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Summer Internship Stories at The Data Lab

At the beginning of Summer 2016, The Data Lab offered four intern positions, allowing university students to work across different areas within the organisation. These summer internships provide an opportunity for them to gain valuable work experience and insights into the Data Science industry that complement their areas of interest and study; while bringing a fresh breeze of millennial input to The Data Lab. We are glad to say that half way through the programme, we are already seeing the benefits from their contributions to our work.

Here are their stories:

Amy Ramsay – Funding Intern


Born and bred in Edinburgh, I fled the nest to study Psychology and Biology at the University of St Andrews, where I am entering my final year. Research, data collection and statistics are a large part of my course resulting in a new-found appreciation for quantitative methods. Whilst learning about this is an advantageous skill, one thing I questioned was the real life application of these techniques. I stumbled across The Data Lab when I was exploring internship options for the summer. What interested me was how The Data Lab encourages cross-collaboration between academics and companies to utilise data science to help drive innovation. This answered my question of how what I’ve learnt at university applies in a genuine business situation.

As the Funding Researcher Intern, I am responsible for scoping the UK funding landscape and with Brexit, how access to EU funding will be affected. I am also involved with our Skills programme, where my tasks include MOOC and data apprenticeship research as well as investigating opportunities for The Data Lab’s MSc and EngD courses. Without wanting to sound cliché, every day at The Data Lab I learn something new – whether it be domain specific about my research, enhancing my technical skill in LucidChart and R or enhancing my soft skills. My plan for the future is unclear but my internship at The Data Lab has allowed me to gain invaluable experience of a working environment, as well as helping me determine what type of job is right for me.

Perry Gibson – Project Analyst Intern

Fumbling for meaning in a fast moving world, I find myself a Glasgow lad, at a midpoint in an Informatics degree at the University of Edinburgh. I had been floating around some of the excellent Scotland Data Science & Technology Meetup‘s over the past year, and heard that one of the hosts, The Data Lab, was offering internships. Eager to get some more real-world experience in a field I loved, I took up the role of Project Analyst intern.

I am responsible for examining individual projects and the pipeline as a whole, and documenting my findings to give the team & myself a better idea of The Data Lab’s portfolio spread. Developing an R Shiny application that pulls information from our CRM system and creating interactive visualisations has allowed me to refine my time-management and problem solving skills, and should be a useful tool even after I have moved on.

Where next? In short, I don’t know. I’ll continue to attend events in Edinburgh, and learn about things that peak my interest. I chose Informatics since it offers me a broad choice of interesting fields, I’ve been particularly interested in Machine Learning and other areas of AI. However, subjects such as networking à la IPFS & blockchain technologies are also appealing to me. Whatever I do, I feel more aware of modern business and project processes thanks to The Data Lab, and I’m glad I got the chance to be part of such a dynamic organisation.

Rachel Kilburn – Data Analyst Intern

I’m Rachel Kilburn, a Data Scientist intern here at The Data Lab. Currently I’m half-way through a Mathematics Master course at Newcastle University, studying a range of applied, pure and statistics courses. My main responsibilities consist of investigating The Data Lab’s website, Twitter and LinkedIn analytics. This involves collaborating with Trang, the Marketing intern, to produce weekly, monthly and collated reports. In the 5 weeks I’ve been here my R skills have increased dramatically and I have learned to use new R packages such as ggplot, reshape and dplyr. I have been introduced to Google, Twitter and LinkedIn analytics and the world of Shiny. Regularly, I am scheduling Skype meetings with Trang in Aberdeen, which has improved my communication and time management skills. I have also gained an appreciation for the effort that goes into producing simple computer functions that we take for granted.

As for my future, I’m not sure where my career will take me. I really love the subject I’m studying and so I’d like to have a job where I am able to use the skills I’ve learned. I applied for this internship to get a better idea of the career options that are available to me and get an insight into the big data industry to see if this is a career path I might want to explore. I have really enjoyed my time here thus far and look forward to using the new skills I’m learning in the future.

Trang VuMarketing & Website Analyst Intern

While waiting for my Master application response from RGU, I was fortunate to get the Marketing and Website Analyst intern position at The Data Lab for what could be my last summer in the UK. As a government funded organizationm the Data Lab is radically different from the other places I have worked at. Our objective is to bring benefits to the community and economy of Scotland through data innovation.

My daily responsibilities mainly involve working with The Data Lab’s website and social media channels, maximising the use of analytical tools including Google, Twitter, LinkedIn Analytics and Webmaster Tools. I have been working closely with Rachel, our Data Analyst intern, to produce a holistic report on trends and changes in our marketing landscape. Activities such as events and advertisements are recognised to have a significant influence on the performance and engagements of the website and social media. I am also responsible for enhancing the appeal of the website by designing infographics and improving search engine optimisation (SEO). By using Webmaster Tools, I have been helping the Google search ranking of the website improve gradually using sitemap and metadata.

During my time here, my analytical and communication skills have improved significantly through various tasks. Moreover, I have the opportunity to utilise my strong numerical skills to produce comprehensive reports. With the inspiration from The Data Lab, I have realised my desire to engage with innovative projects involving commerce and technology. I plan to then use these skills to contribute to the economy and community of Vietnam, my home country.

The Data Lab team is proud to have these bright and talented interns on board for the summer. We are already experiencing the benefits of their contribution to the organisation, and hope to continue helping them to sharpen their knowledge and skills in preparation for their future careers.

The Data Lab also helps MSc students from our programme to find placement opportunities in industries such as oil and gas, healthcare, digital technologies and finance. Find more about The Data Lab MSc programme here.

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