Ziyun: School of Arts Languages and Cultures - Learning Through Research Intern

Why did you choose to do an SEI?

I wanted to work on a summer internship in the UK since I really wanted to gain some internship experience in a new place rather than in my home country. I realised this might be my only opportunity to do so as an overseas student. I chose to apply for a Learning Through Research SEI because I thought I would be more confident working in an environment which I was familiar with, and my family would also be reassured by the fact I was employed at the University.

Give a brief snapshot of your role:

• My role was focused on a project about studying the role of accent in mate selection in the range of Northern England.

• I recruited research participants by introducing the project and its meaning to passers-by and asking them if they were interested in participating.

• I also undertook data collection, including collecting valid audio recordings and questionnaires response from participants.

• I transcribed recordings using linguistics processing software, including Praat and ELAN.

• I also curated a display booth to display the work I had undertaken on my research project at the Research Internship Celebration Event. This event was attended by both researchers and fellow Learning Through Research interns.

What were the most enjoyable aspects of your role?

I really enjoyed the fact I could talk to my very nice boss and the PhD students working around me during the internship, as I learnt a lot from them and gained a better understanding of linguistics in different fields (especially phonetics).

I also enjoyed recruiting participants; I found that my confidence improved dramatically by approaching passers-by to participate in the study and through recording participants.

Did you have any worries or concerns before your internship? Were these overcome and if so how?

Since I am a 2+2 student who had spent less than a year in the UK, I was really worried about my communication skills. I was anxious when thinking about recruiting Northern English speakers whose accent could be relatively hard for me to understand. Fortunately, my boss and peers were patient enough to explain everything to me and helped me build the confidence to make the first steps in approaching people in order to recruit participants.

What did you gain most from the role in terms of insights and skills?

The internship is a very good opportunity to see what the academic life is like, and to gain research experience. I’ve learnt some specialist linguistics knowledge, exploring areas outside my course. Additionally, it was very nice to meet people in the field. I also gained a better understanding of linguistics in different fields (especially phonetics) after talking to my very nice boss and the PhD students working around me. I also met interns from other disciplines, allowing me to see what’s going on outside linguistics and sociology.

In addition to the skills I gained relating to linguistics research and analysis, my transferable skills were also developed. These included time management, communications skills in different situations, and presentation skills.

Do you have any words of wisdom for future interns?

Just don’t be shy and go for it.