PIPS student profile

Diana Githwe

Newcastle University

PIPS Internship Organisation Name 

Microbiology Society


Office based in London but I worked remotely in Newcastle

When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience? 

When deciding what opportunities to apply for, I was adamant on getting more experience in the world of science policy as it is an area that I considered pursuing for my future career. However, I didn't have much awareness or experience in Policy, coming from an academic background. I was also keen on applying for roles that would give the freedom to use my initiative and creative skills wisely, to benefit my professional work. 

I also hoped to gain more clarity as to whether I would still consider pursuing science policy after my PhD and to form connections and networks with various people in the industry that would give me advice and support throughout my journey.

Did you get the experience you were expecting and did you achieve the personal development you had hoped to make? 

I believe that my experience was everything I'd hoped and more. I definitely managed to gain more of an insight into science policy and would still consider it as a potential career path. 

I was able to develop a project from scratch and produce work that my team, the CEO, the former President of the Society and I were all very proud of and that was useful for its purpose. My manager and the Senior Management Team (SMT) were very supportive of incorporating my creative skills which manifested into me writing the blog for the Society's website. Before I left my internship, I scheduled in some feedback and professional development advice sessions with my manager and a member of the SMT who were able to give me tips on how to progress in my career and how to incorporate all of my skills into any role I choose to pursue. I also massively improved my networking skills as I was able to interview and liaise with senior virologists in the community and able to establish meaningful connections with them and other members of the Society. 

Working from home full time pushed me to limits that I wasn't aware of in terms of maintaining my productivity when my self-motivation was lacking. I managed to find the best way of working that benefitted me such as using time-blocking and pomodoro techniques. Being able to work on my own project from the beginning gave me a taster into project management and my manager highlighted my success in this.

Did you discover anything about yourself or make any achievements that you were not expecting? 

The confidence in my own skills and abilities definitely improved massively due to having the freedom to be independent and manage my time and project. I discovered that I can naturally adapt to different ways of working which is supplemented by my organisational skills and positive attitude. I am also very glad that I found ways to combine my professional abilities and passion projects (blogging, science communication) to create something useful and important to my work.

Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context? - It certainly has. I have realised that there are no wrong options to a career path and that every job in future will reveal more about myself and the next steps of my journey. Also, even if a particular job will not make use of all of my skills, I can find a way to incorporate those skills by taking part in other public engagement and science communication activities.

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