Blogging is something slightly alien to me, especially in an academic sense. As an Open University intern it is part of my role to blog about what I’m doing and quite simply, it seems that the activities I’m currently a part of are just too interesting to keep from you all!
To start off I’ll give you a little background about what my internship consists of. I’m working alongside Dr Richard Holliman on the Engaging Opportunities and Catalyst projects, in particular supporting students working on Media Training Workshops where they produce videos about OU research.
Last Wednesday I worked with some young people from Denbigh Secondary School as they participated in the Media Training. This was the first time I had come into contact with the project and had a very limited knowledge on the ins and outs. In this particular session the young people were preparing for the next day’s filming, coming up with a solid idea for a five minute film. The only focus they were given was the Invisible Witnesses project. When discussing possible film ideas both groups decided to look at female representation of scientists within media. This created interesting discussions with young people who, it seemed, had not necessarily thought into the idea before.
It was interesting for me, someone who is used to being on the other side of the camera, to learn about what has to go into planning a film. From what I learnt, it’s extremely hard and incredibly challenging; yet, great fun! Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the outcome of these films but am eagerly awaiting the finished project.
On Monday I began my internship by meeting and briefing the next group of students for the media training. This particular training is concentrating on the nQuire project, created by the Open University. It’s a platform on which people can create a ‘mission’, which is a form of enquiry, and invite others to help them solve it by adding data, etc. Linking this with the media training gives the young people a focus for their work. From my experience on the previous media training, I found that giving these young people this type of focus meant that the work was of a higher standard. It also challenged them in other ways then the training itself requires.
I think here I should note one particular thing I have learnt from working in a science department at the Open University: the importance of the coffee break. Every day at about 11am everyone congregates in one room to share their work, any stories they happen to have that day and the biscuits. At first this was daunting; it’s an awful lot of new people to learn about in one room. But then it quickly became an enjoyable part of the day.
Tuesday was supposed to be the day I got to shoot a water rocket. Now, this wasn’t just for fun, it was because we needed to test the rockets for the water rocket competition to be held at Denbigh School in a couple of weeks’ time.
At the school, we riffled through many messy school cupboards to find out the crucial bit was missing! No rockets were launched that day! Now no need to worry, we have found the important bit, hiding in Mike Bullivant’s garage, and will be test launching rockets next week.
Wednesday was a day of space science and learning how to blog. We started the day by meeting Ross Burgon about the media training taking place in a couple of weeks. Ross works on the Rosetta project which personally I find just incredibly interesting and I’m sure the young people will as well. This meeting was to plan and organise the media training, getting Ross’s ideas on the project so that the young people had more of a focus. You’ll hear more about this in my final blog post. I also got to meet Ann Grand, who taught me all the ins and outs of blogging as an OU employee. I have to say, it’s all very technical!
Thursday: nearly the end of what has been an extremely varied week. Today was a quieter day, giving me a chance to work on this blog. But I also got the opportunity to learn about what it takes to be an interviewer. Rick took some time out of his schedule to help me learn how interviewers think. Before this I assumed all interviewers thought about was how to torture me in an interview. Yet it turns out this isn’t true and actually it is very hard to be on the other side of that dreaded table. Looking through CVs and job descriptions to get the questions seems like an obvious thing. But it’s not until it’s someone else’s CV you’re looking at that you can really see the sort of questions you might be asked. On Friday I’ll get the chance to test these new skills on someone practising for future interviews. Today I also got to help Rick with the after-dinner speech he is giving on Friday evening: ‘The art (and humanity) of engagement: an after-dinner speech in four “courses”.’ Instead of doing an ordinary speech to a group of people who have been spoken at all day, Rick made what I would say was a wise choice; to do something a bit more interactive. Using lots of different activities, he wants to engage his audience a bit more throughout their dinner, getting them to think about ‘An engaging thesis’. This to me is very interesting and I’m sure the attendees will enjoy the activities.
Friday was the day of the interview. I have to say that being an interviewer is a very odd experience. It’s hard to think of the right way to phrase a question to get the best answer out of the candidate and give them the best chance to show off about themselves. What was also incredibly challenging was trying to be both as nice as I could be and looking neutral, especially when the candidate was incredibly nervous! I have to say that it has certainly made me think a lot about my own CV and interviews and I think this weekend I’ll be giving my CV a serious bit of TLC.
So that was my first week of being an OU intern. As you can see it was jam-packed full of activities and excitement. Now for a nice relaxing weekend before the first week of the media training, which you will be able to read about this time next week!