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Gary Allen, BA (Hons) Housing Studies

How a successful internship has given a mature student the confidence and experience to pursue his dream

As part of his BA (Hons) Housing Studies course, Gary Allen secured an internship with the National Housing Federation. Keen on a career in the housing services sector, he was absolutely delighted with an experience that he describes as "wholly positive".

Fully trained

"I was made to feel very welcome in the team, and was treated the same as any employee in the Federation," says Gary. "I was fully trained on their computer and telephone systems, and attended the same induction day as permanent staff did. I had the opportunity to speak to the directors and even David Orr, the managing director."

Important projects

Having been able to settle in quickly, Gary soon found himself working on important projects at the very heart of the organisation. "I was given the chance to write the Federation's response to local Housing Benefit changes," he says. ""It involved a lot of computer-based investigation, analyzing council responses and talking to Federation members and staff."

Central role

Taking such a central role was not something Gary had expected, but the experiences and learning he had already enjoyed as part of his course meant that he was well-placed to take on the challenge, and was quick to impress his employers with his insight. 

"It was very satisfying to find that in any meeting I attended, my opinion was valued and considered. It didn't matter whether the meetings were one-to-one or with 20 housing professionals, I was listened to and trusted," says Gary. "It has given me great confidence and has helped me in my studies since I returned to my course."

Vital experience

Having seen the benefit that a good internship can bring to a student, Gary recommends all students try to get that vital extra experience under their belts. "Like all things though, you only get out what you put in, he says. "Everyone I encountered at the Federation would provide help and advice, but I still had to be proactive to make the most of the opportunity," he says.

Right decision

As a mature student, Gary is delighted that he chose to study at LSBU and feels that he has made the right decision. "After working in food retail management for many years, I really wanted a career that would enable me to help people," he says. I considered becoming a social worker but deciding that housing management was better suited to my skills."

The course at LSBU was the right one for me, and it has been really easy to fit my study around my existing family commitments. I also really like the fact that I feel like I belong, as I had been away from an academic environment for 20 years, but any concerns I had about 'fitting in' quickly disappeared.

Optimistic about the future

As he enters his final year of study, Gary is optimistic about his future and hopes to find a position in a housing organisation where he can help people with their housing needs. "Eventually, I would like to be involved in the policy decision making department of whatever company I work for," he says, " and the confidence I gained during my internship has definitely been a big factor in helping me realise that I can go out and do it!" 
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