Name: Dr Abi Perrin
Institution: The Crick Institute
Connection to the Academy: Past MRC intern
When were you an intern?
What are you doing now – what has happened for you since you left?
I finished my PhD (yaaay!) and have moved to London to continue working on malaria as a post-doc at the Crick Institute.
What made you apply to the scheme, originally?
I was interested in science policy, and I was also really aware that almost all of my ‘professional’ experience was in the lab; I was keen to get a taste of working, still within science, in a different environment.
Strangely enough, the application process itself was quite part of the attraction. The opportunity to apply provided me with the motivation to write an article about a current science policy issue, and I actually really enjoyed researching and writing it. My interviewers were very welcoming and I felt like we had some good conversations!
What did you work on at the Academy?
I got deeply involved in understanding the inner workings of NHS medical data policy, something that never in a million years would I have expected to get so obsessed with! One highlight was when I went to a breakfast meeting in the House of Commons and got very excited about the fancy coffee cups (they had gold rims!)
How did you find the experience, overall?
It was a great experience, and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to research and present projects from different policy areas. I was out of my comfort zone some of the time, as I’ve never felt particularly confident in the way I communicate, but I always felt supported by my colleagues and this experience helped me confront some of those difficulties.
Did the internship give you any skills or knowledge that you used after you’d left?
I left the internship with much more confidence in my skills as a researcher and a communicator. Unexpectedly, the internship helped me overcome a decade-long fear of talking on the phone to people I’ve never met – I am incredibly grateful for this. I was surprised to find how often the policy issues I worked on come up both in my job and in everyday life, and it’s nice to be able to talk about them with a little more insight.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of applying/doing the internship, or something similar?
Don’t be afraid that your skills aren’t up to the job – for me it was a great opportunity to learn
Do you have any other career development tips, or advice, for the field you’re currently in?
Don’t blame yourself for the decisions malaria makes (niche advice, but probably applicable to your microscopic organism of choice!)