Oxford Q-Step Centre funded five undergraduate internships over the summer, each of which required specific data-handling. Here is some of the feedback:
Citizens’ Advice is a charity whose core service is to provide advice to the general public.
“During my internship, I handled several tasks that involved analysing the work of the host organisation. Citizens Advice offers free advice to people on all sorts of issues, ranging from electricity tariffs and consumer rights to debt problems and homelessness. Each advice given is coded for classification, before being stored in an electronic database. With thousands of advice appointments provided each year, the aggregate advice codes can provide insight into the problems faced by residents of the district. I performed statistical analyses on these advice codes, which included identifying significant changes and interpreting recent trends. My analysis reveals interesting social patterns that are often unnoticed. It also assists the host organisation in identifying trending problems in the community so that they can allocate resources more effectively. I also updated the profile of the community where the host organisation is located. The profile includes key pieces of socio-demographic information of the district, and offers volunteers a rough guide to the population and key issues of the community. The task involves searching through reports and policy documents of various government departments for the most updated figures. I compiled a summary of observations, and highlighted the major challenges faced by citizens living in the area.”
“My principal task was researching and writing area profiles for the area surrounding the organisation (CAWO). I updated a pre-existing profile for West Oxfordshire (the area where the CAB is located) and created two new profiles - one for Oxfordshire and one for the Cotswold District. The profiles aimed to provide information about the demographic and economic make-up of the local population. It covered areas such as health, crime, deprivation, employment and unemployment. I looked both at the latest statistics and at trends over time - e.g. concerning the age profile of the population. The purpose of the profiles was to inform CAWO's s planning by providing a picture of current and likely future needs. The two new profiles I created were required against a specific political and economic background: the possible merging of two local authorities, and the impact of such a merger on the work of CAWO. Another important task was to draw up an Impact Report on the work of CAWO. Although this was based on a template provided by the national CAB movement, its purpose was to explain and quantify the impact of CAWO's work by providing data on the economic benefit that its services provide to society the area and therefore the local authority, by addressing needs that it would otherwise have to meet, and by preventing problems. For instance, CAWO's debt and benefits advice is designed to prevent people from falling into homelessness or developing mental health issues through stress. Like most third-sector organisations, CAWO is, in a sense, competing for funding and therefore the ability to demonstrate its impact with data is extremely important.”
Demos is a leading cross-party think-tank that focuses on political research.
”I was involved in a number of projects during my internship. This included writing two literature reviews (for reports on private healthcare and motor neuron disease), producing an overview of literature on character development, producing transcripts and surveys for those projects and helping to submit written evidence for parliamentary committees. I received a significant amount of guidance and feedback for most tasks, especially the literature reviews, which was very helpful and informative. I settled in very quickly, as the work collective was very friendly and welcoming. As someone who is thinking of going into academia and enjoys doing research, doing an internship in a think tank helped me realise that I actually have multiple career paths to continue doing what I love.”
Mount Stuart Trust
Based on the Isle of Bute, the Mount Stuart Trust aims to improve the sustainability and accessibility of the Bute Collection – one of the foremost private collections of artworks and artefacts in the UK.
“The Isle of Bute was extremely beautiful, as was Mount Stuart House itself. For the first half of my internship I got to shadow a variety of people and roles, which gave me useful insight into the organisation. I also did some research and wrote a few reports on the Trust. The last two weeks of my internship were spent working with Professor Lennon of the Moffat Centre, producing a market analysis report using visitor surveys. A highlight was getting to swim in the House's very nice indoor heated pool! Everyone at work was lovely and the atmosphere of the internship was very chilled, which I enjoyed.”
One-Eighty is an Oxford-based behavioural support charity for children and families with complex needs.
“I was involved in two main projects over the course of my internship, in both of which I was essentially autonomous. The first was overhauling the organization's data systems. The charity had been using a spreadsheet to record data on cases, and so I replaced this with a more appropriate Access database. Then with the assistance of the director acquainted with similar statistical programs, I linked the database to R scripts which were used to analyse potential correlations with success across a wide range of factors. These were then summarised and commented upon in the report. The second project was the production of the charity's annual report. This involved extensive research on other charities' reports and then working with the Director and others to create a coherent theme from the charity's pre-existing documents. It was then created using Publisher, with editorial assistance and advice from a member of staff.”