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My internship at the GSI

Global Sustainability Institute

Faculty: Science and Engineering
Category: Student blogs

30 June 2016

Image of GSI logo covered in flowers

For 11 weeks in 2016, the GSI hosted two paid student interns to help with our research and comms work in EfS. Ava Heinonen was one of them, based in Cambridge. Here's what she had to say about it...

Coming to the end of my second year at uni, I wanted to find a job or an internship where I could put the skills I learned to some use. I was quite lucky that the same week I decided I needed a job, I wandered to Coslett and picked up a leaflet about internships at the Global Sustainability Institute. I read it through, found it interesting and knocked on the door of the GSI office to ask if I could still apply. That same night, I applied, got an interview and here I am, 11 weeks later finishing up my research and communications internship at the Global Sustainability Institute.

My first major task was to do a pilot study about whether certain areas of Education for Sustainability are present in my courses’ curriculum. That was a few weeks of reading through every single module guide of every module offered for Computer Science students trying to find out whether sustainability or skills for sustainability are incorporated into the module curriculum, and writing a report of my findings to the GSI staff.

I was also involved in the Responsible Futures Survey, which has been promoted throughout the University for the past several weeks. I did some promoting online, but it was mainly face to face asking students to fill in the survey. A surprise finding of the study was that students are more willing to fill in a survey if you offer them cake than if you do not! Reading student responses and analysing the data from the survey for has probably been my favourite part of the internship. We got responses from each of the University’s campuses from students studying over 90 different courses, so it has been interesting to see how we all see sustainability, and which issues we see relevant to our life and our degree of study.

The survey results are going to be presented to NUS, and knowing the information I am gathering may well be part of a published study at some point made it feel worthwhile. It would have been great to be able to dig deeper into the survey data, but unfortunately my time here at GSI is coming to an end so that’s a job for someone else. Last week I worked on researching articles for background reading for the report, part of which the survey results are going to be. It has been interesting to read about Education for Sustainability and engaging young people to sustainability. I wouldn’t read these articles as a part of my course, so it’s been a whole new world of information for me.

Going into my 3rd year next September means it’s soon dissertation time, and having now done the process of getting survey participants and analysing survey responses, that part of my dissertation is going to be easier. I feel I am also more equipped to write academic papers for different audiences, and on finding and analysing information. Also weeks of going up to students with surveys have definitely given my communication skills a boost.  

By Ava Heinonen
EfS intern, May 2016


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