My HDR UK Black Internship Programme experience in health data: Chrysie Alexiou
21 July 2022
We caught up with Chrysie Alexiou mid-way through her placement on the Black Internship Programme to find out if it's what she expected and what's she's learnt so far.
Hi there – I’m Chrysie Alexiou and I’ve just completed my second year in Neuroscience and Psychology at King’s College, London.
I’ve been learning more about the neuroscience of memory and developing the skills needed to become a child therapist with my final set of modules.
Good to meet you Chrysie! Which host organisation are you an intern with?
I’m an Intern at NIHR BioResource based at home with occasional trips into the Cambridge offices.
Did you have any expectations before you started?
I didn’t have any major expectations, as I didn’t want to get disappointed, but I was hoping I would come away from this internship with a better understanding of the day-to-day tasks of a researcher and how the work they do gets fed back to the public.
Has it lived up to that?
Oh yes – and I’ve learnt more about what it means to be a researcher – so, after the data has been collected and analysed I really need to consider my audience. So, I now find myself thinking…….how can I present this data so it’s meaningful to people who don’t know what a statistical measure is?
Sounds tricky! Who do you work with?
I work with professors and data analysts.
What’s it like where you work?
At the moment I am working from home – it’s a nice room with bright yellow walls!
Regarding our offices, we have two sites – one in London and one in Cambridge. I’ll soon be visiting the Cambridge one and will probably go in once or twice a week.
When I joined the team, they welcomed me as their junior data analyst, and I was thinking….Wow! Is this really me? I was so pleased they valued my role and contribution.
I’ve met some of the other interns from King’s College and over 20 colleagues from NIHR BioResource.
What are you currently working on?
We are gearing up to help develop a Participant Portal from the vast bank of health data including tissue and blood samples, and psychological and psychometric measures.
Once samples have been taken, we want participants to be able to see when and how their data is being used by researchers who come to the BioResource for samples like theirs.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy meeting new people because I often find it hard to network.
Since being in this role, I have met so many new people that I now feel much more confident in reaching out – for even just a brief conversation – with someone at a higher level than me.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned?
Probably the conversations around coding in research and how this has changed so much in the last 20 years.
Before my degree, I really hated coding but now I know two coding languages, R code and MatLab and I’m learning my third – Python.
When you have lots of singular data values such as in EEGs and MRI scans, coding allows you to process these data points at great speed, so knowing how to code has essentially become a must.
It’s great the way it can process information so quickly, so I’ve actually done a 360-degree turn on how I feel about coding – I pretty much love it now!
What’s your tip for future interns?
Have a “Yes! And…” attitude.
Say yes when the opportunity comes your way. Give it a go. If it’s not right, you can always walk away later.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’m extremely ambitious and get a lot of opportunities because of my mindset “Yes! And…”
Once I am in a role, I know I can say no or negotiate if I need to. I hope I can keep using this to bring about useful and insightful change with an open and receptive mind.
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