Life as a Wellcome Trust Intern
The Wellcome Trust offers a number of paid summer internships at Trust HQ. These are aimed at giving current undergraduates the chance to experience working an area of the Trust that interests them, and we hope to inspire, support and develop the next generation of people who can make a difference. As their time at the Trust comes to an end, we caught up with them to find out what have been their highlights, surprises and what they will take away with them as they return to University…
Carys Boughton did her internship with Wellcome Library. She is studying for a BA in History of Art at the University of Cambridge and her highlight was taking a painting from the Wellcome Library’s collection to the National Gallery to be x-rayed. “The results were fascinating!” she told us.
Elizabeth Jones is studying psychology at Durham University and spent her summer with the Neuroscience and Mental Health team at the Trust. She enjoyed the ‘Mindfulness’ press briefing that she attended. “It was interesting to hear more from the researchers about the study and to see how the press covered the project in the papers the next day!”
Emma Dixon is Editor-in-Chief of a student magazine at St Andrews and is about to begin her fourth year of a molecular biology degree. Her internship was with the Editorial team, who look after Mosaic, Big Picture and more. The highlight of her time here was being able to publish content she’d been working on for the last two months!
“My highlight has been spending nine weeks meeting incredibly talented people, both within the Trust and external grant-holders, and being able to concentrate on a topic area I really love” says Georgia Threadgold, who worked with the Medical Humanities team during her summer break. The placement complements the history degree that she is studying for at the University of Bristol.
Caitlin Jones Fullerton spent her internship with our Innovations team. “I really enjoyed being able to read award applications and then attend the committees where funding decisions are made” she says. “It was great to get an insight into some of the projects at the forefront of medical research and to hear expert opinions on which projects look promising, where they might fail and the kind of impact a successful application may have on society.”
What did you learn about the Trust?
“Before starting here, I had not realised that the Wellcome Trust had quite so many facets to it” says Carys. “It carries out and takes part in a huge variety of projects, which is testament to how receptive the whole organisation is to different ideas.” Legal intern Josh Rodger, had a similar realisation, saying “The Trust does not just fund medical research, but also is involved in furthering science through various means whether it is funding films, games or school initiatives.”
Oliver Hurley, who is studying for a business degree at the University of Kent, found out how important the things the Trust gets involved in are to society. “During my internship, the Trust published the news that they had effectively funded a new vaccine for Ebola” he says. “I’ve never worked for such an inspiring organisation that has such amazing impacts on the world!”
Caitlin agrees: “I always knew the trust funded scientific and medical research but I didn’t realise the scope of their impact – from science policy to education and arts funding, and even funding a man to live as a goat for three days!” The scale and global reach of the work that we do at the Trust is on a par with the diversity of projects that we fund and support.
What new skills have will you take away with you?
King’s College London Computer Science undergraduate Vincent Truong worked with the Trust’s IT department for his internship. He’s seen a big improvement in his business analysis skills and developed his communication with people during meetings. He’s also learnt “you can’t be afraid of your own opinion”.
Amara Lalemi-Jacobs is taking away a lot of new skills, experience, new friendships and connections from her time with the Education and Learning Team. She’s also keeping her free Wellcome Trust careers season cup as a reminder of her time with us.
Carys tell us she has an even stronger desire to pursue a career within organisations/projects that value multi-disciplinary innovations and a constant focus on self-improvement, while Caitlin says “I now feel more confident in the direction I wish to focus my degree and what to do next when I graduate”.
Elizabeth now has “the confidence and information to start looking at careers I hadn’t even considered before” and Oliver says he’ll take away invaluable knowledge about where he wants to go, and what he wants to do in regards to his career. “My line manager and mentor have been brilliant in making sure I’ve had every opportunity available and getting me to take the initiative and grab them.”
“I’ve learnt so much about the writing/editing/publishing process that I’m sure will help me with the student magazine and beyond” says Emma. Jodie Rogers is studying Psychology at the University of Bristol and she joined the Engaging Science Food and Drink Team. “I have definitely learned more about social media marketing as well as our current unsustainable global food system.”
What surprised you about working at Wellcome?
Cameron Jones, studying classics at University College, London enjoyed the independence that he was given during his internship with the Education and Neuroscience team. “I’ve never had such freedom to work on things in my own way and see projects through to completion” he says. Vincent enjoyed working of projects that have real impact, and Amara was surprised by the range of people working here “from scientists, to doctors, to legal staff – I enjoyed being able to work with such a range of people”.
“Wellcome is the largest organisation I have worked for” says marketing intern Kelsey Cryan who is studying for BSc Management with Marketing at Royal Holloway. “What amazed me was the diversity of roles and scope of areas within the Trust”.
“I got the feeling the Trust is really interested in what interns have to say” says Georgia. “They are always asking what we think, what we don’t like and what could be improved, so you feel like your opinions really matter.”
“You hear some horror stories about intern’s just spending hours photocopying or doing tasks that nobody else wants to do, but it’s not been like that here” says Elizabeth. “I’ve been made to feel like part of the team and had my own project to work on.”
“People are so giving with their time” says Oliver. “I was surprised how open all Trust staff members (whom I had the opportunity to interact with) we to engaging and working with interns” agrees Carys.
“A lot is expected from you!” says Sydney Ambrose, studying biomedicine at King’s College London. “Your opinions are valued and the work you do will contribute to the work of the team. That made it very exciting to come to work every day and it made you feel like you were making a difference.”
“This opportunity has been amazing, my department could not have been any more helpful and my time at the trust has been so beneficial!” says Kelsey. “I’ve been transferred into a Trust-ite for sure!” says Oliver.
“It’s made me relax a little bit and look forward to the future rather than dread it” says Georgia. “It feels as though there are lots of opportunities that I now have to take advantage of, rather than viewing graduate life as terrifying and uncertain because now I realise everyone – even the most experienced people – sometimes feel like that.”
We’ve really enjoyed having such a lively bunch of interns with us this summer and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all of them for their hard work this summer!
Our 2015 cohort of interns were: Mohadeseh Abdullahi – AMR Review, Sydney Ambrose – Engaging Science, Carys Boughton – Wellcome Library, Sophie Bracken – Evaluation, Kelsey Cryan – Marketing, Emma Dixon – Editorial, Oliver Hurley – HR, Cameron Jones – Education and Learning, Elizabeth Jones – Neuroscience and Mental Health, Caitlin Jones Fullerton – Innovations, Amara Lalemi-Jacobs – Education and Learning, Fleur Marien-Osborn – Investments, Bianca Mulaney – AMR Review, Josh Rodger – Legal, Jodie Rogers – Engaging Science, Emily Stringer – Finance, Georgia Threadgold – Humanities and Social Sciences, Vincent Truong – IT.
If you’re interested in applying for a summer internship next year, be sure to keep an eye on the internship section of the Wellcome Trust website. We also run a graduate development scheme and offer a range of funding options, including Biomedical Vacation Scholarships.