Criminology and Sociology student Emma Dixon recently completed a summer internship at DECIPHer. She reflects on her experiences and what she has learned.
I will be going into my third year of Criminology and Sociology (BSc) in September and decided to apply for an on-campus internship to gain an idea of what a career in research may entail and to gain some experience with research projects ready for my third-year dissertation. I have had an interest in quantitative data and public health since beginning my degree and chose to apply to the DECIPHer project: ‘Health and Wellbeing: Strengthening a partnership between Cardiff University & the ONS (Office for National Statistics)’ which integrates quantitative data, public health within Wales and a chance to strengthen the connection between the ONS and DECIPHer. Since beginning this internship, my interest for public health research has increased dramatically and I believe that this internship will shape what I will pursue in the future.
A bit of background
My work at DECIPHer has included working with the School Health Research Network (SHRN) data which is collected by DECIPHer alongside national datasets (such as those from the ONS) to understand whether there are similarities or differences in the estimates produced and why this might be. I looked specifically at smoking and vaping rates in adolescents and young adults as this was a personal interest. I have also taken part in stakeholder mapping within both Cardiff University and the Office for National Statistics to see where interests in health and wellbeing might align.
What I’ve learned
I believe that after working within this internship role, I have gained more confidence which will ultimately improve my time at university and beyond. There was a lot of freedom within the placement as I was able to choose what area of health and wellbeing to focus on, and I managed my own time with a combination of working from home and within the DECIPHer offices. Working with DECIPHer has shown the various aspects of a career in research and how diverse the work is which has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and strengthen prior skills such as using SPSS with real data. Working with Dr Kelly Morgan and Dr Caitlyn Donaldson has been an honour and a truly valuable experience as the supervision has kept me busy and on-task to be as efficient within this internship as possible.
Looking to the future…
One of my favourite parts of the internship was the opportunity to visit the ONS Newport office and to work within the SPARK building. Being able to go to Newport and learn about the different sectors of health and wellbeing that they research was an interesting aspect of this internship and gave me an insight to what the ONS does. The opportunity to work in the Spark building was gratifying as there were occasions to join staff meetings and forums to learn about what research is happening within DECIPHer.
This experience has given me a strong interest in public health and has made me consider continuing my academic career. I am so grateful to have taken part in this placement and will take everything I’ve learnt in this experience forward to help my future endeavours, such as completing my dissertation.
To find out about on-campus placement opportunities at Cardiff University, click here: On-campus internship opportunities