Eleni enhances her career prospects with internship at the BecA-ILRI Hub, Kenya.
Eleni Vikeli, a 3rd year student at the JIC, has an interest in working on science communication projects and is particularly interested in international projects and worldwide communication of science. To gain experience in this area, Eleni undertook her PIPS at the BecA-ILRI Hub, Nairobi, Kenya from February to April 2017.
Eleni’s duties involved designing a module on science communication for diverse audiences, to be incorporated in workshops, as well as conducting training for current ABCF (The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund) research fellows on various aspects of science communication, such as use of social media and poster design. Eleni also gave support to the development of the ABCF alumni portal and undertook recording and reporting (blog articles, news stories and photography) from workshops conducted under the BecA-JIC partnership. “I particularly enjoyed the fact that I organised my own workshop on ‘How to present effectively’”, reflects Eleni. “I enjoyed connecting with many different people from different backgrounds and countries and that really gave me some perspective of the scientific world in Africa” she continues.
Eleni feels that she grew in confidence over the course of the internship as she organised the project herself and had the freedom to choose and organise her own activities. Through using her own ideas Eleni developed her knowledge, creativity and problem solving and she improved her organisational skills through her work organising various events and exhibitions and accommodating the visits of various scientists at the premises. Eleni’s internship was based on communication so this was another skill that she developed. “I had the chance to participate actively in various workshops with subjects like proposal writing, BBSRC-led Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture and an Impact workshop on a joint John Innes Centre-BecA grant application” says Eleni.
Valerian Aloo, one of Eleni’s hosts at BecA was also very positive about the internship. “Eleni has provided plenty of communication support to the BecA ILRI Hub through writing of articles for our website as well as for Twitter and other social network platforms. She has also been able to increase knowledge to the African researchers we are currently hosting at BecA through training in communication skills and presentation skills”.
Ethel Makila, the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Communications Officer and Eleni’s manager quoted:
‘’Eleni established herself as an asset to the BecA-ILRI Hub the week she landed by providing tremendous support in social media reporting for the BecA-JIC workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. Her enthusiasm and can-do attitude made it easy for her to learn and deliver on the tasks assigned to her. Particularly commendable was her long-term project of assessing communications needs of the ABCF fellows and developing a training to respond to them’’.
Eleni feels that the internship has brought benefits to her doctoral degree as well. She feels that she is more confident in conducting her PhD research and is more open to new ideas and activities, as well as being more confident interacting with different people and in different work situations. Furthermore Eleni has enhanced her employment prospects as a result of the internship. She feels she is better able to explore the job market and employer expectations, has enhanced her professional network and is more aware of career options outside of higher education.
Overall, Eleni found the internship a very positive experience that has benefited both her training and skills development as well as her research project. Eleni advises future PIPS students to choose an internship based on their interests and not something just convenient. She adds “Try to take advantage of this time away from research, to develop other skills and collect experiences. I strongly recommend visiting a different country, as you will a chance to meet a different culture and why not, a different language as well”.