2022 marked the launch of Downe House’s Global Internship programme, offering a unique and rewarding experience for our girls to explore an array of job areas and work cultures in different countries and sectors.
Our aim is to make our girls ‘world ready’ and help them stand out in their future careers both in the UK and globally. Internships usually become part of students’ lives at university, however, we believe an early introduction to global cultures and work styles is vital and want our girls to take their first steps into the world of work early to gain a more competitive edge and enhance their CVs.
– Ms Akhtar, Director of Global Partnerships
In March 2023, Downe House’s inaugural Global Internship took place in the form of a week’s internship in Toronto, Canada. Two Sixth Form students Izzy and Eloise embarked on an experience of a lifetime with Samra Zafar, an award-winning internationally renowned speaker, bestselling author, and educator for equity, mental health, and human rights.
The girls firstly had to go through the selection process of submitting an application form and attending a short interview. For this internship in particular, interest levels were high, and the two available places were highly sought after. Following work-based health and safety training and a final departure meeting to brief them on the itinerary and logistics, Izzy and Eloise were ready to travel.
From Day 1, the girls were immersed in Ms Zafar’s busy schedule. The first item, was a business meeting in downtown Toronto in which the girls were briefed on the work Ms Zafar does. They were then set to work on researching and grant writing for Ms Zafar’s charity, Brave Beginnings. The girls helped to plan a social media strategy for the charity’s Instagram account. This included how to engage an audience and a long-term plan for monthly and weekly themes.
Later in the week, Izzy and Eloise were fortunate enough to be invited as Ms Zafar’s guests at the TD Bank International Women’s Day event in downtown Toronto, aimed at celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness about women’s equality, lobbying for accelerated gender parity, and fundraising for female-focused charities.
A highlight for both the girls was the overnight trip to South River to attend the ‘Women’s Own Resource Centre’ International Women’s Day event – run by Women Community Services.
They observed Ms Zafar deliver a speech and took photos and videos for social media. Eloise commented on the effect it had on her:
It was really impactful watching the reactions people had to what Samra was saying, and also watching the way she handled questions that were not so easy to answer. Talking with Samra about human rights was also extremely interesting and really opened my eyes to the inequality that still exists today. She was very friendly and accommodating, and it was amazing getting to know such an inspiring person.
– Eloise, LVI
Both girls returned from the trip inspired and full of admiration for the work Ms Zafar does. Eloise explained:
‘Through the internship, I really began to see the true extent of how much needs to be done to ensure equal rights, and how truly important it is that we act now. It has been an incredibly motivating week.’
For Izzy, the internship had also been a huge learning experience.
‘The internship has given me a lot of knowledge and motivation that I hope to carry forward with me for the rest of my life. In particular, I loved being able to have open discussions with Samra about human rights and female empowerment, topics I am really interested in. This experience has enhanced my skills of compassion, collaboration, teamwork and resilience which will greatly benefit me through the rest of school and future life.’
Ms Zafar commented that the girls had been a delight to work with.
Izzy’s passion for human rights and social justice is what the world needs. I was touched by her curiosity to learn more, and ask thoughtful questions.
– Ms Zafar, Human Rights Advocate, Speaker and Writer
Congratulations to both our girls on approaching and completing the internship with maturity and professionalism.
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