Lessons, Discoveries and Epiphanies: Interning at Junxion
Josephine Billany shares her reflections and learnings from her insight into Junxion.
Josephine is a Biological Sciences graduate with a passion for social and environmental justice.
In January 2022 I joined Junxion as an intern for three months. This time has flown by and the experience has been life-changing. I want to share with you my journey to joining Junxion, and what my time here has taught me about the organisation, myself and the world.
The Universe Has Got Your Back
Right now the world is in a mess. Between the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate emergency and the plethora of other global issues, it’s easy to feel hopeless; like nothing good is happening. I felt this way a lot towards the end of my undergraduate degree. The pandemic had cast a dark shadow on my university experience and I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation.
Procrastinating from my studies, I saw an Instagram advert for an organisation called Catalyse Change. They run career courses aimed at young women who want a career in sustainability. Destiny (or targeted ads) had intervened. The course taught me about different job roles and I really honed in on my interests and skills. However, the real game changer was being assigned a mentor, Jessica. She helped me navigate my pathway from leaving university to finding my first proper career opportunity. Jessica helped me come to the decision to quit my draining retail job that was holding me back. That very evening she found out that a social impact consultancy was looking for a temporary paid intern. Serendipity. I left my job, applied for the internship and got it. My next chapter had begun. I learned that, with perseverance and hard work, good things do indeed happen – perhaps even the universe is looking out for us.
Internships Aren’t Always Just Grunt Work
As you’ve probably guessed, the internship was for Junxion Strategy. Adam (Managing Director of the UK team) had been the person sending out requests for applications for the internship. Joining Junxion I thought I would just be ‘the intern’, chugging away in the background to get the dull stuff done. However, my expectations were wildly exceeded. My first couple of days were a trial by fire, learning how to use new systems and software whilst being briefed on project work. It was a lot, but I have always relished a challenge. To my surprise, I was invited to the team’s weekly meetings where everyone was friendly and welcoming. I was even asked to produce a headshot and biography for the website. I was treated like any other employee – I was a Junxionite!
This experience was refreshing and the total opposite to my perception of internships – I imagined interns should be seen and not heard. But I was seen and heard! Not only was I valued more than I had expected but I was trusted to do a lot.
I worked on so much more than the two projects I was hired to assist with. I was brought onto another pro bono project where I was supported to produce the majority of the final deliverable and was even given the opportunity to help present it to the client. This was a great learning experience for me and it really boosted my confidence that Junxion had given me so much responsibility. In just a few months I had learned so much and completed such a variety of tasks. From client meetings to making presentations, data management to research…I enjoyed it all.
Business Is An Ecosystem
My degree in Biological Science taught me a lot about ecosystems; about the biodiversity within them and how they provide the services vital to sustaining life on earth. Every species within an ecosystem has a role to play and they all work in support of one another to efficiently provide services e.g. nutrient cycling and water purification. If one species declines then another is ready to step up and take its role so that productivity isn’t sacrificed. I think that a good business runs like an ecosystem; with everyone working in harmony to fulfil their duties and helping each other whenever needed.
At Junxion I was really well supported to learn how to play my part in it. My go-to person, Helen, always had time for me. We had weekly meetings to check how I was getting on; I could contact her whenever I wanted some help or had questions. Her support meant that I had a great understanding of our work and could quickly get to grips with tasks. This enabled us to form a symbiotic relationship where I could also support her by stepping up when her plate was full or she was away. In weekly team meetings, Junxion allows space for people to ask for help if they have too much work or need advice, whilst there’s also space for people to make offers to help. Seeing this was reassuring, I knew that I was working somewhere where people cared about each other’s health and wellbeing. I discovered that Junxion is a well-balanced ecosystem; providing a service that is crucial for moving us forward into the next economy.
Change Is Happening
As I mentioned before, given the current state of the world, it is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of it all. A study published in 2021, found that 59% of 16-25 year olds worldwide feel ‘very or extremely worried’ about climate change. I sit firmly in that category. Working for Junxion helped to relieve me of some of my climate anxiety because I knew the work I was doing with them was serving the greater good. The team are all like-minded individuals who care about the issues in the world and it felt comforting to be around them. Junxion are change-makers, they audaciously push other businesses to be the best they can be for people and the planet. Junxion doesn’t just talk the talk. They have the mouth AND the trousers.
They truly live their values.
They are generous with their time and expertise to both colleagues and clients.
They are courageous in advocating for system change and acting as a critical friend to other businesses. They are curious to learn how they can continue to improve.
And, they also have fun!
Being exposed to Junxion’s network has also been reassuring as there are lots of businesses working hard to improve. Existing within our capitalist system without exploiting the environment or people is not an easy feat but businesses are trying!
Junxion was one of the first businesses to become a B Corporation (a certified force for good) back in 2016 and now there are over 700 in the UK alone. Working at Junxion I have witnessed positivity and optimism and I discovered that change is happening.
Sherry Is Delicious
Maybe you already knew this or perhaps you aren’t a fan. It’s likely you are wondering why I am bothering to tell you this. This lesson is entirely symbolic. I had this epiphany when I visited the Junxion office in London. I went with the team for dinner after work to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. It was a lovely evening of sharing food and stories. Breaking bread with others has always been seen as a way to connect and bond and it definitely was. This was particularly significant for me as Junxion had offered me a full-time permanent job so it was great to build my relationships with the team. We finished our wonderful evening with a glass of sherry (which I was hesitant to try but ended up loving!).
It felt symbolic to me that I enjoyed what I see as such a ‘grown-up’ drink. I have come so far in the last few months, I have experienced a lot of self-growth and development. Sort of like your taste developing as you age and you go from drinking soda to sherry. I have grown from a climate anxious graduate to an optimistic Analyst at Junxion Strategy. I am truly grateful for the support of everyone here at Junxion, particularly Adam and Helen for enabling my development with their teaching and trust. I am excited to continue to be a part of the amazing and inspiring work that Junxion does.