Mercy Sondwapo


  • What made you decide to take up an internship at Macmillan?

    I got an internship with Macmillan through Change100 which is an organisation that aims to increase visibility and opportunities for people with disabilities or neurodiversity. I wanted to work in the charity sector with a focus on either health or social change. Thankfully, Macmillan encompasses most of the issues I am passionate about, so it was a good fit as I was able to support my passion for health and medicine, whilst also developing and applying the skills I have learned in my studies regarding social and political matters. Additionally, I was appreciative of the working culture as I learned through reading my contract that I wouldn’t have to work over 40 hours, and that I can have flexibility around how I work my contracted hours. I have never had this experience before, and as someone who experiences multiple health issues, it was such an amazing experience to know that I would have the opportunity to work to the best of my ability without having to sacrifice my wellbeing.

  • What advice would you give someone considering doing an internship?

    I would say try to explore as much as is possible. Know your capacity and try not to overwhelm yourself. It’s supposed to be a learning experience so its okay to not understand everything all the time. Importantly, keep an open mind so you can get involved in different projects, this will prove very useful when it comes to deciding whether you would like to stay with Macmillan, the directorate or not.

  • What have you loved most about doing the internship? Any key highlights?

    I have really enjoyed working across different directorates, gaining a general sense and feel for how big and varied the work is in the organisation. In my time as a Risk and Compliance intern, I was able to gain an organisation wide perspective as all major directorates have to share risks and opportunities with the Risk team, so we can identify and plan for anything that might cause issues within the organisation and the services we provide. It was such an insightful experience as I had to develop a new way of thinking, particularly around risks. Nowadays, I find myself assessing random things and their potential risks or opportunities if things go awry 😅. Importantly, I really appreciated the mentoring scheme we had throughout our internship. I got to learn about my mentor’s (Ade Bamigboye) role and responsibilities, while also receiving guidance and advice on how to work towards my professional goals. It was through my mentor that I started thinking about alternative career paths, particularly in technology. With Ade’s help, I was put into contact with Prathna Singh who introduced me to the world of analytics.

    A key highlight for me was when I proposed the use of Power BI to the interim Risk Lead (Kym Smith) after discussing with Prathna about the untapped potential of using this software to make risk reporting more engaging and adaptive. I proposed that the new risk register (JCAD) be connected to Power BI so that the risk team can create various analytics, including visualising data (i.e who has the most risks assigned to them? What department has the highest level of risks? etc…), creating an integrated platform to embed the entire risk management cycle so the team could have timely and relevant risk reporting, to attempt risk modelling to better prepare the organisation etc…I was fortunate that Kym found the ideas interesting and allowed for this to go through. Unfortunately, as I only had a limited time left with the team I couldn’t see this project to its fruition, but I am aware it is being considered as long-term strategy.

  • What are you doing now?

    After the internship, I realised I wanted to continue working at Macmillan as I had such a great experience and appreciate the work culture. I enjoyed the flexibility in working patterns and the people centred approach I experienced throughout my internship. So, I applied for another role in my directorate, but in the Income department to get more experience and see how well I would adjust to doing purely finance related work.