U21 Sustainable Micro Internship Spotlight: The Student Perspective


Photo of student Sreelakshmi Sreejith smiling to the camera
Sreelakshmi (Sree) Sreejith, BSc Economics at University of Birmingham (Dubai)

Sreelakshmi (Sree) Sreejith, a BSc Economics student at the University of Birmingham (Dubai) writes about her experiences on the U21 Sustainable Micro-Internship programme, highlighting how the programme has afforded her a global perspective alongside developing skills for the modern workplace.

Prior to taking part in U21s Sustainable Micro Internship programme Sree was very interested in building international partnerships. However, she had not previously undertaken any international travel.  Sree says, “What particularly drew me to this internship was the fact, that I, as an Economics student, could use the studies and skills obtained during my university studies and apply them to the real world.”


What is the U21 Sustainable Micro Internship programme?

The U21 Sustainable Micro-internships programme allows students to work with their fellow students from across the globe, sharing knowledge and expertise whilst immersing themselves in a commercial organisation. Students are tasked in groups with providing a solution to a real-life SDG related challenge. At the end of the programme, they pitch their innovative solution to senior stakeholders within the organisation.


Building online global partnerships

Reflecting on the experiences gained within the programme, Sree notes that a key aspect was “gaining the experience of working in a remote setting and having to coordinate with other students around the world (and their time zones), given the post-Covid era of remote work all around the world. Most importantly, the opportunity to work with like-minded yet very unique individuals further drew me to this internship.”

When considering the global perspective gained through the Sustainable Micro Internship programme, Sree comments that “This internship made me realise that there are so many people around the world who truly want to make a change. While I always believed in the existence of good-hearted people globally, this experience has provided me with tangible evidence of their sheer numbers and unwavering commitment.”

As for collaborating with students in other countries online, Sree reflects that creating online connections comes with some challenges. However, this can be largely overcome through a combination of teamwork and building positive connections with others.  To help build meaningful relationships, groups held regular online meetings, Sree states “in these meetings, we ensured that our videos were switched on (as far as the internet permitted). This made it more personal as we came to know the faces of the people we were working with.”

A key takeaway for Sree was the importance of getting to know people from different cultures around the world and finding common ground. “During our meetings, we concentrated on the tasks at hand. However, we did so much more than just that. We spoke about our studies, our universities, the countries we lived in, the food in our places, etc… [This] without a doubt made the online experience smooth and fun.”


The benefits of online working in an increasingly digital world

Sree identifies a major benefit of undertaking an online internship is its efficiency. “As an Economics student, I learn all about the importance of efficiency. An online internship, along with the time constraint, enables one to concentrate and prioritize tasks in order of importance. It teaches one how to get work done as quickly as possible while maintaining quality. In other words, it improves one’s time management skills.”

Another key benefit of online collaboration which Sree highlights is improving flexibility and adaptability. “Pre–COVID, everyone would meet in person and travel to their workplace. However, Covid-19 has proved that this is not always feasible. There can occur many situations where meeting in person simply can’t happen.” Furthering this line of thought, Sree says, “Working online helps us overcome such difficulties, it enables us to work beyond innumerable constraints. An online internship equips you with such skills, which is an absolute necessity when an internship becomes a full-time job.”


Additional transferrable skills

Additional transferable skills that Sree gained during this experience include presentation and collaboration capabilities. Through pitching ideas to colleagues and senior stakeholders, Sree was able to develop personal confidence.

Sree reflects, “My future career in Economics will involve situations, (presentations, speeches, debates) where public speaking is needed. Additionally, the ability to collaborate with a diverse group of people across international borders is an invaluable skill, regardless of one’s profession.”


Think you might be interested in taking part in a Sustainable Micro Internship in the future?

To find out more information about the U21 Sustainable Micro Internship programme please click here.

To express an interest in future please complete this form here.

Tara Sutton