Each year HERU hosts up to three paid Interns in the Unit to build health economics capacity and contribute to our research projects. We sat down with this year’s interns, Jeanne Armand (left) Cameron Owens (middle) and Jennifer Martin (right), to talk about their time at HERU.
Jeanne is a 3rd year Economics student at University of Dundee, Cameron is a 3rd year Economics student at University of Aberdeen and Jeni is a 2nd year Economics student at University of Kent.
HERU: Why did you apply for an internship in HERU?
Cameron: I took Health Economics last semester, and some of the lecturers were researchers from HERU. One of the lecturers on the course told me about the internship programme. I really enjoyed the course to that point, so I thought I’d like to see more of health economics, and see it applied.
Jennifer: So, I googled ‘health economics internships’! I started thinking about what I’m going to do after my degree and what have I enjoyed so far. I enjoyed microeconomics a bit. In my first year, someone mentioned health economics to me. I think health economics is directly useful - not that the rest of economics isn’t useful! For me it’s important to do something that can benefit people. I thought HERU would be a really good place to get experience in this area.
Jeanne: I was already looking in September 2018. I thought an internship at a bigger company might not give me much responsibility. I was really looking for something smaller where you’re given more responsibility and I was looking for some health economics. HERU looked like exactly what I wanted – I saw a sign for the unit when I was visiting someone in Aberdeen.
I thought the way HERU recruit for the internship is very friendly, very personal; not just automated emails. I would get to know if I really enjoy health economics – I think I want to do a Masters in Health Economics but before committing I think you want to see if you like it.
HERU: What have you been working on so far?
Cameron: First up I was working on a data visualisation project in the Assessment of Technology group. I had to compile all the previously published results into Excel and built a dashboard in Tableau. It’s something I never knew about or used before, so I came in totally blind and think I got on quite well. I’ve gained a lot from that, both in Excel and Tableau. It’s something I quite enjoyed and I wanted to learn more about data and data visualisation. The feedback I’ve got from everyone around the office has been really helpful – everyone’s been really positive.
Jennifer: I’m working on the first part of a Q-methodology project, so I’m researching people’s opinions on vegetarian food consumption. I’m looking on the internet, and analysing focus groups. Some peoples’ opinions can be very interesting – I have to categorise opinions so that other people can say how much they agree or not with different statements. It’s been really interesting – I don’t really know anything about it, so I’ve learnt and I’m contributing a bit to the project.
HERU: Have you done any qualitative research before?
Jennifer: No, I haven’t done any before! In this part of the project, the work is a lot about thinking how to structure things, and what’s important to people.
Jeanne: I’m doing a literature review on Decision Aids just now. I didn’t really know what to expect in the internship. Now that I’m at the end of this project I’m more comfortable talking about it. At the beginning it was confusing – the papers I’ve been reading are by medical doctors, communication experts, only a few by health economists. So, I was kind of thrown in, trying to understand what they’re saying, how to link the papers when they have different methods, different approaches. It was quite challenging because it was my first literature review. It’s really good because it was hard but next time I’ll know what to do…
HERU: How does what you’re doing compare to what you thought you’d be doing?
Jeane: I didn’t know what to expect, I knew there were lots of different tasks. I thought an intern can’t be doing much, so I’m doing more than expected! I thought I might be doing data entry, paperwork…
Jennifer: Yeah, like you said I thought interns wouldn’t be doing much but we’re responsible for own bit of work.
Jeanne: Yeah, I’m quite happy about that!
Cameron: I like the way we’re given a task, and just kind of given the tools and told to go for it and let off the leash to explore the material.
Jennifer: Saying that, everyone’s always there to help. In my office here, there are two PhD students who were in my position a couple years ago.
Jeanne: I think it’s a very good environment; not just PhD students but Research Fellows and Professors are always very friendly and here to help. As an intern it’s like the best possible scenario. You can learn a lot, lots of transferable skills, surrounded by people that want to help.
Thanks to our interns for sharing their thoughts with us!
Our internship programme is on hold at the moment. Any details of future training opportunities will be advertised on the HERU website.
HERU is supported by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates (SGHSC). The views expressed here are those of the Unit and not necessarily those of the CSO.