Reflections on an Internship with Wales Centre for Public Policy

In this blog post, Aimee Morse discusses undertaking an internship during your PhD.

Finding an internship

There are numerous internships on offer with various organisations. The DTP works specifically in partnership with several organisations across Wales who have developed internship opportunities and the UKRI run internship programmes in partnership with organisations across the UK.

Internships are advertised in the monthly DTP newsletter, so keep an eye on the section if you’re keen to apply for one. This is how I found out about my internship with the Wales Centre for Public Policy, so it’s definitely worth reading!;You can also speak to your supervisors regarding internships in your research area. My supervisors mentioned colleagues in other organisations running internships, though they always encouraged me to choose the right one for me, at a time which worked for me.

How I knew the internship was for me

First and foremost, I talked it through with my supervisors. We discussed how I would make the internship work best for me. I chose to conduct a project in a similar field to my PhD research topic; however, it may be possible to choose something in a different field that may still complement your PhD theories and/or methodologies.

I had to make sure the internship would not clash with my PhD fieldwork commitments, and felt that three months would be the best length. My internship fell right within the 2021 lockdown; however, this did not affect my experience and I was surrounded (virtually) by a team of supportive colleagues who were always on hand to answer questions and share their thoughts on my work. Having a short, interesting project to focus on throughout that time really helped my overall approach to my PhD; submitting a completed report allowed me to return to my PhD work confident that I could overcome the stops and starts of the last 18-months to complete my thesis too!

Compiling a successful application

I have now completed two internship applications, and in both setting aside ample time to complete the application process was crucial. Some, such as the UKRI Globalink Exchange Scheme (which I was unfortunately unable to complete given international travel restrictions), may require you to access application portals through a supervisor or institutional account (Je-S in this case). If this is the case, schedule in a meeting with your supervisor to ensure you can get the application uploaded on time!

I would recommend speaking to potential supervisors from the organisation offering the internship. Discussing project ideas with them allows you to understand what they expect of their interns, and whether your work will be a good fit with theirs. This also provides you with an opportunity to talk through their application process and the documents you will be required to submit. Getting to know a potential supervisor in an initial call can also help during the interview process and as you settle into your work with a new organisation, as you won’t be faced with a screen or office full of completely unfamiliar faces.

My experience at the Wales Centre for Public Policy

It was really interesting to learn more about the work of the Centre and how they support policy-making and public service delivery across Wales. Though it was strange not to set foot in their offices, I was made to feel welcome by the team and their support made the virtual experience well worthwhile. Working with the Research Team allowed me to develop my current competencies and consider how I can best apply them in a new team context.

During my time at the Centre I researched agricultural policy in Wales and explored how collaborative working can help farmers achieve their sustainability goals. This involved telephone interviews with farmers and partners of a Sustainable Management Scheme funded group in north Wales. Conducting this research, and producing several outputs, boosted my confidence in delivering on short-term projects. I’d recommend exploring the different dissemination options available for your work – before my internship I had never considered producing a podcast, but thanks to the team and my podcast participants I now have a podcast episode to complement my written outputs!

Your internship experience will vary depending on the organisation with which you are working. However, overall, you can expect to:

  • Develop your competencies, particularly in relation to working in a team.
  • Develop networks with policymakers, practitioners and other researchers.
  • Gain an understanding of how your research might be used in ‘real-world’ situations.
  • Finish your project with at least one output, such as a report, which may contribute to your PhD or be used and referenced by your internship host organisation in their work.

I would strongly encourage you to consider completing an internship as part of your PhD. If you have any questions about my own internship experience, you are welcome to get in touch with me (aimeemorse@connect.glos.ac.uk / @06aims on Twitter)

Aimee has also written a report detailing the specifics of her time with the Wales Centre for Public Policy, which you can read by clicking here.

Breakfast Briefing Event – Putting PhD Power into your Business

Join us for talks from businesses that have worked closely with social science doctoral researchers to increase productivity, realize strategic goals, and build support the development of talent and skill in Wales.  The ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership trains social scientists, as one of 14 prestigious research networks across the UK. Collaboration with partners in the private, public and third sectors is central to our mission.  Non-academic organisations, no matter how big or small, can have a genuine stake in a social science research project and a role in producing the next generation of leading social scientists.

In this session you will hear from Dr Charlotte Beale, Head of Economics for Dŵr Cymru, Dr Michael Evans, Rail Projects Officer for Transport for Wales, and Professor David Egan, Welsh Government, on how their organisations have worked closely with social science researchers.  You will hear how supporting a collaborative studentship or hosting a work placement can add value, whilst giving a PhD student the opportunity to gain critical knowledge and skills for work in industry.  Professor John Harrington, Director of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, will advise on how to set up an arrangement which directly benefits your organisation.  The session includes the opportunity for you to put forward any questions you might have on collaboration to a panel of supervisors, doctoral students and businesses.

Join us on Wednesday 20th October 2021 for what promises to be an enlightening and informative session.  To register for this briefing, which will be held on Zoom, follow this link Breakfast Briefing – Putting PhD Power into your Business Tickets, Wed 20 Oct 2021 at 08:30 | Eventbrite

Rebecca Windemer: My top 5 tips for designing and undertaking an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship

The post PhD job market is challenging and completely demoralising. By the time I finished my PhD I had lost confidence in myself and my research. I had spent the past few months applying for a large number of postdoc jobs, sometimes getting to interview but never getting the job. As a result, I nearly didn’t apply for the ESRC postdoctoral fellowship. I knew I wanted to do more with my PhD and share my findings, but I felt that I had no chance of success. It was only thanks to encouraging feedback on my thesis from colleagues that I finally decided to apply. Continue reading

Aimee Morse’s Wales Centre for Public Policy Internship

From January to April 2021, DTP student Aimee Morse (Environmental Planning, University of Gloucestershire) undertook an internship with the Wales Centre for Public Policy, working on a project entitled ‘Collaboration and policy implementation at the local level in Wales: a case-study evaluation of a farmer group in North Wales’.  Here are Aimee’s reflections on the experience. Continue reading

Conor John’s Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Internship

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In 2020, DTP student Conor John (Psychology, Cardiff University) completed an internship with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA).  Conor worked with his hosts to find ways to undertake the internship whilst adhering to COVID restrictions.  He found the internship experience beneficial.  “I have no intention on staying in academia and this internship has shown me how much more impact can be had outside of academia, as well as the potential for better job security and financial stability”.  Here are Conor’s reflections on the experience.

Continue reading

Welsh Government Internship Opportunities

Deadline: Friday 5 August 2022

The Wales DTP is pleased to offer three internship opportunities with the Welsh Government, working on specific projects covering a range of topics including Education and Net Zero.

The internships are open to any ESRC Wales DTP funded student (except those within 3 months of the start or end of their studentship).  It is anticipated that the internships will be conducted remotely, commencing in Autumn 2022, for a period of 3-6 months (full-time or the part-time equivalent).  Successful applicants will get an extension to their PhD equivalent to the duration of the internship.

These internships will offer opportunities to create impact by contributing to the work of government, the chance to build relationships outside of academia, as well as the ability to develop research skills in a policy environment.

Full project descriptions are available in the attached documents:

Please submit your completed application form to enquiries@walesdtp.ac.uk by 12:00noon on the day of the deadline.

Open consultation on the ESRC’s review of the PhD

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The ESRC has launched an open consultation to inform its review of the PhD in the Social Sciences. They seek views on current doctoral study from within and outside of the social sciences from all members of the research community, learned societies, government, business, third-sector organisations and others who have an interest in the future skills needed by social science PhD students. The findings of this review will directly inform the ESRC’s strategy for doctoral training and for recommissioning its Doctoral Training Partnerships in 2022/23. The consultation is open until 16 September 2020.