- Tanya Popova
What are our 2022 interns saying about Neighbourly Lab?
2022 was a very significant year for Neighbourly Lab: we found some great people to join us (we actually doubled our staff and started operating in Scotland); we worked in lots of different areas (social connection and health, volunteering, essential workers, transport, loneliness and many more) and we brought about significant social impact in local communities.
Image courtesy by Flaticon.
Through our thought pieces shared with you every month we try to keep you close to our work, aiming to increase connectedness in communities around the country. One thing that we have not had the opportunity to write about is the internship programme that we run at Neighbourly Lab. It is a paid internship program, as we believe all people should have equal access to opportunities regardless of their financial situation. Last year we brought on 6 interns in total who made invaluable contributions to some of our biggest projects: four students from Sussex University who did a summer internship with us and helped gather data for the Essential Mix project; one recent King’s College graduate who travelled 500+ km and made 90 hours of observations, and an IT student who helped us make our website experience more user friendly.
Filling these 6 spots was not easy - we received more than 50 applications in total - and went through multiple rounds of interviews to make sure we selected the most passionate and engaged candidates.
We designed our internships around 3 key focus areas:
Supervision, support and mentoring
The first thing that we did in developing the internship programmes was to make sure they offered enough diversity in the tasks so that interns can get the best possible benefit from the experience. We included data collection sessions, observations and community event engagement as a part of the fieldwork, followed by coding and analysis sessions, and desk research. A full day of training was provided to each of the interns - they received a specially-designed session on qualitative research and data collection, after which they practised on the field with our research team. Interns were encouraged to be proactive in their communication with our partners as a way of gaining confidence in building professional relationships at the workplace - we had complete faith in their abilities to represent Neighbourly Lab. However, we made sure to provide constant supervision and mentoring whenever they bumped into situations unknown to them. We believe that our daily check-ups and regular feedback sessions helped in building interns’ knowledge and ways of self-evaluation. We also elicited ongoing feedback from them to understand how we can improve our intern programme as it evolves in 2023 and make our future opportunities even better.
Below you can read what they had to say about the time spent with Neighbourly Lab:
“It was lovely to meet you all and be part of the project, it has made me more cognizant of my interactions with essential workers, and I'm thankful for how accommodating you all were during this internship. I have learned so much about research, auditing, and interviewing. Especially the importance of ethnographic surveying of individuals relevant to research.“
“I would describe my experience as being hosted by friendly and diligent staff who closely followed my work and helped me when I encountered hurdles. I also found the experience a useful insight into work life and taught me new skills about working in a team environment. I am grateful for the opportunity and experience.”
“During the summer of 2022 I worked as a research intern with Neighbourly Lab on their Essential Mix project. In this role, I received in-depth training on data collection techniques such as intercept interviews and field observation, as well as gaining insight into the work of a non-profit organisation. I got to meet and work with some wonderful people, as well as building my confidence and skills as a researcher, and am extremely grateful for this amazing experience.” - Mia
"I couldn't have asked for a more fulfilling experience and a start to pursue my passion in behavioural science. Travelling 500+ kilometeres, approximately 90 hours of observation - on London's beautiful, reliable, red public buses, I was able to learn so much about the little things that can trigger behaviour change on public transport. Grateful to Neighbourly Lab for giving me this incredible opportunity to play a part in the Essential Mix."
If an internship with us sounds like something that you are interested in and you are a keen supporter of making our communities stronger, please get in touch with us - we are always curious to meet the brightest minds!