Top 5 Things We Learned as Oxford Hub Interns

By Amira Izhar

This year, Oxford Hub introduced an internship, a remote opportunity that had Oxford University students from all around the world taking part. From May through to June, interns from London to Glasgow to Vancouver, completed two week internships at the Oxford Hub. Our experiences varied, but here’s a summary of the top things we all learned…

8 out of 10 of our Oxford Hub Interns Summer 2020.
  1. How Important Oxford Hub is

The pandemic exacerbated the existing social issues in Oxford, and the interns all learned just how many people were in need of help, and how Oxford Hub was spearheading amazing work. Interns supported Oxford Together, a volunteer programme to help people in need during Covid-19. Tasks included the admin behind getting food to people in our community that need it; and those who need help with practical tasks like shopping or dog walking; calculating how many prescriptions were delivered by volunteers and even helping to aggregate data for Oxford City Council.

Other interns were involved in projects such as the ‘Ready, Set, Go,’ campaign, aiming to get every child in the community swimming and cycling. The interns soon learned they were a small part of wonderful, larger initiatives, all coordinated by Oxford Hub.

“The effects of Covid-19 will be felt long after the virus is deemed no longer a threat; the economic and social impact demands further action like that of Oxford Together” — Florrie Burke

2. Feeling Connected to the Wider Oxford Community

Despite being away from Oxford during the remote Trinity term, the interns ended up feeling more connected to the Oxford community. It became clear that many students are trapped in a ‘university bubble’ of stress and assignments, making them lose sight of the wider community outside the city centre. Viewing the Oxford Hub’s extensive Volunteer Map, which demonstrates how people are mobilised as volunteers all over Oxford helped the interns view the city very positively. There are so many people around who want to help, and Oxford Hub is matching nearby volunteers to people in need. Moreover, the internship introduced these students to Oxford Hub programmes they weren’t aware of, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, matching youths for mentor relationships, or FELLOW, giving free English language lessons to recent migrants or refugees. This internship exposed how many great things Oxford Hub does all over Oxford City, making the interns feel truly connected to the wider community.

“I think when I return to University in autumn this awareness will allow me to observe Oxford with the perspective of a community member, rather than as an outsider.” — Catherine Zhang

3. New Ways of Working

Furthermore, the interns were introduced to a whole plethora of online resources that made working life easier. Tasks were assigned on a platform called Asana, Slack was used to communicate between interns and staff, Mailchimp was helpful for creating newsletters or drafting emails, and some interns even used Canva for creating graphics! The exposure to new ways of working allowed for better communication since we couldn’t be in-person, and was an exciting opportunity to use new platforms. A typical work day could be video calls on Zoom, to make sure everybody felt part of the team and that tasks were explained clearly, then working on a newsletter or spreadsheet and chatting about it on Slack. This created a friendly, open environment that built skills, and relationships.

“I gained new skills, greater knowledge of social problems in Oxford and met some brilliant people!” — Zaynab Sarguroh

4. New Skills, New Experiences

From using spreadsheets to Slack, the interns all gained transferable skills they will be able to bring to any job in the future. For example, some interns called up Oxford Together volunteers to ask questions about their experiences, turning some shy interns into confident callers! The most exciting experience for some of the interns was meeting new people (albeit from a distance). Interns were involved in ‘Tea and Chats’ over a Zoom call, a fun way to drink tea, have an informal chat with staff from the Oxford Hub office, and to meet new people! The community atmosphere that Oxford Hub managed to foster during the internship, despite being far away, was friendly and conducive to the amazing social action we were helping with!

“I have learned a lot about the inequalities in Oxford, but also more positively how effective social action, and community cooperation can help”. — Alexandra McLanaghan

5. Eager to Continue Engaging With Their Community!

All of the interns expressed how they would love to continue volunteering and engaging with their community in the future. Some interns managed to raise £1,500 for Oxford Together during Trinity Term, and are motivated to continue this success. From some interns being eager to get involved as Schools Plus tutors for Oxford Hub, to others keen on devising their own methods of remote volunteering, the interns will continue to support others in need. This is a testament to how this internship solidified our awareness of social action issues.

“This experience has not only taught me new skills that I can use in future volunteering, but has also given me a much deeper understanding of the inequalities that exist in our society. I now feel very motivated to enact change.” — Anna Townsend

Overall, it is clear what a positive experience the Oxford Hub Internship was for students, highlighting issues in their university city, and turning them into social activists, eager for change!

To find out more about all things Oxford Hub, make sure to check out our website, www.oxfordhub.org.