On June 21st I visited the Frontier offices in London with the objective of getting a better understanding of how it is an NGO with a large reach across the world is organised. I myself have been planning to take a gap year for a very long time, so a part of me also wanted to find out what was special about Frontier and what might set it apart from the plethora of other gap year agencies out there. By the end of the day I could easily say these aims had been met, as well as some I did not know I had.
The day began with a friendly tour of the offices and I was at once surprised by finding out how many staff were on an internship placement. If I had not known I would have thought they were established permanent members of staff. This was explained to me later in the day when a staff member said that at Frontier an intern’s job is not to run around getting coffee, they are given real responsibility and are invaluable members of the team. He also explained that many of the permanent staff actually began as interns. This established, for me, the sense of community at Frontier, which I really admired.
This trust and responsibility was then put on me as my next task was to sort through the CVs of applicants to the Frontier team. The first couple of applications were difficult to assess, but I soon got into a rhythm. I learned exactly what to do and not to do in a CV, which is invaluable as I will soon be writing my own.
After a relaxed lunch where I was able to talk to many of the staff, myself and another work shadowing student began on a small investigation project. We were tasked with researching a route for a new travelling trail in Southern Africa which Frontier could provide. This was a fascinating task as we discovered some incredible places to visit in the region and discussed practicalities and logistics of how the trail would work. We were both very pleased when the member of staff overseeing us was appreciative of our work and said it would have great value.
As we packed up at the end of the day I was able to ask the staff members some particularly tricky questions. I asked about their thoughts on the role of NGO’s in international development and how they had made sure that their work could be sustainable and positive, rather than detrimental to the communities in which they worked in the long run. They were very thoughtful and I really appreciated how seriously they considered my thoughts. Their responses to these important questions were very meaningful and developed my understanding of international development and its duties.
Overall, the day was a great success. I was able to experience a unique office environment which although based in central London, was able to communicate and coordinate on an international scale. I learned a great deal not only about the organisation but also about the general world of work. Finally, I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity this gave me. An internship with Frontier is definitely now being considered in my future plans.
Find out more about our Work Shadowing Days in the London HQ.