A day in the life of a STEM intern

By Sophie Mason

“I’m Sophie and am now on day 6 of my placement. With every day being different, here’s an insight into the activities I’ve been doing.
Like all important roles the day started immediately with the finalisation of plans for the day. I’m now well versed in the art of photocopying thanks to printing off resources needed for a lesson that I was going to be team teaching later in the day.
After the initial rush we joined the teachers in the daily staff briefing lead by the Head Teacher. Celebratory thank you’s over the previous days achievements and jokes sprinkled over the important messages for the day — feeding the schools positive atmosphere.
Then it was time for me to actually teach a lesson for the first time! My partner intern, Oliver, and I had free reign on the content to deliver and after spending the previous week planning this lesson and getting the go-ahead from our mentor, all that was left was to deliver it to the students. After being eased in with delivering a ready-made starter to the same class I actually wasn’t nervous — at least until Oliver delivered the starter with such ease and confidence!
Our algebraic spin on the compound shapes they’d previously learnt went down really well and satisfied even the hardest to please students. The sense of achievement afterwards was amazing! To plan, create and deliver a lesson, and bring together everything I’d picked up from training and observing in other lessons in just 6 days, was so much more than I’d ever thought I could achieve, by this point, before starting the internship. While the internship may only be 4 weeks my mentor has definitely made sure that every moment counts.
After a very involved period one, the next lesson was a typical example of how the first few days of the internship went: delivering a pre-made starter, observing different teaching styles and then helping students during the main activity. Really focusing on the teacher’s delivery style rather than the content and constantly thinking about what engaged students has certainly made me reassess my opinions about who were the best teachers at my school — apparently giving out lots of chocolate as prizes doesn’t automatically equate to great teaching standards!
After most lessons, especially during the first week, I stopped to have a quick chat with the teacher about the class or to ask them how they came into teaching and today I had the chance to interview the Head of Maths. Like all people who did a gap year, he couldn’t refrain from enthusiastically mentioning his travels before moving on to the path that led him to becoming the Head of Department. His route from Fast Track to teaching and then pastoral roles before focusing on the department highlighted, for me, the importance of needing to think about your career past the initial step.
Then, in the closest I’ve ever come to a work power lunch, Oliver and I had a discussion with the teacher who supervised our first attempt at teaching. He’d kindly made sure to watch the lesson while appearing to be busy with other tasks, reducing our nerves and yet still allowing him to provide some constructive and very positive feedback.
Ever trying to reflect the work life of teachers, we were then given a free period for planning. We used this time to plan an activity for an after school Gifted and Talented club dedicated to maths, happening later that day. Focusing on the UK Maths Challenge style questions that we loved so much as pupils ourselves, we sourced a CrossNumber and the all-important prize of Freddos to keep them motivated. Helping bright, motivated students who are volunteering their time for the fun of maths was heavily reminiscent of my own school life, and made me think about the journey I’ve taken from behind the desk, to university and now to the front of the classroom — all because of my love of maths.
This is just one day of my internship and I’ve had many other opportunities, from helping to run a conference for primary school teachers at Birmingham City University, delivering a transition evening event, completing a pupil trail for a day and, most importantly, getting involved in the best day of the year — sports day!
All this, as well as the great members of staff I’ve been working with, has made this internship an amazing experience I would highly recommend to anyone; whether you’ve decided to go into teaching or just want to get involved in something new.”

If you’re in the penultimate year of a STEM related degree and are interested in teaching secondary maths or physics, then the paid internship programme could be for you. Internships take place during June and July and last four weeks. You’ll be paid £300 per week.

Applications have now closed for this summer. For further information relating to possible future cohorts of this programme, please continue to check this page.