Thought Leadership Sep 14, 2022

Mixing Engineering with Psychology: Five Lessons from a #FutureofJacobs Intern

From CSI and forensics to product marketing and consumer psychology: The story and career lessons of a psychology intern at a global professional services company

Niamh Dean sitting in office reception

Let’s start with the question you want to ask: how did a Psychology student like me end up with an internship in marketing & communications at Jacobs?

Well, it all started with CSI. The hit Crime Scene Investigation television series, along with its famous opening song by The Who, was a seminal part of my childhood. I loved those kinds of shows and crime documentaries. I was fascinated by criminals and what made them tick.

This fascination led me to a beautiful part of Scotland. I spent four years discovering Applied Psychology in the halls and classrooms of Glasgow Caledonian University. The goal: to become a forensic psychologist, a modern version of Sherlock Holmes. Or, in this case, a real-life Horatio Crane or Gil Grissom from CSI!

However, as much as I loved the forensic side of psychology, I was privileged to learn about the other aspects of psychology during my studies. My biggest surprise was discovering just how much influence psychology has on our everyday lives. It widened my horizons, and suddenly it wasn’t about post-mortems and crime scenes. I wanted to see how psychology influences all our day-to-day decisions — not just those of criminals.

How to graduate like a rockstar

After four long years of sweat and tears (thankfully, no blood!), I finally graduated on July 7 with a first-class Honors degree. My biggest graduation highlight was sharing the platform with Biffy Clyro front man Simon Neil — the talented musician received an honorary degree for inspiring creatives worldwide.

As part of my studies, I acquired several transferable skills, such as researching and analyzing information and improving my verbal and written communication skills. However, as an intern with the product marketing team, I quickly realized that my psychology skills offered a different kind of benefit.

Lesson 1: Psychology helps you understand your customers better

Understanding human behaviors is a critical part of marketing, as it helps us understand why people behave in specific ways. I realized these skills could be applied to support a role in marketing and communications, especially in branding and reaching target audiences.

I’ve discovered that marketing at Jacobs is part of a fast-growing, progressive industry comprising many exciting, versatile career paths. It also gives me a brilliant opportunity to put my behavioral understanding into practice. But rest assured, I’m not going to psycho-analyze everyone I meet!

Lesson 2: Working with good people helps teams achieve good things

I was drawn to Jacobs as I’m passionate about climate change. Jacobs was the first consultancy to produce net-zero targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, and it’s constantly striving to make positive, practical global impacts across the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. My first impression of working for Jacobs is of a company that authentically lives up to the hype. They’re all about actions, not just words.

But it’s not just about the environment; I was also drawn to Jacobs’ dedication to its people and communities. Being dyslexic, Jacobs appealed to me as a champion for equality through its commitment to inclusion and diversity. On a personal front, I couldn’t feel more supported and included as part of the product marketing team.

Three interns walking

Lesson 3: Walking in other people’s shoes is the best kind of education

In my role as an intern, I’m lucky to work on various unique projects with brilliant people in different areas, including my favorite: sustainability. This versatility involves a deep dive into multiple products. I’m learning about the marketing funnel, the various touchpoints, and how to successfully promote products through competitor and market research.

I’m also exploring the exciting world of marketing communications. I’m networking with talented experts in their specific fields, and it’s helping to shape my career development. I’m unearthing where my passions lie and how I can start defining my future career path. Watch this space!

Lesson 4: Learning to separate fact from fiction

I was wrong. My expectations have been totally exceeded. Contrary to common myths, being an intern doesn’t mean being relegated to less important tasks or making coffee for the boss. The intern’s role has evolved, bringing with it many responsibilities such as the opportunity to work hands-on on projects and collaborate with colleagues at all levels (even the boss!). The reality is much more rewarding than the stereotype. I’ve actively participated in several work streams and have been offered excellent opportunities to learn and grow. I can now enhance my existing skills and develop new ones.

It’s essential to separate facts from fiction so you don’t miss the opportunity to take part in a valuable internship that helps you acquire essential skill sets to help you shine in all your future roles.

Lesson 5 – Take a leap of faith

My application for this internship was based on pure belief. I didn’t expect to be leading major projects from the onset, but after a period of shadowing colleagues at meetings, I gradually began to assist with and contribute to the work of the team. Along the way, I’ve learned the value of critical skills such as time management, effective communication, patience, understanding, social media strategizing and more.

I know these skills will help me perform well in future roles, shape my future career and encourage someone to take a leap of faith in me!

Just like The Who song, I’m finding out who I am

Like any good forensic psychologist, I need to do a post-mortem — but in this case, it’s not a crime scene; it’s my Jacobs internship. There has been no criminal activity — just positive learning! I’ve already discovered so much in my time as an intern, both about myself and marketing and communications. These experiences will influence and inspire me to continue to grow professionally and personally and give me the confidence to achieve future goals.

About the author

Niamh Dean sitting in office reception

Newly graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a degree in Psychology, Niamh Deans joined Jacobs for the summer as a marketing and communications intern in the Product Marketing team. Niamh successfully worked on several projects during her internship and is now pursuing a career in corporate communications.

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