In this blog, Jack tells us about his experience interning with the School of Research and Innovation as part of the Aberdeen Internship Programme. Although finding the work interesting and engaging, Jack has, at times, faced challenges whilst working from home. Here he discusses his responsibilities, and how he maintains a healthy work-life balance:
As a member of the Research Culture Task & Finish Group within the School of Research and Innovation, I have been focusing my efforts on cataloguing the experiences and thoughts of researchers across the University of Aberdeen on the research culture and environment they inhabit. For those who are unsure, ‘research culture encompasses the behaviours, values, expectations, attitudes, and norms of our research communities. It influences researchers’ career paths and determines the way that research is conducted and communicated’ (The Royal Society). My daily tasks are various, but the majority of my hours go into writing reports on our findings, locating, and corresponding with, relevant members of staff and students, and assisting in conducting focus groups. By aggregating this data, my hope is that my work will be used by the Research Culture Task & Finish Group to evaluate and design new policies aimed at researchers.
Doing this work from home has been challenging. While it is nice to not have to worry about commuting, packing lunch, etc., it is hard to keep focus at times. Working at my dining table alone means I do not have my colleagues surrounding me to ask questions or chat about the project. Outlining my tasks on a note and crossing them off as I go helps me visualise my goals and keeps me focused, and attending frequent meetings brings some of the social collaboration I miss.
Working from home is also more demanding for me, as the lack of an office setting makes me more inclined to “prove that I am working” by performing at an unsustainable pace. It has been important for me to set realistic timelines and to take short breaks when I feel myself being stretched thin or when my eyes have been fatigued by the screen. I think these are key skills which will be essential for my future career, preventing me from burnout and similar issues.
Ultimately, this internship has been an invaluable experience. Working professionally as part of a team has been incredibly rewarding, and I know much more about how large organisations like the University of Aberdeen operate. With this experience, I now feel well qualified and ready to take on similar roles in a variety of contexts, particularly in education.