Monday, May 28, 2012

Internship Spotlight: Ryan

Ryan has sent us an update from jolly old England where he is currently doing his internship at the Natural History Museum.  Check out what he has to say!

From Ryan:
At the end of my day at the Natural History Museum, I join the mass of visitors being ushered out of the halls and galleries onto Exhibition Rd in London. In the past five weeks I’ve seen some children who really, really do not want to go; stomping angrily, and sometimes wailing for ‘just a few more minutes’ with the dinosaurs and meteorites and other wonders.
Thinking ahead to the end of my internship, I hope I behave more respectably when returning my ID to security – but I make no promises.
I work with the museum’s Interpretation team, ‘responsible for the creative and content development of permanent and special exhibitions and public spaces.’ They’ve been great in making me feel at home, including me in department and institution meetings and involving me in a variety of projects from the start. So far I’ve helped develop a display on the recent discovery of two new UK plants, conducted summative evaluations with visitors to Scott’s Last Expedition (try saying ‘expedition exhibition’ five times fast…), and contributed story and guest speaker ideas for a podcast series that will feature artefacts from a new permanent museum gallery. I will continue with this work in the coming weeks, and will start researching images on extinctions (cheery stuff), and developing text for a graphic redesign of the Darwin Centre.
The team has helped me make the most of my time in London, science communication-wise. They encouraged me to go to this year’s Museums & Heritage Show at Earl’s Court – a huge conference for the museum sector, with some interesting talks on exhibit design and new technologies – and have included me in their professional development seminars. As well, we discuss any museum/science centre exhibitions or events we’ve been to recently from an interpretation/visitor engagement perspective at weekly catch-up meetings.   
In short, I am learning a lot, and applying a lot of what I learned in Science Communication.  From evaluation techniques to learning theories to exhibit design to media to effective science storytelling, I find I’m using some theory, tip, or trick from one of our classes every day. It’s easy to feel a bit intimidated at an institution like this, but I feel the program has given me the tools needed to make meaningful contributions here.
It’s pretty easy to draw inspiration for communicating science walking past giant plesiosaurs and samples collected by Darwin on the way to your next meeting. But I’ll admit – nothing’s displayed with quite the same flair as Sudbury Arena’s wolf.
Looking forward to seeing everyone back in Sudbury, once I’ve been forcibly removed from the building.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Internship Spotlight: Ellen

Ellen sent us an update from Alternatives Journal in Waterloo, where she's doing her internship...

From Ellen:

    Four weeks ago, I started interning at Alternatives Journal, and so far I’ve found it a great fit given my wide-ranging interests.

    Based in Kitchener, Ontario, Alternatives is Canada’s oldest environmental magazine. Because the Alternatives team is a small one, each person – including me - is responsible for a range of tasks. In my short time here I have fact checked articles, taken subscriptions, written a short article, and other miscellaneous tasks. The bulk of my time, though, has been spent on this year’s edition of Alternatives’ annual Environmental Education Directory: a guide to Canadian universities for prospective undergraduate students.

    Having earned a biology degree and spent most of my career cleaning up after animals, working at a magazine is a big change. Fortunately some aspects of my background are also useful here.  Environment-focused courses and jobs have familiarized me with many of  the topics covered in the magazine. Also, my experience with university environmental programs and student organizations helps me when I’m interviewing faculty, staff, and students for the education directory: I know what information will interest the kind of student who reads Alternatives, so I know what questions to ask. My research skills are getting a workout, too!

    One part of the Science Communication program that has proven particularly useful is the Mass Media section on interviews. Even though my interviews are very informal and not recorded for the world to see or hear, it is still helpful to have had some experience writing good questions and guiding interviewees through the process. The journalism guest lectures and workshops also provided valuable insight into the world of science writing for a non-specialist audience.

    The friendly staff at Alternatives have made me feel at home my first month. Now I’m looking forward to whatever the next one has in store!

Internship Spotlight: Courtney

Courtney sent us an update from SCRIPT Medical Communications where she's doing her internship, see what she has to say!

From Courtney:

     My first few weeks at SCRIPT have been very interesting and eye-opening.  Coming right from university as a Biology major with no industry experience, I had always suspected that my idea of the business world was very naive.  Unfortunately, ‘green’ doesn’t even begin to describe my notions of the medical communications/marketing industry.  Thank goodness for terms like ‘5-alpha-reductase inhibitors’ or I would be completely lost in translation!  Needless to say, my science background has come in very handy here at SCRIPT.  I always took a personal interest in the health sciences, and that was very much reflected in my choice of courses such as Human Anatomy, Physiology, Behavioural Neuroscience, Virology, Metabolism, and Biochemistry to name a few.  From referencing and researching skills gained through producing laboratory reports to the understanding of specialized chemical and biological terms and processes I have studied, the skill set and knowledge I gained in my undergraduate studies in science are what allow me to not only understand the projects I work on, but also to make meaningful contributions.

     That said, it is definitely my Science Communication skills that have really helped me stay afloat and be more confident in communications areas.  One of the first projects I worked on at my internship has been helping prepare a power point slide deck for health care industry conference, so all that practice with power point in Live Presentations really helped.  Even when I thought I would never be asked to edit anything, the fourth week I was asked if I knew how to edit audio clips.  Why yes, yes I do – thank you Mass Media podcasts.  Finally, I was asked to help source a bunch of images. I would never even have known what that entailed if it wasn’t for Mass Media or Exhibits projects.  The other practical skills we learned like writing and preparing research briefs did help when I was asked to do a little informal research to help some of the staff prepare for a meeting.  I really feel that the SciComm Program did a very good job of helping me develop relevant tools that help me fit into the industry and organizations like SCRIPT.  I rarely go a day at my internship without thinking “Oh, I learned that in SciComm!” Seriously.

     I am enjoying my internship and I have been given so many exciting opportunities by the very accommodating staff.  I have been given the chance to test the waters in the wide range of the work that SCRIPT does, including both the pharmaceutical marketing and the medical writing side.  I was able to attend a market research session which was really interesting and fun – not quite up to Mad Men infamy but very enjoyable none the less!  I have also been able to take part in training sessions the company provides to their science writers.  The first discussion we had was about getting out of the habit of writing in the passive voice, a lesson we learned very early in SciCom.  When I have been able to work on slide decks for some of the projects at SCRIPT, the only thing I have found difficult is the process of accommodating so many people’s interests.  Taking very much a Naked Presenter approach to most of my presentations (or attempted to anyway), it is a whole different ball game when you are faced with information that your client insists is included, your designer encourages you to rearrange or change, media which is under various levels of copyright protection, plus your own person and company standards that must be met.  It’s very difficult, and sometimes the process becomes tedious when phone or email correspondence goes off the radar.  But these are the experiences I feel are probably the most important for me personally.  These are the lessons that if I learn well now, will really give me a competitive edge in my career and put me further ahead of some of my peers in the industry.

     As you can tell, everything is going well for me and I am really looking forward to what comes next at SCRIPT!          

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Internship Spolight: Chantelle

Chantelle is working with Let's Talk Science in London, Ontario.  She is one of three Science Communication students (and alumni!) working there.  Keep reading to find out more about her first few weeks...

Holly Baker (class of 2010), Susie Taylor (class of 2011) and Chantelle Lafleur (class of 2012) at Let's Talk Science.
From Chantelle:

             For the past few weeks I have been interning for the Outreach team at the Let’s Talk Science national office in London, ON. My main role is to support the Outreach team with a number of projects that they have on the go and to assist with other Let’s Talk Science team members as well. My first couple of weeks interning here were very busy as Let’s Talk Science is preparing for the All Science Challenge - a fun filled questioning and answering day where grade 6, 7 and 8 students are tested on their science knowledge. This event is happening at 22 universities across Canada this year, and much preparation has gone into making sure that these events are a huge success.
        My role in all of this preparation was to create a media release template for the sites to use to generate a media alert about their event for their local media. Along with this template, I also wrote specific media alerts for a few of the sites that had interesting components involved and a general press release that would be available for press at all of the sites. I am also responsible for tracking all the media attention that the All Science Challenge brings.
         I have also been writing a number of web stories for the national Let’s Talk Science website. These stories describe different events that Let’s Talk Science is holding or different volunteers that Let’s Talk Science wishes to recognize. I have also partnered with a few members of the Outreach team to brainstorm new ideas to enhance an activities database. This database is designed to allow volunteers to upload activities that they present so that other volunteers can find new activities to present themselves. I have been working on creating a new method to organize this database so that volunteers will be able to find a specific activity much more easily. Lastly, the Outreach team has been working on creating a new Outreach Operations Video Manual for all of the coordinators at their sites. I am helping this process by editing video, voice-overs and a powerpoint slideshow together to create the final product.
        My first two weeks at Let’s Talk Science have been great. Every project that is begun at Let’s Talk Science is done so with the goal that it will increase science literacy in children, and the staff all work together as one large team to ensure that each task is completed. Each staff member is very friendly and helpful, and have made me feel very welcome during my time there. I am looking forward to what comes in the upcoming weeks!