NERC-funded Policy Intern (January - April 2016)
Research Student, Faculty of Science, Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, The Open University
"The internship at CSaP provided me with a broader range of experience, allowing me to feel better equipped to apply for roles outside academia. The staff made me feel like I was part of the team from day one, and that my contributions were genuinely useful."
I decided to do an internship because I wanted to learn more about policy, and how scientific evidence is used and understood by policy makers. I was specifically interested in the work that CSaP does as it is so unique, and wanted to learn more about how their relationships-based model works in reality.
Doing an internship at CSaP was an incredibly eye-opening experience. I was initially a little worried that my lack of policy experience would hinder my ability to settle in, but was very quickly welcomed into the team. On my first day, I went straight in at the deep end to organise CSaP's 2016 series of climate seminars, working with Visiting Research Fellow Professor Charles Kennel.
Having the opportunity to work with different academics and civil servants was a fantastic part of the internship, as was attending a wide range of meetings, workshops and seminars. During my time at CSaP I went to events on climate change, research cultures, conspiracy theories and big data, amongst others! These events illustrated to me the diversity of work going on at the boundary between academia and policy, and gave me an understanding of how evidence is used and understood by policy makers.
Over the course of my internship, I gained practical skills such as writing for websites, taking formal notes of meetings and managing events, as well as getting to grips with specific policy-related terminology and conventions.
I was also able to learn a lot from the Centre’s staff, who were always very willing to share what they were doing and discuss their roles, as well as offering kind and constructive feedback to help me improve my work. This meant that I was able to get a real insight into the work that CSaP does in helping civil servants access cutting edge academic research, but also to feel like I was making a positive contribution to that work.
As a result of the internship, I feel better equipped to apply for roles outside academia. It has confirmed my suspicion that I would like to leave academia after my PhD, and as a result of undertaking the internship, I feel like I am in a better position to apply for non-academic roles.
I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to work for CSaP, and would definitely recommend them to other PhD students considering a policy internship.