Jonathan: Body, Eyes and Movement Lab - Autism Research Intern

What did you do?

The main focus of my internship was analysing data of eye movement (saccade/fixation). I participated in three experiments on topics including visual perception, time perception and predicting actions. I also participated in three lab journal club activities where researchers discuss current research into eye movement and Autism. I also attended the Autism@Manchester ‘Expert by Experience’ advisory group and gave feedback on an experiment that had been undertaken by researchers in the group.

What did you learn?

I learnt about the different eye movements (including saccades and fixation saccades) but more generally I gained an understanding of how sensory research on Autism is really important. This was my first job and it has taught me a lot, including what it’s like to work in a work environment. I gained experience of working from home, time management, and making notes in meetings etc. This experience means I can add a wide range of transferrable skills onto my CV. Also, I have learnt how I am not alone with Autism; the expert group emphasised that there are other people with Autism and we that are often misunderstood.

What was the work environment like?

My line manager Dr Emma Gowen was supportive from the start. I met her for an hour once a week on Friday mornings. We discussed things of concerns or which required further clarification. This included the data I was analysing, events and IT. Meetings with my DASS representative have been key to the success of this internship; having regular contact with them on a weekly basis has helped me talk through some of my concerns and uncertainties about the Internship. Overall the working environment has been very supportive and even though I had no/little work experience prior I ended up thriving in the work environment.

Did you enjoy it?

I would absolutely recommend undertaking an internship as I enjoyed having the opportunity to see what’s happening with the research into Autism in terms of vision and the opportunity to work alongside researchers. The Internship has been beneficial in allowing me to mostly overcome a fear of getting employment, and also by proving that employment is very much open to me.