Work Placement – Administrator at Sound Thinking Ltd

Contributor: Claire

What? Administrator for Sound Thinking Ltd (an Educational Psychologist and Speech Therapist Team)

Why did you choose this place? I was recommended to contact Julia (the educational psychologist) by one of the teachers where I did some work experience, who is also the sister of another employer.

How did you find the application process? I met with Julia initially intending to ask for some voluntary work, but she then said she would be able to hire me as an administrator, along with some possible voluntary work with Rebecca Hill, the predominant Speech Therapist of the company. Initially it was only 8 hours a week, but as the company has gone from strength to strength my hours have increased!

What do you do here? As Julia completes assessments, I enter the background information provided, gathering important conclusions from the given information; enter the appropriate psychometric assessment information; and Julia’s observations into the report structure. I ensure that this in the current and appropriate format. I also enter the majority of information into Access Arrangements, ready to then be approved and any other information added. Additionally I have other administrator duties such as organisation, creating files, photocopying, sending emails, posting etc. Obviously all documents I edit are approved by Julia after, but the fact that the bulk of the information is entered into the document, makes the report process quicker.

The good things: I love working here! It gives me a great insight into the other allied health professionals that often work with Speech Therapists. Julia and Rebecca are really helpful and I can borrow resources. I have an understanding of a good quality report, and using assessments and the statistics involved. As well as increased ability to examine the information in front of me and piece judgements together to make valid conclusions.

The bad things: None!

Anything else we should know: I am really grateful to have this position! I think those who want to pursue speech and language therapy should not underestimate the value of working with the other allied health professionals, because it gives you an insight into the thinking of those who may be on your future teams!

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Internship – Research Intern at the Department of Experimental Psychology (Speech and Brain Research group) – University of Oxford

Contributor: Shyla

What? I spent the summer at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. I was working with the Speech & Brain Research Group.

Why did you choose this place? The group, as the name suggests, does behavioural and neuroimaging research on speech within the brain. I am currently doing my undergraduate degree in Psychology & Linguistics, so the group seemed like a perfect introduction to research in neuropsychology and psycholinguistics. On a more personal note, the thought of living in Oxford and experiencing a British summer really appealed to me (never mind that it ended up being the wettest summer in British history).

How did you find the application process? There was no formal application. I took the initiative to email a member of the group to ask if there was space for an undergraduate intern. Through a series of emails, I was accepted, and began preparing for work by reading some literature that the group had produced.

What did you do here? Most of the work I did is still ongoing, so I cannot disclose too much, but I will try to provide a general idea. I did a multitude of assistant work, as my goal was to learn as much as I could about the research process in relation to psychology and linguistics. One of the experimental devices I became familiar with was used for trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This is a non-invasive technique which conducts electricity to stimulate the cerebral cortex, and we used it for a word-learning experiment. I also personally experienced trans-magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a participant for a group member’s study on brain function and speech perception. The group members that worked in the fMRI lab also took some time out to show me the machines and explain how they analyse scans. My major endeavour investigated and compared speech perception in fluent speakers and people who stutter. For this experiment, I prepared auditory and visual stimuli, which was presented at the British Stammering Association’s Open Day in London. My mentor also guided me through the process of analysis and interpretation of results. Near the end of my internship, I presented the results at one of the regular lab meetings and wrote a journal article-style report about the experiment.

The good things: There are many different aspects of researching language in the brain, and I am glad I was able to learn about several different focus points. I gained insight into the life of a researcher, felt the excitement and pride of running an experiment program I had written myself, and experienced what Oxford had to offer. The research team was absolutely amazing and very willing to guide my thoughts and answer any questions I had. As a team member, I was able to contribute to the group in various ways. It was gratifying to know that my efforts and contributions were considered and appreciated on an equivalent level to the rest of the group, rather than as a mere student looking for something to fill her time. The group made every effort to include me in their activities, both inside and outside of the lab. Oxford’s campus is also quite majestic and I enjoyed walking through the University Parks every day on the way to work.

The bad things: Changing from a student schedule to a job that kept me busy 9-5 was a big change. I felt tired at the end of the day, and even the pleasant walk back to my accommodation did little to boost my spirits, especially if the day had been mentally taxing. If you think you want to do research, be prepared to be sitting at a desk for several hours. Not every day will be filled with an epiphany, and many hours will be spent rewriting the script for your experiment.

Anything else we should know: Sometimes I feel like the things I am learning in class are not going to be very useful in my career. However, there were several points during the internship when I realised that I was actually using skills that I had been taught, such as using a speech analysis program or understanding the reasoning behind a research question. Doing a research internship like this also helped me develop critical reading skills, which are useful for reading journal articles. Reading scientific literature probably takes up about 75% of a researcher’s job. Before I interned at Oxford, I read articles for class but was not really guided on how to glean the appropriate information from it. Reading papers is a skill that must be practised, and I learned how to use information from previous papers to complete special analyses on my data. Finally, while I was in Oxford, the International Multi-Sensory Research Forum held a conference in the building in which I worked. My mentors encouraged me to attend and listen to various talks on the subject of sensation and perception, which was a huge benefit and offered insight into ideas for future projects. If there is anything you have read from this you would like to know more about, feel free to email me at: shylahossain@gmail.com

Internship – Editorial Intern – Gollancz, Orion Pubishing

Contributor: Ceri

Where? Gollancz, Orion Publishing

What? Editorial Intern

Why did you choose this place? This is the job I want in the long run, and I’m a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan when it comes to literature. But this one was through a connection as well – a friend of a friend had just had his own book published by Gollancz, and was in the process of finalising the print of the second (while writing the third). He snuck me into a party full of influential people and I got to chat to the head editor, and from there I was able to set up a two-week internship.

How did you find the application process? Making contacts was actually pretty nerve-wracking; even though I had an ‘in’ with my author friend, I had to make my own impressions on the right people to seem keen, knowledgeable and, above all, suitable. In many ways filling out an application form might have been easier, but I think the benefits of having my face in their minds when my name appeared in their inboxes were huge, and giving them the chance to make their own character judgments seemed to be advantageous as well.

What did you do here? Work was slower at this internship – as it wasn’t as long, and as I was only filling spaces at desks during other people’s holidays, there wasn’t the chance to develop any long-term responsibilities or learn anything too complex. There were different office tasks than at Firefly – binding, copying up blurbs from old book covers, proofreading cover designs before they went into print – but perhaps the most interesting was reading unsolicited submissions from authors who hadn’t come through agents. It was a simple job but I was essentially the judge of which authors went through for further consideration and which were put aside. While the work was sometimes sparse, many of the editors made time to talk me through the processes they went through in their jobs, which was immensely educational and interesting (as well as being beneficial for future interviews!).

The good things: The empty time between tasks encouraged me to make my own work, and I ended up writing reports on each of the submissions I read to pass onto the editors, detailing my decision based on content, style, linguistic ability and so on. The editors seemed pleased with my work, and I was happy to have the chance to be a bit creative and helpful. I also ended my internship with at least four free books – it does not hurt to mention to an editor who your favourite authors are, especially if said authors were published by them.

The bad things: I ended up taking an hour-and-a-half commute to this unpaid internship for two weeks, which wasn’t cheap – I probably wouldn’t have been able to carry on for much longer than I did. There were also long periods when I had very little to do – although I was only asked to read through the first few chapters of submissions, I finished one of the manuscripts completely in between tasks. This was partially my own fault for being too shy to ask for things to do too often, afraid of going beyond seeming keen and becoming a pest.

Anything else we should know? Showing willingness to learn meant I did, because I heard far more via word of mouth about the publishing processes than I ever have from reading about it. I personally think it’s a shame that these days it’s near impossible to get a job without connections and contacts, but learning how best to make them is a worthy skill, as well as how to utilise the ones you already have.

Internship – PR Intern – Firefly Communications, London

Contributor: Ceri

Where? Firefly Communications, London

What? PR internship

Why did you choose this place? It was a family connection – a relative of mine is the CEO. Luckily I also have relatives living in the city who had a spare room, which meant I could afford to be nearby without the costs of a long commute.

How did you find the application process? It was more a case of keeping an eye out for possibilities; the company weren’t specifically looking for newcomers and I wasn’t looking to go into PR, or for an unpaid position, but utilising what I had easy access to was very beneficial in the long run.

What did you do there? I was an all-rounder – everything from data entry and making tea to calling clients and installing printers. But I was asked to ghost-write an experience blog for one of our clients’ service, and after that I was able to draft blogs for the clients themselves, and proofread ones written by my colleagues. Later on I was appointed co-ordinator for the newsletter and was responsible for writing summaries of the blogs. It was mostly writing to a brief but as I was given more responsibility I was able to be more creative with what I was given.

The good things: The general office experience was good preparation for anything I end up doing, and it was the first nine-to-five job I’d ever had, which really gave me a sense of what the ‘real’ working world was like. Because the job role was so diverse it also gave me access to a huge amount of transferable skills I never would have considered seeking out myself.

The bad things: At the back of my mind I knew that PR wasn’t what I wanted to do, and at times I was frustrated that I was putting so much time and effort into something I just wasn’t passionate about. The living arrangements were also stressful at times – I was incredibly lucky being able to live rent-free in the city, but it was restrictive, and there was no other way I could have afforded living costs while working unpaid in such an expensive area.

Anything else we should know: Never pass up an opportunity to do something you didn’t plan to do, because it might end up being exactly what you always wanted. And even if it doesn’t – as it didn’t for me – you’ll know, and you’ll get to work with some amazing people and see what it’s like for them to be passionate about their career. It’ll make you all the more keen to find your own place in an industry. It also means you get a hugely diverse skill set and experience on your CV, and you never know where you’ll be able to make use of knowing how to link a non-network A3 printer to twelve computers.

Internship leading to a position as a Business Assistant – Media auditing and management consultancy

Contributor: Felicitas

In the summer of 2011 I moved to London for six weeks to do an internship at a media auditing and management consultancy, which basically means that they act as an unbiased middleman between the media agency and the company looking to advertise, consulting each about efficient marketing and media placement, especially financially.
I was fortunate to have volunteered with one of the Senior Managers several years ago on projects in Romania and England and we have kept in touch ever since. Since 2006 he has worked his way up through several positions at the biggest media companies in the UK, while I finished secondary school and started university.
When I asked him whether a summer internship would be possible at he was happy to pass my CV on to his colleague who was looking for a summer intern.
Because my friend had recommended me, the telephone interview (I was living in Florida at the time, so couldn’t go to the office in London) was fairly informal and contained mainly details of the type of work I would be expected to do and making sure that I had the relevant technical skills, which were Excel, Office and Outlook.
My work was divided into organising the office and analysing spreadsheets clients had sent us previously. I enjoyed doing both, but in the future I could see myself being a Media analyst.
The good thing about my internship was that I got such an insight into the world of media and marketing in the UK. Previously I didn’t even know there were auditors who ensured the efficient spending of funds between the clients, but thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. I got to work with some lovely people; the team is very young and it is reassuring to know through experience that I will be able to fit in teams quickly and with confidence. Another great feature that was provided by the company was free breakfast and lunch. It made a huge difference – not only to the atmosphere, but especially to my purse. It also shows that your employers care, which is great.
I can’t think of anything bad to say about my time during the internship, mainly because I like to seize every opportunity and can get excited about any task that is given to me. Having the opportunity to live and work in London for a summer at a company that specialises in media, the field I am most interested in forming a career in, would outweigh anything bad that might have come up (which it didn’t).
When I left, last summer, they informed me that they were very happy with my work and that I should get in touch after I finish my last year at university in case that they have an open position for me to fill.

I am happy to say that when I contacted them in April about my forthcoming graduation from university they were keen to get me back on board as a business assistant, a new role within the company, and therefore a completely new challenge for myself. I am very much looking forward to starting in September.