Chris Anderson is a university student who is coming to the end of a three-month summer internship in the Public Affairs team of BECG’s Winchester office.
What are you doing away from BECG?
I’ve just finished my first year at the University of St Andrews, where I study English, History, and International Relations. Outside of my studies, I enjoy distance running and playing piano.
What brought you to BECG for your internship?
I was searching for a way to usefully occupy my summer, and wrote to a number of companies in the Winchester area. Since I’m aiming for a professional career, potentially in the built environment sector, I was delighted when BECG decided to take a chance on me and offer me a placement.
What sort of work have you been doing while here?
I’ve mostly worked within the Public Affairs team at BECG, which facilitates stakeholder engagement and community consultation to support planning and development proposals. My work has involved a lot of research and writing: identifying relevant community groups, contributing to the Political and Community Audits which we produce for clients, and engaging with local residents and stakeholders. I’ve also been lucky enough to attend a number of public exhibitions.
As well as my work in the Public Affairs team, I’ve done some work supporting the Public Relations team, doing general tasks when they need an extra pair of hands. This has included some general administration tasks, but I was also given the opportunity to help with the marketing for a housing development, which gave me a fascinating insight into how BECG helps developers to respond to different challenges presented by varying local environments.
As well as the interesting stuff, I’ve also been doing more typical “intern jobs”, such as data entry and envelope stuffing – but those jobs are oddly therapeutic, so I don’t really mind!
Has there been any side of the work that you’ve found particularly interesting or enjoyable?
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy the public exhibitions. Spending time interacting with the public and advocating for the proposals we work on can be quite challenging, but it’s also rewarding as you can see the immediate impact when people warm to a proposal which they’d previously opposed. The exhibitions have also taken me to some delightful places, such as Bridport in Dorset and Midhurst in West Sussex – it’s been a great opportunity to see the South a bit more, as I only recently moved to Winchester from Nottingham. The range of different clients and projects mean that even as an intern I’ve been able to work on all sorts of schemes, from housing developments to mixed-use commercial schemes and stunning designs of architectural importance.
As well as that, it’s been rewarding to work in the built environment sector. Even in my relatively short time at BECG, I’ve seen first-hand the impact we have on a sector that’s so important for the UK economy and has tangible effects on individuals. The work feels genuinely meaningful and has a visible real-world impact, which is incredibly motivating.
I also once got to spend a morning delivering a large model for a meeting with a local authority – which was effectively a road-trip through the beautiful Hampshire and Sussex countryside. When we reached our destination, we spotted a ruined country house and went on a brief detour to investigate further. Not an altogether conventional intern experience, and a really memorable moment.
What’s been the most challenging part of your role?
The research tasks can be fairly tricky sometimes. The nature of local government means that finding relevant information can be quite difficult, as a lot of things which go on in parish councils and other organisations aren’t recorded online. However, the rest of the team have always been willing to help out and offer their expertise so that I can produce the high-quality work that our clients expect. They’ve also been very patient when I make mistakes – which, as an intern, is more frequent than I’d like to admit, but it’s all part of the learning curve. With their help, I’ve been able to develop much deeper understandings of local government and of the work done by BECG – it’s been interesting learning how everything works, and seeing the process from concept to development.
How have you found your time with BECG overall?
I’ve enjoyed getting an insight into what it’s like to work full-time, and I’ve learned a huge amount about presentation, research, and local government. Despite being an intern, and the youngest person in the office, I’ve been treated like one of the team, which has made a big difference. Though I’m only here for a relatively short period, everyone’s made an effort to get to know me, and I’ve loved working with the people at BECG. At the risk of sounding sycophantic, they’ve made it a great experience, and I’m so grateful.
What have you enjoyed most about your time with BECG?
Being presented with challenging tasks, working on a wide range of projects, and gaining a fascinating insight into a professional environment and the built environment sector more broadly. It’s been a valuable experience in a sector about which I previously knew very little, and I’ve developed my own abilities in terms of research, communication, and data analysis. Being in such a dynamic office has given me opportunities to learn new skills and apply them from day one. Regardless of the path my career takes, I’m sure I’ll always be thankful for what I’ve learned during my time at BECG.