UKRI Policy Internship Report: Chloe Waterman
Chloe took advantage of the internship scheme and completed her three-month internship with the headquarters of the national charity Age UK in December 2019. Whilst at Age UK she worked in the Policy and Research team, part of the Influencing division of Age UK. She wrote a (to-be-published) policy position paper for use by the charity which focused on older person’s access to justice. For this report, she had the opportunity to conduct independent research, and informally interview different experts within and external to the charity. She had the opportunity to speak to specialists across many different departments, as well as external organisations and individuals working on improving access to justice. She was given the opportunity to attend lectures, seminars, and visit the charities other offices and local partners. Working with the team she conducted a case study, created infographics using mapping software and produced a draft policy paper.
Chloe commented on the opportunities afforded to her by undertaking the internship: “The opportunity for me was a perfect insight into the kind of career I would like to pursue following my PhD and showed me how research is applied and used in different settings. I learned how to write for policymakers and the importance of political impartiality for influencing and for the charity sector. I enjoyed working collaboratively within the team and being able to ask experts at the organisation for their input on key elements of the report (as policy papers are authored under the brand of the organisation). I worked in a great department, and felt supported throughout the process, I gained great insight into how charities produce research, for what purpose, and how they use it (press, influencing politicians, influencing internal programmes etc…). Though I worked exclusively on a policy position paper, I attended meetings with staff from across departments which gave me insight as to how networks worked across the organisation. I would say the best thing I learned from this internship is that research opportunities are varied, and different limitations apply to different settings, and I hope to have at least begun to learn the practical skills I would need to research in policy departments with charities.
The internship was a great opportunity to experience a different research environment, and work in a very different way to the PhD process. It also means I have learned more about how to write for different purposes. I worked for an organisation I admire and conducted research into an area I would have otherwise not known of, and am now keenly interested in. My experience has confirmed how I would like my career to progress, and I would recommend it to all PhD students unsure of their future career. This is one of the few opportunities to gain insight and experience working outside of academia while developing and learning skills which will be invaluable for your PhD progress and career beyond this."