DTC student Karis Vaughan (Cardiff School of Psychology) recently completed her 3-month internship with the Welsh Government, working on the project ‘Preventing Childhood Obesity’. Karis said “I believe that taking part in the internship scheme has been one of the most valuable experiences that I have had during my entire university career”. Here are some of her reflections on the experience.
“The main purpose was to investigate ways in which Local Service Boards (LSBs) go about evaluating and understanding the impact of their initiatives for preventing childhood obesity. My work included conducting a desktop review of current LSB actions and in depth interviews with selected LSB members. I aimed to identify examples of best practice that could be shared with other LSBs as well as to identify gaps in understanding where capacity could be built. Ultimately, the research was intended to inform the development of a toolkit that LSBs could apply to understand the impact of their actions.
“My main goal in undertaking this internship was to gain experience in working outside of academia. I wanted to build an understanding of how research is applied in the real world to directly impact policy and to experience first-hand the realities of working in the public sector. I also wished to develop my transferrable skills for working in a non-academic environment, for example communicating with a lay audience and managing the differing priorities and expectations of different departments and stakeholders
“All of my expectations were met and I feel that I gained a genuine insight into the ways in which research and government policy interact. This position gave me a good idea of what it would be like to work for a governmental or similar organisation once I have finished my PhD.
“I was also provided with many extra development opportunities which I had not expected. For example I was able to attend a variety of seminar and training workshops which did not directly relate to my project but were very interesting and useful in providing me with further ideas for potential future career paths. I was extremely well supported during my internship. I felt that everyone involved was very concerned that I should get as much from the internship as they did and were keen to ensure that all my expectations were met.
“The final report that I produced will be disseminated among Local Service Board Members, some of whom participated in the research, by the Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups (A programme within the Welsh Government which aims to improve the delivery of public services for vulnerable groups). In addition the report may be published by the Welsh Government.
“As this was quite an ambitious project to conduct in such a short timeframe I think that my internship experience has greatly benefited my research management skills. The fact that I was able to produce a report which I was very pleased with in a novel context, coupled with the positive feedback that I received from my mentors, has greatly increased my confidence, both in myself and in the quality of my work.
“I feel that the experience and skills that I have gained and developed during my time as an intern will make me an attractive candidate for a wider range of positions than I was before I took part in the internship scheme. I believe that taking part in the internship scheme has been one of the most valuable experiences that I have had during my entire university career. I would enthusiastically encourage students to take part in this scheme.”
For details of Wales DTC internships, see our internships page.