My internship at IDEA has really shaped my thoughts for future careers.
Lots of students at Imperial are driven by two career prospects : the hardcore pursuit of scientific knowledge and wanting to “sell out to the man” and get a high paying job, probably in something like finance.
I was definitely one of these students, until my internship at IDEA. It is often hard to think about how your work directly affects others, either in a positive or negative way. Through my research at IDEA, I have been able to contribute to the highlighting of a major problem within the Debating Circuit that subsequently people are going to try hard to change.
Last week, the European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC) took place in Manchester. It was a week of stress and fun. I was there as part of the Imperial delegation, who ended up rocking it.
When I first joined the Imperial College Union Debating Society, they had only ever “broken” (gotten to the finals or semi finals etc of a competition) at one competition. Since then, our society has started to really take over the debating scene. EUDC this year typified this growth in our society.
EUDC consists of three days, each having three rounds of debating. On days one and two, you get to know where you came in the debate, i,e, whether or not you came first, second, third or fourth.
My project involves a large amount of data processing. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. I’ll briefly break it down for you:
At an average debating competition, there are approximately 40 teams. Each team consists of 2 people. That’s 80 participants per competition. No information is provided about them apart from their name and their institution, and often people decide to input funny names instead of real ones.
The information from each debating competition is called a “tab”. I am currently processing over 50 tabs from 2010-2013. I have to identify each participants gender, which takes longer than you’d expect!
I’ve never had a proper job before, so two weeks working 9 to 5 at IDEA has been a bit of a reality check. Not because it hasn’t been fun, but it is a bit strange having to say to friends “I can’t come out today, I’m working”. However, even with the 7am wake up calls, I’m really enjoying my time at IDEA.
For those of you who don’t know, IDEA is a charity which works on a global scale to teach debating, a skill which is so, so, so beneficial. It can improve your confidence, your ability to read and write, and also, most importantly, can enable critical analysis of issues from more than one point of view.