https://foresightprojects.blog.gov.uk/2018/07/10/interns-wanted/

Interns wanted

The Government Office for Science (GOS) are recruiting graduate interns to work on a wide range of important, high-profile science and policy issues. Two current interns talk about their experiences.

Sam Patel, Futures and Foresight team intern

I joined the GOS in September 2017, having applied for the internship scheme in the summer, when I was writing up my PhD in climate change sciences at the University of Southampton. I wanted to explore opportunities outside of the university environment, and the internship looked like a great way to bridge the gap between academia and the real world.

I was placed in the Futures and Foresight team, which, at first, I found a little daunting as I had no experience of this kind of work. With excellent guidance from my manager, my team, and all the friendly people in GOS, I quickly understood why, what, and how we did our work. Essentially, my team’s work involves identifying emerging and long-term scientific trends which are used to inform strategic thinking across government for policy development.

I’ve had amazing opportunities since I have started. Just three weeks in, I represented GOS at an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conference in Paris, where I presented our work to senior officials from global governments and international organisations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Sam presenting at Civil Service Live 2018

I’ve worked on projects with the UK Space Agency, helped develop scenarios for international trade strategies, and advised the Ministry of Justice on aspects of the UK’s future out to 2030 such as the challenge of an ageing population on the justice system. I’ve contributed in high level meetings with GOS’ Director and the Canadian Chief Scientific Advisor, and with a Director General in a foreign Intelligence Agency.

Other interns have come from a variety of backgrounds – some straight out of their Bachelors or Masters and some with other work experience in between. It’s a great mix, the diversity of knowledge and experience is really refreshing.

I highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in learning how government works, and how science and evidence is used in policy development. From what I’ve learned here, I’ve been successful in getting a policy role in another government department – no doubt I’ll be using my GOS contacts in my new job!

Rebecca Nohl, Environment and Rural Affairs team intern

I applied to join GOS in summer 2017, while I was finishing a PhD in plant biochemistry. I enjoyed my years of lab work immensely, but I was looking for a job which would enable me to work on a wider range of issues and see how science can impact policy decisions and people’s lives. The application was quite straightforward, but I did find it useful to get in touch and discuss the role first with the named contact on the advert. This gave me a good idea of what day-to-day work in GOS would be like.

I joined the Environment and Rural Affairs team, whose portfolio of topics is extremely broad, ranging from climate science and air quality to food production and rural community life. The work of the team involves providing rapid advice on specific issues, convening expertise, and developing larger projects looking at the long-term futures of our areas of interest.

In the nine months I have been on the team so far, I have visited world-class research centres, helped organise a conference for 150 delegates, met the Australian Government’s Global Chef and an impressive range of academics and rural business leaders, and tasted hydroponically grown pak choi (it was delicious!).

I really enjoy the varied and collaborative nature of the work. It is so satisfying to be able to apply my scientific and analytical skills to cross-cutting problems, while simultaneously learning about the workings of government.

The skills I learnt during my studies are definitely put to good use. Synthesising information and producing high-quality literature reviews was a big part of my PhD and is also an important aspect of my current role. The understanding of the research landscape I gained from working in a lab for four years is also very useful. I plan to stay working in GOS a while longer, I have accepted a new job in my current team.

I would definitely recommend the scheme to anyone who would like a chance to use their scientific background to think about the long-term future of challenges currently facing the UK, and to assist policy development with clear evidence.

Apply now

Applications for the GOS graduate internship scheme are now open and close on 15 July 2018. For further information and to apply, visit the Civil Service Jobs website.

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