Over the summer we’ve continued the tradition of having some student interns working alongside us in the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL). After an incredibly competitive application process (there really were some excellent candidates this year!), Cleo, Taryn and Matt were successful in being awarded an intern placement. Here, Taryn and Matt reflect on their time working in BCL and adjusting to the world of work after completing their third year of study.
My internship – Taryn Davis
Over the past six weeks I have experienced my first taste of a real-life, make your Momma proud, kind of job. No more late nights mopping frozen daiquiri off the floor, I’m a Research Assistant (intern) now, Mum. From corpus-linguistics with James, to planning and publishing research for a new coursebook with Harriet, and even assisting with the hiring of a new linguistics lecturer – this internship has given me a wealth of experience to carry into the working world.
My first week kicked off with a zoom call from James. I was given three tasks – create a content schedule for the next year of UWE Lingo posts, write some of these posts, and help research the potentially increased links between Journalistic Aggressive Questioning and Covid-19 Death Rates. After ten minutes of back-and-forth, I closed my laptop and locked eyes with my Yorkshire Terrier across the room – “It’s just you and me now, boy.” “Woof” he said.
What struck me during the first week of my internship, was the independent and explorative nature of the role. Whilst those that I worked with were always on hand to answer any questions, it was my responsibility to get my head down and finish the assigned tasks. Time Management; Check. Independently Driven; Check. How you like me now LinkedIn Recruitment?
After finishing my first week with James, I started helping Harriet. My first task was to choose some final-year Creative Writing zines to be distributed to prospective students, and to write them some entertaining, yet informative letters. This is harder than one might imagine due to there not being a single student in England who wants to check their emails over Summer. My other task for Harriet, was to organise, plan, and draft the contents for a Creative Writing and The Self coursebook. As someone who is now applying for Editorial Assistant roles, I found this to an enjoyable task. I also got to spend some time researching publishers, and potential competition for the book, which provided me with even more of an insight into the editorial world.
Back to James now, only this time I’m analysing four years’ worth of National Student Survey data and using a Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis approach to determine linguistic patterns in student comment data. This was difficult, but interesting. Using the Corpus Linguistic software, AntConc, I was able to determine keywords which appeared more frequently in 2021 as opposed to other years, and then analyse these further to make some qualitative analysis in-roads. I’d love to share the results, but it’s confidential. And I haven’t finished it yet.
As of right now, whilst also writing this post and sipping a tea I can’t taste (thank you, Covid), I’m working with Grant on a sustainability focused project. Sustainability, however, is not purely environmentally focused, it also relates to culture and society, and in this case, the DUP’s dismissal of the Irish Language. I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth in to this final piece of research before my six-week internship comes to an end.
These past six weeks have provided an enjoyable, and varied experience. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and urge anyone who’s thinking about undertaking an internship (in the words of beloved Shia LeBouf), to “just do it”.
My internship – Matthew Currant
Whilst working as a BCL intern I assisted in two research projects. The first project was primarily sociolinguistic and related to language used by politicians during discussions on the Northern Ireland language policy. The second project was psycholinguistic in nature and was concerned with ambiguous language used in social interactions, and how it might affect people’s happiness.
The duties that I carried out during the internship were varied and included conducting literature searches, categorising (coding) data for analysis, creating draft literature reviews, sitting on a panel to assess candidates for a lecturing position, producing research materials, and helping to co-host an academic symposium.
The internship was beneficial because it allowed me to experience the role of an academic and gain insight into the duties that they undertake. As someone who is considering an academic career, this was especially important and allowed me to assess whether such a career would be right for me.
Additionally, the internship was intellectually stimulating and allowed me to learn about different linguistic areas. For instance, I spent a considerable time reading and extracting information from literature regarding the History of the Irish Language. I also attended an academic symposium that allowed me to learn about new linguistic research and to see how academics present and defend their work.
Finally, working with other lecturers who actively encouraged my ideas and feedback allowed me to make a genuine contribution to some linguistic research. As a linguistic student interested in language, contributing to research which might make new discoveries about language and its usage was highly satisfying and rewarding.
The internship was a very enriching experience and I highly encourage students to apply in the future!
So, to end, all the staff working in BCL would like to thank Cleo, Taryn and Matt for their hard work over the summer! We wish you all the best for your next adventure!