Here I am at the end of my 4th week at Sense About Science.
What can I add to what I have already said? This internship has been an incredibly positive experience, both from a personal and a professional point of view. I cannot say I am sorry it’s over because I don’t think of it as something that’s over for me. I have been rethinking much of my research work in light of what they do here. I believe it helped me deciding what I want to do next, where I want my science to bring me.
So, here are my 2cents for any postgraduate student wondering whether the Charity Insights project is worth trying or not.
At the end of the third week of this pleasantly sunny and warm September, while helping with packing some books for an upcoming event, I found myself mentally going through my to-do list, thinking what I have done and what still needs to be finished.
At the end of October Sense about Science will be awarding the Maddox prize I already mentioned, a recognition to people who are committed to clear communication of science despite adversity. The nominations for this prize were 55 this year and needed to be read through, their information checked and summarized. I had gone through the candidatures carefully, looked for the material on line, put together a summary of each profile, trying to be at the same time accurate and complete, but synthetic.
The second week at Sense About Science has been packed with old and new things. I feel I am learning a lot and getting more involved in the office actvitities, which is a great feeling.
The day starts always with the news: the entire office team gathers and skims the newspapers looking for articles reporting science-related stories. The purpose is to check if these accounts are reliable, if the science is reported in an accurate way, if the claims made are actually evidence-supported or not.
If they sound unclear or dubious the team discusses about the opportunity of asking the newspaper or the person who made a statement for some science-based evidence.
Well my last week came to a close at CABI. Like many of the other Charity Insight participants have written, I also feel that the experience has been tremendous. In my PhD, I had come across many articles and books written by CABI and so the opportunity to work briefly in their office was a fulfilling personal experience. I also learned a lot from working with Peter Baker about the challenges facing the coffee sector, the other organizations involved, and some of his perceptions on how to address the challenges it is facing.
The modelling was very challenging as I had limited experience in Excel VBA and Monte Carlo simulation, however, it is amazing what you can find online to show you the way once you know what you are trying to implement.
Well week 3 went by fast! Some of the highlights from the week:
- Presented to some interested CABI staff the preliminary results from our coffee risk modelling endeavours and discussed how to use stochastic methods in Excel.
- A conference call to a colleague in Germany at HRNS to check in and plan the next steps for where to focus effort
- Said goodbye to my office mate who is off to Vanautu to teach a farming training course with cocoa producers.
- Said goodbye to my supervisor for the week as he was off to Germany and then Colombia for coffee meetings.
People do such an interesting variety of work at CABI and I’ve really enjoyed my time in the office (though I have to say, I think I’d rather be in Vanautu when I look outside 😉 ).
It somehow felt appropriate to end my internship with a week cut short by the bank holiday. My main project was in good shape to begin with, so there were no concerns about finishing it in just 4 days, the general atmosphere at the office was cheerful due to people returning from bank holiday weekend trips and longer holidays, and I swear that even the weather seemed to get better as the week progressed. On the other hand, it was weird to part ways with something that you were so intensely involved in for a short period of time. No more skimming through energy news in the morning, suiting up every day even though you knew it was not really all too necessary, and coming up with creative uses for the IF-statement in Excel, even though there surely was a proper way to get the same task done.
Just a few minutes before the bell tower of St James’ Church opposite our office strikes 5, I suddenly realize one week has already gone by and it is time for a blog post.
I entered this office Monday, not even one week ago, but I already feel I have found my space here. When I knocked on the black door of 14 Clerkenwell Green I was carrying a backpack and dragging a 18kg suitcase with all my stuff for the coming 4 weeks.
The moment I got off the last bus and walked towards the office of Sense about Science, the charity where I will do my internship, all the thoughts and expectations I had about this new experience suddenly came back to me and evaporated in a few seconds, replaced by an excited feeling of curiosity.
So I thought I would do a quick round up of what I have learnt on my internship since I am at the end of my final week 🙁
- How to link data
- How to communicate the same information in different ways effectively for different people and purposes i.e Writing a report, a memo for a meeting and a PowerPoint on my project (oh and these blogs! This has been fun to do!)
- I think my touch typing has got better all this time at the computer
- I have learnt conditional formatting on excel and how to add data filters (forgotten skills from GCSE ….) ,kindly retaught to me by fellow intern Chloe
- How to plan a project
- New experience of how businesses work – communication, IT, people skills and more
- How much words impact the meaning and reception of information
Advice for students hoping to apply to this wonderful and fulfilling programme next year (or interns working for charities in general)
- Do not underestimate getting to know people and creating networks – I would not have got my placement otherwise!
It is amazing that the time has arrived to write my final blog. It has honestly flown by, it only seemed like yesterday that I was witing my first one. It is a very bitter-sweet moment.
This week I have been expanding on the project mentioned in my previous blog. Initially, I was required to contact various institutions and charitable organisations over the phone and ask whether they provided or supported any specific LGBT services. After a long day on the phone, I concluded that there were no sevices in the Leeds region that provide such a service. From here my sub- supervisor is now in a position to establish his own clinic within Leeds supporting Children within the Barnardo’s programme.
Week two flew by and I forgot to get a post done by Friday; I thought I’d bash it out this morning. It was an exciting week as I’ve finished a first draft of the simulation in Excel and we are now getting feedback from a few experts. I have a skype call today with a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) expert based in Germany for HRNS to walk-through the model and discuss future steps.
The situation for coffee farmers in Central America has been very tenuous the past few years due to a fungus called Coffee Leaf Rust or La Roya.