GoAbroad Interview

Hamza Sheikh - Internships Co-ordinator

Hamza Sheikh - Internships Co-ordinator, BUNAC

Through excellent program support, cultural immersion and orientation, and perfect organization, BUNAC has been able to establish well-rounded internship programs in the UK that allow individuals to gain valuable work experience abroad.

After graduation Hamza joined BUNAC as a Sports Coaching volunteer in South Africa. He was so inspired by the mission of BUNAC that he actively sought a job in the organization. Hamza currently acts as Internships Co-ordinator for BUNAC’s Intern in Britain Programme. He uses his international experiences and his passion for the organization’s mission to coordinate effective internships for interns in the UK.

What does your role as Internships Co-ordinator at BUNAC entail?

I coordinate the BUNAC Intern in Britain Programme, in which we act as the visa sponsor for international students/graduates who wish to do an internship in the UK. I also coordinate the Internship USA programme, in which we assist people from the UK in gaining work experience in the U.S.

What led you to begin working for BUNAC?

I first learned about BUNAC when I had graduated from university and was looking to do some volunteering work abroad. I read about the BUNAC Sports Coaching South Africa programme and chose to do it straight away! After returning from South Africa I wanted to work for BUNAC in the hope of inspiring others to go and work/volunteer abroad for a change! 

What makes BUNAC Internships in the UK attractive to international participants?

The Intern in Britain programme appeals to people from around the whole world, which therefore means working with many different nationalities which I love and enjoy. It’s always great meeting them when they arrive in the UK as they are really appreciative. London as a destination is also one that attracts everyone onto the programme!

How do you prepare participants before they arrive?

We like to give our participants all the support they need in getting ready to come to the UK. This includes support with the whole visa process in the form of helpful guidelines and step by step instructions. We also give them plenty of advice regarding travel, in terms of insurance, flights, booking accommodation, and getting familiar with UK customs!

What does the BUNAC orientation include?

Our orientation sessions are a great chance for our participants to meet us and ask any questions they may have regarding living in the UK. The sessions include giving support in: opening a bank account, applying for national insurance, travelling within the UK, health and safety, useful tips on saving money, finding accommodation, and registering with the police and giving discount offers on attractive tours and trips in the UK!

What type of support does BUNAC provide to interns?

We offer support throughout anyone’s trip from initially applying onto the programme, throughout their whole time in the UK, and even when returning back home. We never want anyone feeling alone as we understand how difficult it is for anyone to be in a completely different country and away from friends and family. We are always a phone call away and with our 24/7 hour emergency number we always ensure we respond to everyone, no matter what time it is!

How do you help participants immerse in British culture?

We understand how important it is for all our participants to integrate with the UK culture. As a result, we have a social diary that involves pub meets, social trips, and other events that aim to help our participants learn more about the UK culture.

What is the highlight of internships in the UK?

The highlight of the Intern in Britain programme is the opportunity to gain international work experience on your CV as well as make new friends through our social events, not to mention the on-going support you get from all our friendly BUNAC staff.

How do you address the non-academic needs of interns?

Whatever needs our participants may have we always make ourselves seem easily approachable. Whether someone is having issues at work or feeling home sick, we always do our best to give as much support as possible.

How do you hope to enhance BUNAC’s UK internships in the future?

We have recently seen a huge interest from international students already in the UK on a Tier 4 Student visa who want to stay in the UK longer to gain some work experience. As we know how difficult it is for them to arrange their visas themselves we are now allocating a lot more support and time to them so that they can also benefit from our sponsorship and be accepted for a new visa that allows them to intern in the UK.