Back to search results
Internship funded by PREP
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

Considering I had been in academic roles for a very long time, I wanted to explore how training for a PhD could provide me with the experience of applying my existing research skills in an industry setting, outside of academia, facilitating in developing professional networks as well as practical experience of translating knowledge into action and understanding ways of creating and evaluating impact. I believed that this experienced will further help to build my knowledge and skills about engaging in action research, how to share such research to a wider audience to create impact and influence policy and provide me with insights about career options and opportunities available to me outside academia. Ultimately, I wanted to see how I could build on my academic knowledge and apply it outside academia on the social issues I am interested in, explore whether there were opportunities for me to engage with in the 'industry' that align with my interests and goals, to upskill myself to stay relevant in the sector and use the internship as a platform for building professional networks.

How did you find your placement/internship?

I found the CEO on Academic Twitter about how they transitioned out of academia and translate knowledge into action to create social change.

Application process

The application process was clear from the onset of the scheme and the PREP team organised online workshops to explain what was expected out of us as well as gave us tips on how to think about and structure the experiences we wanted to organise. They PREP team was very helpful, they also offered 1:1 online support to talk through any aspects of the application and were available to answer queries, coordinate with the organisation and setting them up as a vendor. The only challenge was getting started with the planned activities soon as it took a while before the paperwork got sorted and funds were transferred to the organisation, which caused a slight delay in starting off.

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

The social justice and inclusive social change focus of the organisation I interned with was in line with my own work in social justice and positive real world change. They work on issues of race and racialised trauma, the problem of inclusion and equity in higher education and take an active approach to act on these issues, influence policy and create social change. My PhD research involves working with racialised women in the field of gender based violence from an intersectionality lens using action research, all of which is highly relevant to Ladders4Action's work. I thought these shared interest areas and values would give me a positive experience and help me be involved in projects that reflect my passion and work towards my goal.

Main responsibilities

As part of the internship, I worked with Dr Addy Adelaine who was involved in a wide variety of research projects and wanted me to engage in them to gain a diverse range of experiences and develop a wider skillset. My key responsibilities included putting action research and co-production research skills in practice through a co-creation event with Black and Minoritised scholars where I was chiefly engaged in organising and planning the 4 day event, managing the workshops and facilitating the sessions during the event, building professional networks, reflecting and evaluating the impact of actions taken and writing up for a future action research cycle. I was further engaged in reviewing literature and writing about ethics for a non-academic audience. However, due to the limited funding period, I could not engage in the diverse range of projects that were provided to me and all that I would have liked to be part of.

Typical day

I primarily worked online and my working hours were spread throughout a 4 month period because of my visa restrictions and because I could participate in different tasks. The co-production workshop I had planned and organised was in person and that was the only opportunity I had to meet my internship host in person. I supported Dr Addy in planning, organising and facilitating the co-produced workshop programme, reflect and evaluate its impact and write up reports based on the project contextualising it within the action research cycle. I was also involved in reviewing literature on action research, raciliased trauma, diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives and ethics in participatory research to design toolkits for academic and non-academic audiences.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

My internship experience was extremely rewarding. I had started my PhD during the pandemic and had very few opportunity to connect with authentic and passionate people like Addy who share similar research interests, values and work ethics. It was fantastic to work with Addy as she made me feel respected and valued my inputs in all stages of our working. The knowledge and insights I gained through my working relationship with Addy was immense and really valued the transparent, honest and highly ethical work values. I felt very inspired by the work the organisation did and enjoyed the brilliance of Addy. I also found my community of like-minded people through the workshop and networking. I found how writing for a non-academic audience can require a completely different perspective, it was fun and at the same time something new for me to develop as a skillset. Overall, it was an enriching experience and I learned so much about the industry and possibilites outside academia.

Challenging aspects

In terms of the placement activities, I found that reflection and evaluation needed more time and conversations than I initially anticipated. I was really feeling the burden of trauma wor and was grateful that Addy supported me all throughout and provided me with the right amount of guidance, supervision and mentoring that was needed. I also found that writing up took longer and I had to do it beyond the funding period. I would have liked to be funded for a longer period of time to make use of the wide array of experiences that were being offered/provided through my association with the organisation.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I used my subject knowledge on intersectionality, racism, discrimination and ethics in participatory research, my background in social justice and lived experiences as well as transferable skills from academic writing, organising, planning, facilitation of workshops, communication through teaching, evaluation of research impact, reflexivity and critical thinking into practice during my key responsibilities of the internship.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Definitely. I really enjoyed planning, organising, delivering and evaluating co-production workshop and the smaller sessions that went into it. It helped me see how skills from academia were transferable and could be applied in the industry, especially project management, organisational and writing skills. It was amazing to have worked with the community to create sustainable social change initiatives and also develop meaningful collaborations as well as a community of like minded individuals. I wish to continue building on this really positive work experience and hopefully be able to work with or for Ladders$Action in the future.

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

While I still find the prospect of working in academia as appealing and interesting, I think I am much more open to career pathways now than I was ever. I am now highly interested in pursuing a career in social justice through action research, specially if I can combine projects that reflect my research interests with my values and a dynamic work environment. I am very open to exploring consultancy or research roles in qualitative or action research methodology or to help facilitate more meaningful work through training and content design.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

I would definitely advise PhD students to apply for PREP to gain work experience outside academic settings and explore the 'real world'. The experience can be highly positive and rewarding if you find a good placement host, so spend some time identifying non-exploitative and ethical hosts who value your expertise and also give you opportunities to learn and develop because that can make a lot of difference in your experience. Try to explore and identify organisations well in advance as it can take a while for them to respond and confirm the possibility of hosting you. Be patient, adaptable and open to opportunities outside the conventional academic setting as it can help you gain a lot of perspective on career opportunities, choices and things that you might value!

Other comments

I wish there were other funding opportunities for PGRs or a longer period of funding in PREP which, in my case, would have supported development and exposure even better!

Send a question to Ankita about their placement/internship

You may also be interested in...

Form completed: 17 Jan 2023

Back to search results