Like many of those who have taken part in the HDR UK Black Internship Programme Ben Pitter-Fagan is both talented and highly self-motivated.

His interviewers for a 2021 internship at the University of Cambridge Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit, were impressed that he had written articles where he had used Python to analyse real-world data.

Ben, from London, has an Meng Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, then after that he trained and worked as a supply maths teacher, while he planned his long-term future.

After getting interested in computing and signing up for Codecademy, he took an online data science and machine learning course online with Columbia University.

Experiences like these made Ben realise that he loved working with data and he started exploring ways to make it central to his career.

This was where the HDR UK Black Internship Programme came in.

After being offered the internship at the University of Cambridge, which involved carrying out a project looking at lipids and genetic traits among different ethnicities, he further demonstrated his personal drive by teaching himself the coding language R.

The internship itself was a hugely positive experience. Ben not only enjoyed his research project, but felt he benefited from the regular talks by people from other research organisations and carrying out a team project with other members of his cohort.

Ben said: “It was good work experience and it’s been a really useful stepping stone. It was my first role in data, so that was something good to put on my CV and it definitely helped me going forward.”

The internship helped him to secure a role with a company called Cognizant, where he currently makes use of his expertise in Microsoft Power BI to help its clients.

PowerBI is a programme that Ben taught himself how to use during the lockdown, attending webinars weekly, practicing what he’d learnt and exploring the programme further.

The first project that he was sub-contracted to via Cognizant, was with Sensyne Health, but more recently, Ben has been involved with major pieces of work for HMRC.

Now established in his new career, Ben says: “In terms of the future, my aim is to continue on the path I’m on now. I’d like to develop more experience in what I’m doing, learn more, apply it to other areas and in a variety of industries.”

Ben is also a member of the HDR UK Alumni Community, which brings together people who have taken part in courses or other training initiatives associated with the Institute.