Reflections from an internship in the Doctoral Academy

As we intently look outside the window for signs of anmonica actual summer, the academic year as we know it is coming to another close. Everywhere around the University Sheffield you see students packing up their things, the study areas begin to decongest, and maybe a colleague or two moving on to do better and brighter things.

Just like many of the things wrapping up by the end of the month, my time as a Doctoral Intern is coming to a close. It’s a good time to reflect on the experience of doing an internship at the Doctoral Academy (DA) while being a PhD student at the same time.

The DA internship was easily one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my PhD life. Why, you may ask? The internship gave my PhD a whole lot of perspective.

As part of the DA, I realised that I was part of a living, breathing community of people just like me that are going through a similar PhD journey — with its cycles of productivity, anxiety, and joy. My struggles with my project were not in any way unique, and talking to peers at our coffee mornings and laughing about our stresses and worries made things seem a lot less scary than had I handled them alone.

Doing the internship was not tough in itself: the hours are quite minimal and flexible, the team and mentors in the internship kind and supportive, and the PGR peers we got to know in the process were organised, passionate, and genuine.

It was very refreshing at times to mentally check out from my intensive data-crunching project and meet real people. I also enjoyed putting together events that helped address issues at the university (e.g. our PGR space focus groups). In the process I learned some of the inner workings of the University, and gained a lot of practical experience with event organising and communication.

As Laura and I pass the baton onto the new set of interns, I only wish that more PhD students are able to have a similar, fruitful and gratifying PhD experience which I got from my internship.

Had I not been part of the DA, I would not have been able to meet so many wonderful, passionate students who are keen to make something of themselves and something of the work they care about.

Written by Monica Ortiz, Doctoral Academy Intern

June 2016