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Chun Hei
Research Intern in Urban Data
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to utilise and further improve my knowledge and skills learnt from my GIS modules. This internship also gave me an UK working experience.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Department email

Application process

The application began with an online application form and followed by a virtual interview, approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The entire process from the submission until getting the result was taken around 2 weeks.

What made you choose this organisation for your placement/internship?

The Department offered a position in doing research with QGIS on urban data and my postgraduate programme centred the discussion of property development and sustainability. It was fascinating to have an opportunity to work in the University with a group of experts and researchers specialising in urban infrastructure, resources, and the built environment.

Main responsibilities

My role was a research intern in urban data to improve and complement the existing data of the Sheffield digital property database for future research. I was required to compare two datasets under different licences and extract data which reflects the current property developments in Sheffield. The data extraction was then be used to update the property dataset for future research project. I was also responsible to complement existing data by editing features such as building area, heights, building materials etc.

Typical day

My typical day began with a great breakfast and a cup of coffee from the café to ensure I have energy to work as my work required an enormous amount of focus and concentration. I subdivided the property database into smaller areas by its boundaries. Meanwhile, I looked into the second set of data and compared both dataset by each datum and feature until lunch. After the lunch, I would continue my work until the area is cleared. As the database covers the entire boundary of Sheffield, it usually took me two days to complete one small area due to the high amount of data.

I also often had meetings with my supervisor to discuss about the progress once a week when I encountered problems, and we had bi-weekly team meetings to report our progress and discuss others' research projects particularly those from the PhD students who had their research submitted for conferences.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

The experience is fascinating, and not only do I strengthened my GIS knowledge and skills, communication and other soft skills, I was able to join meetings and exchange feedbacks from other PhD students and researchers about each other’s research project. I gained inspirations on various perspectives in enhancing city resilience and building sustainability. The colleagues I collaborated were kind, sincere, and knowledgeable. It was my pleasure to work with them.

Challenging aspects

There were challenges on the analysis and presentation of the data as there are conflicting data in the datasets which affected the accuracy of the datasets. It required time-consuming checks for each area in Sheffield on QGIS and the Ordnance Survey. Possible site visits could be necessary sites in the city centre. Thanks to my colleagues and my supervisor for offering valuable advice and comments, I understood there was a better analytical method to check the data more efficiently. The presentation is therefore clearer and be easily understood.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

My GIS knowledge and skills were greatly improved with the reliance of QGIS during my work, as well as my research skills in scanning through features and extracting essential data for the constructing the database. I also had my communication skills strengthened through presenting and regular meetings with my supervisor and the team for progress check.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Yes, I actually realised that GIS-related career was not about repetitive work solely focusing on utilising GIS software for spatial analysis but also interesting collaboration in civil engineering work, such as determining building materials for sustainable architecture. The placement inspired me to look into GIS-related careers as the experience was fascinating.

As a result of your placement/internship, what are your next steps in planning what you want to do after graduation?

As I will be graduating soon in coming September after the submission of my dissertation, I would continue my journey finding a graduate position to begin my career in planning, surveying and perhaps searching for GIS-related careers.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Look for the placements you are interested and apply them before they are gone. Sometimes there are qualities or requirements which perhaps are not best suited to your own package, yet it is important to try and apply because those qualities may not be important as you thought. You may get the position simply because of your CV or interesting stories delivered in the interviews. Also, remember to read the terms before starting the placement to avoid any disputes on the contract.

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Form completed: 19 Jul 2022

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