I am a PhD student in the astronomy group who recently finished a three-month RCUK Policy Internship at the Government Office for Science (GO-Science). Here I learned about how Government works and where scientific evidence fits in to this.
I worked in the GO-Science Foresight team, scoping out new projects. This has been a great experience investigating emerging trends and drivers and their impact on future policy.
Before my placement I had not realised how many scientists work in Government, and the important role played by temporary staff in GO-Science. From the first day to the last I shaped the direction of the project. The pace of work here is different to that of academic research and I improved many of my skills, from taking efficient notes to project management.
I was given plenty of support by my line manager in developing personal objectives for my placement. I delivered a talk on ‘What has astronomy ever done for us?’, adapting my message to the audience at GO-Science. I presented the different areas of astronomy research and practical outcomes of these, effectively providing a business case for research investment in my field.
I also helped raise the profile of GO-Science by volunteering as a Digital Hero. This involved linking up with different teams to produce material for our Twitter feeds.
GO-Science is a great environment to work in, with many learning and personal development opportunities such as workshops or the Civil Service Learning courses. Its small size (approximately 60 staff) makes it very friendly and welcoming and there is a strong intern network here.
It was an interesting time to work here, as the Chief Scientific Advisor is transitioning to become CEO of UK Research and Innovation, and the rest of the GO-Science organisation is also restructuring. This gave me a view of how dynamic Government needs to be to adapt to our fast-changing world.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at GO-Science, and would highly recommend this scheme to any PhD students as a great learning experience. If you are interested in it, the call for 2018 placements is open from 19 June to 10 August 2017.