. Here I saw first-hand not only the incredible outcomes AVUK made possible for deaf children, but also what it meant for their families, and the impression it leaves on influential figures, such as MP’s, when they learn about our work.

Eventually I went on to graduate from Sussex in summer 2017, before quickly securing a job as a Communications Officer for a national disabilities charity. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the internship I did with AVUK that had set me aside from other graduate applicants, and it was the skills I learned here that enabled me to hit the ground running and succeed in the job.

I say that I learned these vital communication skills “here”, because I actually re-joined Auditory Verbal UK in August 2018 and have therefore just celebrated two years back with the organisation. Looking back on the past four years makes me feel tremendously proud about what AVUK has achieved in such a short space of time. The organisation we work in now shouts louder about the vital work our clinical team do in setting up every deaf child with the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers, and our voice carries further into securing vital connections with other organisations at home and abroad.

Both Sussex’s First Generation Scholar Internship Scheme and Auditory Verbal UK have brought me happy and purposeful first years in the working world, and for that I am eternally grateful.