As an Oxford student – I just completed by MPhil in Social Anthropology – I was particularly thrilled to find out more about the work of the University’s Research Services. When you are a student you spend most of your time dealing with coursework and tutorials, sometimes forgetting that the University wouldn’t go forward without the work and support of those involved in administrational and organisational tasks, communication strategies, planning of all sorts, management of funding, etc. Our internship was based in 5 Worcester Street, where, among others, the Knowledge Exchange & Impact Team (KEIT) – that supports, promotes and coordinates knowledge exchange and impact services across the University – and Enterprising Oxford are based. It was a real pleasure to be supervised by Leah Thompson, Enterprising Oxford’s Manager, whose enthusiasm and guidance have accompanied us throughout the month of July. Working with Hasina has been very pleasant, formative and fun, and exchanging ideas and brainstorming together helped us considerably in realising a comprehensive and detailed platform for Social Entrepreneurship.

 

Enterprising Oxford is a great resource for students, researchers, university staff, as well as the Oxfordshire community. I am glad that through my internship I got the chance to learn more about Social Entrepreneurship in particular – a field in which I am very interested to work in the near future – interviewing very inspiring and hard-working people involved in this sector here in Oxford. If it wasn’t for their commitment to promote and support social entrepreneurs, Oxfordshire wouldn’t have been the first county named as a ‘Social Enterprise Place’ by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK). During our internship we went around the city to have incredibly interesting conversations with people working at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, OUI, OSEP, OxfordHub as well as with some social entrepreneurs themselves – such as Rich Young – and students who are starting to jump into this field – such as those involved in the launching of Changemakers (read more here). I personally didn’t know much about all the different organisations committed to promote Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, but talking with these people I got to understand that it’s increasingly possible to espouse the social cause you believe in – from gender equality to local community development – with the possibility of having financial profit. Social Entrepreneurship is growing incredibly, and those working in this sector seem to be well aware of the great potential of social enterprises to bring about social and environmental change at the local and national/international level, as well as to have a revenue thanks to the numerous funding opportunities and the expanding market for this kind of services. But I got to understand that social entrepreneurship is not only about having an idea or wanting to change the world; it is also about learning how the business world works in practice, about training your skills and making use of the amazing resources – from mentoring to legal advice to conferences and workshops – available for anyone interested in Social Entrepreneurship in Oxfordshire and in the UK. Because what may seem a small initiative with a limited potential of achieving change is only one element in the expanding ecosystem of social enterprises committed to achieving social justice and environmental sustainability.

Our daily ‘routine’ at Enterprising Oxford changed constantly: we would meet at the Oxford Foundry for a meeting, go to the Saïd Business School for another and go back to the office in 5 Worcester Street. Discovering the Oxford Foundry was great! I wish I knew about it before leaving Oxford, and I recommend that anyone who’s part of the University visits it often, as it is a comfortable co-working space that offers you the chance to meet very interesting people while sipping excellent coffee and tea. In general, I think Oxford is a place that provides several great opportunities for University students or alumni who are interested in Social Entrepreneurship, and I am certainly going to spread the word about them to my fellow coursemates and friends here and abroad. This was one of our aims while building this website! I only wish there was more sponsoring of these initiatives connected to social enterprise inside colleges in particular, as they have the suitable means to do that and attract a good number of students (particularly postgraduates, but also undergraduates). I hope that more will be done in the future with this aim in mind! Finally, I think that the main message to bring away from this internship experience and that I would like to share is that whatever discipline or background you come from, Social Entrepreneurship is worth exploring exactly because of its interdisciplinary, flexible, and changeable character that makes it a suitable pathway for everyone interested in making the world a better place.

Cristina Cusenza

MPhil Social Anthropology,

Green Templeton College


 

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning at 5 Worcester Street, home to the University’s Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team. As a Social Enterprise Content Intern at Enterprising Oxford, my role involved researching and creating a new set of online resources with the aim of promoting social entrepreneurship in Oxford. Together with Cristina, my fellow Intern, we started by setting out a plan for the 4-week project and coming up with a strategy to showcase the resources and events surrounding social entrepreneurship in Oxford.

We organised meetings and interviewed people from Enterprising Oxford’s partner organisations, including the Oxford Hub, OUI (Oxford University Innovation), the Skoll Centre, and OSEP to find out what they offer and discuss the future of social entrepreneurship. We also had the opportunity to talk to social entrepreneur Rich Young, and current student Ben Walker who is leading the “Changemakers” initiative for students. Speaking with a wide range of people was enlightening and gave us different perspectives and fascinating insights for our project.

What I hadn’t anticipated about the internship was the diverse range of work and variety involved. No 2 days at the office were the same. One day we would be at the Said Business School conducting an interview, and the next we would be brainstorming ideas at the Oxford Foundry. Even on our second day, we were invited to the Research Services’ annual summer party at Bothy Vineyard, which made for an interesting setting for a day at work.

We had the chance to experience what it was like to hold an event on a large scale with esteemed guests at the Vice Chancellor’s Innovation Awards on Thursday 12th July. The Awards exhibited a diverse range of innovative and pioneering projects, which was truly awe-inspiring. During the event, we had control of Enterprising Oxford’s Twitter account and updated followers with tweets and photos from the evening.

The people I worked with during the internship definitely contributed to making it a fantastic experience. Cristina and I made a great team, as we bounced ideas off each other and coordinated our work well. The team at KEIT were incredibly friendly, sustaining a welcoming atmosphere in the office, and it was evident that they were all passionate about what they do. Our manager Leah was constantly supportive and encouraging, and allowed us the independence to be creative and conduct research in our own way.

The internship has been an incredible learning journey, as I went from only knowing about social entrepreneurship as a term to writing my own content on the subject. I am grateful to have learned about what is available in Oxford surrounding social entrepreneurship, and I look forward to getting more involved over the next few years of my degree. Overall, my experience at Enterprising Oxford has been invaluable and has given me the opportunity to develop so many skills and gain knowledge that will undoubtedly be useful during my degree and beyond.

Hasina Manzoor

German, Worcester College

 

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