Oxford Q-Step Centre funds a number of undergraduate internships over the summer, each of which requires specific data-handling. Here is some of the feedback:
"I had a fantastic time interning with the Political Team at YouGov in Central London, funded by Q-Step. Whilst undertaking the internship I had a number of different roles within the team, which saw me following a multitude of different projects through from start to finish. Work usually begins when YouGov receive briefs from clients for questions they would like asking to the public. It would then be my job to turn these questions into unbiased, non-leading survey questions. Once the client had agreed on the question wording, the questions would then be scripted onto the YouGov system using Python. I was initially quite computer programming-illiterate, but it was easy to pick up the basics.
Once questions had been scripted, they would be made live and sent to members of the public to answer. When we had enough respondents (usually ~1,500), the data would be formatted and weighted, to make them demographically and politically representative, using SPSS. Again, I had no knowledge of SPSS coming into the internship but I was given lots of help to get up to speed, and would now feel comfortable using it. After results had been weighted, they were put into an Excel spreadsheet and formatted to be ready for release to clients or to the public. Finally, I would check press releases from clients to ensure that they were not misquoting or misrepresenting YouGov data, as well as writing up reports to give a brief overview of the data for clients.
My work at YouGov was very hands-on. One of the best things about the internship was the amount of responsibility afforded to me during my time there, which included having clients assigned to me to work with one-on-one. I felt like a valuable member of the team, and got on really well with my colleagues.
YouGov is a very young and fun office. Most of the people I was working with were in their twenties and early thirties, and it was an incredibly sociable office to work in. There were lots of work nights out and social events taking place within YouGov, so I got to feel part of the group very quickly. I had a great time there, and would definitely consider working there in the future."
Synergy Global Consulting Synergy works with natural resource extraction and infrastructure businesses operating in challenging environments
"The experience I had at Synergy was unique- it had the culture and feel of a small start-up office (complete with wooden floors and exposed bricks!), but had a global reach. I’ve interacted with senior consultants in their Johannesburg office, and gave a presentation of my work to the global team. There was a good work-life culture present, and telecommuting was seamless, allowing me to work on my data analysis from my college library using computers specialised to handle data analysis.
My internship mentor, Ed, was extremely helpful and approachable during my time, despite the business travel he had to do, or family commitments. As we were working on a project relatively new to Synergy, it was pleasant to have his support and expertise. The rest of the team was also happy to assist me, from mundane administrative tasks to information requiring expert input.
I’m proud to have done meaningful work here at Synergy, and would highly recommend this internship to candidates interested in the very unique position Synergy occupies in the consultancy industry."
The BBC's Visual Journalism Unit interprets and presents data for its domestic and international news platforms.
"As part of the Oxford Internship Programme, in conjunction with Q-Step, I spent six weeks as an intern with the British Broadcasting Corporation. The internship was based in the visual journalism department—part of BBC News but several floors above the newsroom (and operated on a more formal 9-5 basis than the 24 hour ground floor office could allow). The department itself presented an efficient microcosm of online journalism: journalists, editors, developers, graphic designers and language teams work side-by-side to produce online content. An asset when figuring out how to scrape data from the web, or put together a complicated graphic, the extended team manages to steer clear of the ‘inefficiency’ accusations levelled at the BBC by its detractors. I was able to work from idea to publication with little bureaucratic difficulty.
Throughout the six weeks I worked on a range of tasks, including standard intern fare of research and odd jobs (although always relevant, interesting and news-related), to defining my own piece through solo data research, looking at the court placement for women’s and men’s tennis players at Wimbledon. My work was featured on BBC Sport online. I also created graphs for various news and business stories, many of which I had to research the data for beforehand, and was given freedom to choose how to present my findings in a way that would be most compelling for an audience. The team also work on medium and longer-term projects, some of which I helped contribute to. It was fascinating to see the level of research and care that goes into the production of more complicated interactive projects.
The internship showed me how data can effectively be deployed within journalism to create informative, interesting, and visually appealing pieces of work. Working alongside data journalists certainly crystallised my desire to enter the field (or one similar), and the skills I learned during the Q-Step program aided my ability to work alongside data and incorporate it into online pieces. Data journalism is the direction in which the industry seems to be heading; making the six weeks I spent at the BBC a fantastic and worthwhile insight into news and journalism."
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.”