Recently, I completed an internship at the Transport Systems Catapult. Apart from socialising with the office robot, my work consisted of a two-part plan, which was a combination of different projects. The primary phase involved the analysis of data from two different surveys. These were the product of large-scale surveys conducted two different companies within the transportation industry, resulting in the division of the surveyed samples into market segments. Following this process, the second half of the internship was to involve the analysis of specific questions while examining the dataset for the Traveller Needs study. The Traveller Needs (2012) study was a large-scale survey commissioned by the Transport Systems catapult.
The process of beginning my internship was nerve-racking – I was nervous about moving to a new city, and about working among people with a lot more expertise in their fields than I had. With a large blue suitcase that I dropped on the floor of the bus multiple times, I went straight to the office on my first day, and got to meet the team that I would be working with over the next few weeks. By then end of the week, I’d gone from feeling awkward to having friends, as well as armed with a company laptop. From there, the weeks went by in a flash. I got used to having to come into work for 9, and settling in with my headphones and data files. I quickly developed routines – my favourite being a celebratory lunch in The Hub on Friday afternoons.
The work was challenging – I wasn’t quite sure what to do at first, and what analyses to use. I had taken one look at the different datasets, and the long reports, and felt like I had ventured into a whole new world that I was completely lost in. However, one marathon session of re-coding later – which involved the adventure of being locked outside the building in my attempts to use the bathroom – I felt more prepared. From there, it was a slow process of trying out different statistical analyses, and figuring out what really worked for the research questions, and for me. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying sitting in front of the computer and messing around with statistical analyses – listening to cheesy ’80s music was probably what did it. Not so much to my surprise, I loved the luxury of being able to switch off after 5 pm, and on weekends, and not take my work home with me – probably something I should continue doing. Most of all, I loved meeting all the new people, and having a work environment that was friendly and welcoming.
The internship allowed me to dabble with different project, and bits of data, across diverse topics and themes. While providing enhanced information regarding the existing Traveller Needs datasets, this internship also provided me with the opportunity to interact with external organisations and to better understand both practical and methodical considerations to be made when completing collaborative bits of work. It was also possible to gain an improved understanding of the transportation industry, various stakeholders involved, and the crucial factors involved in the provision and enhancement of transportation services.
On a more personal level, I got to see what it was like to actually have an “adult” job – workin’ 9-to-5 is just about as hard as it looks. It was also pretty exciting to live in a new place for a bit (even if that place was Milton Keynes), and I got to make some wonderful friends. All in all, an internship that I would extremely happily experience all over again!