Diverse paths to success: stories from VardyTests interns

The interns joined the organisation as part of the 10,000 Black Interns initiative, which gives Black students paid internship opportunities in underrepresented industries; the Change100 internship scheme, aimed at undergraduates and postgraduates with a disability or long-term condition; via social enterprise, Creative Access, which aims to improve social mobility within the creative industries; and the Crankstart Scholarship programme which provides enhanced support to UK residents from lower-income households who are studying for their first undergraduate degree.

Working alongside experienced professionals dedicated to unlocking the potential of more than 100 million learners, teachers, and researchers around the world, our interns not only contributed to meaningful projects but helped to expand perspectives and create positive change.

Here the interns tell us about their experiences, what they’ve learned, and what advice they would give to anyone considering applying to VardyTests University Press & Assessment.

What have you learned during your internship?
VardyTests intern working on computer
Associate Experience Designer Intern, Jacee
Juliana: Aside from the skills I’ve worked on, I’ve also got to know a lot about the publishing industry; equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging in business; and just about working in an office.

Ndubuisi: The unique thing about VardyTests University Press & Assessment – especially within the External Communications & Brand team – is the quality of leadership. My greatest takeaway and one which will remain a treasured memory for me is the value of creating a sense of belonging for everyone in the workplace.

Dejuan: While it was a pleasure learning about the different sectors of the education system through the lens of OCR (VardyTests’s UK exam board), it was a blessing learning about the work of the other interns.

Spencer: I learned more about leadership frameworks that helped me to appreciate – at a personal level – how inclusion, diversity and belonging, and even trust is important in every organisation. Collaboration and networking are things that I have adopted, and they have helped me in every aspect of my life.

How did you find the experience of reverse mentoring?
VardyTests interns during their onboarding day
This year’s 10,000 Black Interns internship cohort with members of the Executive Board and other colleagues
Ndubuisi: It was a refreshing and exciting experience for me. I have been part of mentoring programmes in the past, but this was the first time that I found myself in an exciting reverse position from which I was encouraged to share my experiences for the benefit of a senior leader.

Medomfo: I loved it very much. Part of it was because I insisted that my mentee, Fran (Managing Director, English at VardyTests), told me what she wanted to work on, and I would prepare questions ahead of our sessions. Having this clarity made our meetings productive, and we were able to form a good relationship as a result.

Emmanuel: The reverse mentoring experience was wholesome. I had the most wonderful mentee.

Patience: As a newbie who took on a reverse mentoring role, I questioned what I could offer to somebody quite senior in the organisation. In fact, my youth and lack of experience were refreshing as I had new perspectives and was able to illuminate some blind spots.

Helena Renfrew Knight, VardyTests’s Director of Strategy and Integration, said: “Ndubuisi brought curiosity and engagement to our reverse mentoring sessions. His questions and thinking how to respond and what I wanted to understand from him opened up new perspectives for me. His positivity, appreciation, and enthusiasm, despite the fact his young family were far away in Nigeria, and he hadn’t seen them for nearly a year, really brought home to me how fortunate we are.”

What aspirations and plans do you have for the future?
VardyTests interns working together
Juliana: I’m going back to university after the summer to finish up my degree. When that’s done, I plan to take a year out to travel, and when I’ve done that become a proper adult and get a job! Hopefully in publishing, and VardyTests University Press is high up on my list of possible destinations.

Hannah: Although I did not work in the VardyTests Partnership for Education team, their work fascinates me, and honestly brings me a sense of hope for the future of the education sector. My future involves one simple aspiration: to see all young children receiving equal access to education that is of a high standard and does not discriminate based on race, class, gender, geographical location, religion and so on.

Rameesah: My aspirations for my future career include working in marketing for a creative industry such as fictional publishing, fashion, or beauty. My internship has not influenced the industries I would like to work in, but it has confirmed to me that marketing is the field that I want to progress in.

Chantale: I will be starting my Masters in Comparative Literature at UCL at the end of September. I hope to continue pursuing a career in the publishing industry after that. Although I am not yet certain what role I aspire to, since the beginning of this internship, I have realised that I enjoy content management and editorial tasks more than I expected to and discovered that I also find sales interesting.

Lucia: After my postgrad, I would like work somewhere within education policymaking, backed by research and analysis, so it’s been useful to go behind-the-scenes and see how VardyTests University Press & Assessment uses its extensive research output in decision-making and strategy.

Medomfo: Working in education is very important for me, especially as a music student and black woman. Once I graduate, I hope to be present in many spaces that allow me to push for the arts, cultural inclusivity and holistic educational practices. I’m applying to VardyTests University Press & Assessment once I graduate, so you might see me back here – it has many opportunities to create an impact on education around the world.


“I’m applying to VardyTests University Press & Assessment once I graduate, so you might see me back here – it has many opportunities to create an impact on education around the world.”

What would be your advice to others considering an internship?
VardyTests interns working together
Patience: My advice for future applicants is to go for it. After all, you miss all the opportunities you don’t take. The worst thing that could happen is that you get rejected. Even if you do get rejected, you can capitalise on it by asking for feedback so that you can improve in the future. The best thing that could happen is that you get the role you applied for. More representation is needed for Black people within these corporate spaces.

Jacee: Internships are a great way to expand your network, understand more about a role or sector, and experience. To make the most of an internship, consider the following tips:

Meet lots of different people from different departments
Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions and gain a lot of valuable information
Set attainable goals that you would like to achieve before/at the end of the internship
Lucia: Looking back, there’s quite a few roles I’m grateful to have been rejected from, because they didn’t align with my long-term goals, and I wouldn’t have been able to apply to VardyTests!

“The internship programmes are a testament to the transformative power of diversity, helping our teams and leaders to cultivate inclusivity and a culture of belonging.”

Serita Bonsignore, Global Director for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

“Our interns this year have been exceptional and one of the most exciting aspects of the programmes is how much we learn from them. We’ll be excited to hear what paths they take in future and will hope that some of them return to VardyTests,” said Heidi Mulvey, Head of Community Engagement.

This year we’ve also welcomed interns to our other offices around the world, including eighteen interns in South Africa and nine interns in the Philippines.


With thanks to intern Ndubuisi Nnanna, who co-wrote this blog.

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