UCL Careers


Research Internship with UCL East - one student’s experience

Hear about Erin John's experience of undertaking a research internship at UCL East.

Image of the UCL East campus overlooking the river Thames.

23 September 2022

I am a full-time taught Master's student at University College London. My programme is a double master’s programme in Economy, state and society. For the second year of my master's, I was enrolled on the Erasmus Exchange Programme and I am doing my second year in Prague. I have had the opportunity to study at the biggest university in London and Charles University which is the biggest university in Prague. The education and experiences I have received from both these world-class institutions are unparalleled. The programme structure that I had both years were very research-centric and because of this, I wanted to find a work role that would enhance my research and analysis skill. One fine day I saw a research intern position open for UCL students on the UCL Careers website, the eligibility requirements of the position perfectly my skills and I applied as soon as possible. I applied for the position intending to gain work experience and as I previously pointed out enhance my research and analysis skills but I walk out of the internship experience with more than professional knowledge. 

The application process for the role was quite simple. I just had to send my CV and cover letter to the given email ID and after careful consideration, I was selected from among the other candidates. My supervisor sent me an email that said I have been selected. The internship started soon after that without any delay. 

My position in the team was that of a Research Intern, and the team consisted of two teaching interns and one other research intern. The project aimed to build a picture of what academics, communities and students need to work on when it comes to Community-engaged learning at UCL east. The team used to meet once a week and discuss the itinerary of the week. There was a list of stakeholders that were to be interviewed and these interviews were supposed to be the primary data sources. The secondary data sources were research reports from different UCL departments, previous curricula and UCL employment guidelines. There are various modules at UCL East in which students have the option of choosing internship/volunteering with communities or organizations. These modules provide the students with work experience and the new campus at UCL East wants to perfect the system of community-engaged learning within their new programmes. For that, the stakeholders who were interviewed were Academics who provide the modules, the organizations that allow the students and then finally the students who have taken up these modules in the past. From the primary sources, an analysis was conducted and multiple reports from each stakeholder's point of view were made. The reports provided insights into the current system and what the management must do to better the existing system. The problems we as a team were trying to solve can be pointed out as follows:

  • identify and respond to UCL East academics who have been inspired by the prospect of launching engaged and innovative programmes for the new campus.​
  • growing number of community-engaged modules and learning experiences planned, the demand that will inevitably be placed on academic’s time to develop relationships, ​
  • potential that community stakeholders become overloaded with requests from UCL East academics.
  • and as of yet unexplored conversation about what community stakeholders themselves would see as beneficial to their involvement, there is scope to do something more than we are doing right now.​

The results were reached in a report and were then communicated to the management and the stakeholders via a Webinar where more suggestions and comments were taken into consideration. As UCL East’s ambitions to promote community engaged learning in east London is very new, as part of the new team, I was able to contribute to providing a framework for the campus to work on. The contribution from my team now provides a route map for the UCL management to work with and thus is a major stepping stone for the campus. The internship arrangement was a team project and I have been an integral part of the team by providing my research skills. My daily activities included:

  • Identifying potential stakeholders.
  • Interviewing each of the stakeholders associated with Community research.
  • Transcribing the interviews.
  • Analysing each of the interviews and making a report. 
  • Adding to the existing dataset of Primary data.
  • Presenting my findings weekly to my supervisor.

Through these duties, I was able to further my skills in research and daily activity management. The research methodology included mixed methods and this was a learning experience as in my master’s programme I was either doing quantitative or qualitative research.

Although I did the internship in a complete remote setting I did not face any difficulty or challenge as my supervisor was extremely professional and helpful and catered to any problems I faced most efficiently. The teamwork and the collaborations I was able to forge have helped me to find a way in my career. I have loved doing research work so much that now I am applying specifically for research positions alone. My passion for research has grown and I feel like I have been able to find a new footing in the job market. My degree equips me to work as an analyst as well but I have got the calling of research and the internship has played the most important role in my decision-making. 

My tip for every student who is not sure about what to do after their education is that find at least one internship/work experience that is related to any part of your programme structure. The benefit of filtering your choices in such a manner is dual, you will know whether you want to continue in this field of education and the second benefit is that you will get accustomed to your dream career path in a small but sure way. One other main piece of advice that has helped me is to keep updating the vacancies that I receive from the UCL Careers page as it has curated every need of mine and given me some exemplary opportunities including this one.