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Internship: my first month with MutualGain by Max Weightman

As with many students at the University of Bath, a large proportion of my time in second year was focussed on securing an internship position to gain valuable work experience and develop transferrable skills that could be used in my studies and beyond. Along with most other aspects of life in 2020, this was flipped upside down by the disruptive nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the UK entering lockdown, business confidence stalled and the appetite for hiring interns expectedly crumbled. As an organisation who pride themselves on their ability to interact with and develop communities to generate social capital, I was surprised to see MutualGain advertising positions considering contact with non-household members was strongly discouraged. Despite this, I applied for the internship and following some online away days with the team, secured a home-based position in the newly created research and development team.

Before long, my first day had arrived and was also heavily impacted by the virus. Following my initial Zoom call where I was introduced to the new team, I received a message from a friend explaining that they had tested positive. Despite only interacting with him when rugby training, I was advised to enter isolation and book a test when possible. This caused some disruption for my first few days when I was trying to settle into my new role, however it was definitely a memorable start to my work with MutualGain. After a negative test result and the instructed two weeks of isolation, I soon settled and began to make a proper start on the projects I had been given and learn more about my role in the MutualGain structure. Looking back, it is certainly a good thing the MutualGain team work from home, as otherwise I would have taken the whole office into isolation on my first morning on the job!

The main purpose of the newly constructed research and development team that I work within, is to find and implement a successful method for measuring the social impact that MutualGain has on its clients. At first glance, this seems a relatively simple task however, mainly caused by the variable definitions that people have for social capital, this is not as easy as it seems. In my first month, I have worked with my fellow Bath University students, Josh and Becky, to analyse previously collected data and we are now working on implementing a system that adapts to collect relevant impact data depending on the MutualGain service. Hopefully, this will highlight the importance of the work done by MutualGain. As well as this, I have undertaken individual research projects and have worked to improve MutualGain’s operations in the long run. For example, I produced a document outlining MutualGain’s national position compared to competitors and recently finished some work streamlining the PB voting process.

Overall therefore, my first month has brought many stimulating challenges and has opened my eyes to the world of deliberative democracy. Despite only having a short contract, I am excited by the opportunity to have a further impact on MutualGain whilst working with the other interns and extended team.

Max Weightman
Sept 2020