My name is Isabelle and I am a student at the University of Aberdeen and will be going onto my third year of study. I take English and Sociology and I am a part of the University’s student newspaper, The Gaudie. I interned with the Public Engagement with Research Unit (PERU) who are a team within the Research and Innovation section of the University office. I was tasked with finding a process for the collection and management of data from researchers who take part in PERU’s public engagement event. This is data regarding their gender, age, ethnicity, as well as other personal characteristics, and is used to meet Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion targets. I had an academic interest in this as a Sociology student because we had to find a middle ground between acknowledging distinct differences in personal characteristics (particularly with ethnicity) while also making sure that we are not compromising staff and students' right to anonymity and privacy. As a person of colour, I could personally recognise the importance of finding this balance. I appreciated how the project was challenging in this regard and had some very interesting conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion, and what that can look like in practice.
At the beginning, I found the number of meetings a little overwhelming (and all the acronyms I needed to learn), but I quickly got used to them. The meetings were a very important part of the project because we first had to find out how other teams were handling reporting on EDI characteristics in their events. What we concluded was that many teams did not have a process in place, and that the project turned out to be more needed than we originally thought. We also had a number of meetings with the data protection team, who patiently helped guide us through the murky waters of data protection. We had to update them with every change made to the process to make sure that we still abided by the University’s data protection policy.
At the same time, we looked into what programs were best for the management of the data. While Excel is used across the University, it is not the most ideal for collaboration. Early on in the internship we were introduced to PowerBI, which is a program that allows the creation of visuals from data imputed. I received training for the programs and got to work with dummy data, which was challenging at first, but I enjoyed learning how to use the program.
Finally, I created a report with the recommendations that we devised over the ten weeks, and it has been sent to numerous teams and individuals, and hopefully will be implemented and adapted to fit their needs. The final report was made with Canva, where I was able to be creative with the layout and the designs. Throughout the internship the support the project received was encouraging, and the feedback was invaluable for its progression. Overall, I am so thankful for the experience and for the guidance from my manager and team, and I look forward to what’s coming next.