Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has praised the hard work and enthusiasm of eleven summer interns, as they talked about the “amazing, eye-opening experience” of their five-week placement at the Combined Authority.
To help the region’s young people, one of the groups hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Houchen offered those completing A-levels or equivalent, or students who are currently studying at university, the chance to join the organisation for five weeks in roles that pay the real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour.
The interns, aged between 17 and 23, have taken up roles in everything from culture, education and transport to finance and legal, helping to drive forward economic growth in the area and transform the Tees Valley.
The students praised the programme, which is drawing to a close on Friday (27 August) for giving them valuable insight into their career options, as well as real-life workplace experience in a friendly environment.
Michael Widdowson, 22, gained “invaluable experience” during his internship. He said: “My legal and procurement internship at Tees Valley Combined Authority was an amazing, eye opening experience. Everyone was extremely welcoming and I gained invaluable legal experience. I learned how the law I studied at university applies to TVCA’s projects in practice.
“My main highlight was working on the Teesworks site twice a week and being taken on a site tour. This showed how the procurement law I was working on applied to TVCA’s currently projects. It was truly awe-inspiring to see the massive scale of the site and was far better than working in a London office!”
Aneliese Hodgson, also 22, worked with the Transport team on a number of schemes. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at TVCA, it’s a shame the internship is coming to an end! Everyone here has been eager to help – I’ve even had meetings with staff in other departments who have given me advice on my future career in chemistry or renewables.
“I’ve worked on a variety of projects, from active transport initiatives and decarbonisation approaches to electric charge points. Working in partnership with Northern Rail on hydrogen trains has been the highlight of my time here. I’ve learnt more about hydrogen trains and decarbonisation techniques in the past few weeks than I have in 22 years!”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s been fantastic to see first-hand the hard work and enthusiasm that our interns have brought to the job each and every day, and they’ve undoubtedly added real value to all we’ve been doing, thanks to their fresh perspectives.
“In this difficult time, as we recover our economy following the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more essential than ever to help our young people, inspire them, and give them good quality, well-paid internships like this, to put some money in their pockets and give them a taste of the world of work.
“Not only did they get the benefit of experience working with us but, thanks to all of the projects we’re funding or have a hand in across the region, the interns also learned of the great opportunities that lie ahead of them, with all of the jobs we’re helping to create across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“I’m grateful for everything they’ve done while working with us and I wish them all the best for their future, whether that’s going on to study further, or starting out in their careers.”