I found out about the Turing Institute internships through my PhD supervisor, who suggested that it would be a great way to get some experience of industry work. I’m currently working on a PhD at Imperial College, doing research in nuclear fusion and looking at how we can match the results of extremely sophisticated simulation with ‘real-life’ experimentation. Essentially, it’s a calibration problem. This is normally manually calculated, but I am looking at ways to automate the calibration to make it a much less time-consuming and expensive task.
While I was more than familiar with Accenture before applying for the internship, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the work that I would be doing. However, the experience was truly enriching, and everyone was very supportive from the very start.
When it came to making a choice about what I wanted to work on, I had real freedom to select something that I’d find interesting. A project came up addressing natural language processing, and I found that area fascinating. I worked with a business called Mudano, which is a fairly recent Accenture acquisition. They are specialists in data analysis and AI for the financial services industry, and I had the opportunity to work on how we can model specific business processes, such as a mortgage or credit card applications, in order to simulate the processes and identify where there might be flaws or bottlenecks. By finding those using simulations, it’s possible to fix them and achieve greater efficiencies and a better experience for customers.
Accenture is very much a learning organisation. People are willing to help you and point you in the direction of where you can find more information and support when you need it. For the projects I worked on, I needed to learn about new subjects, and my manager was always there to answer my questions and show me where I could find the resources that I needed to help me perform at my best. Accenture may be a huge global organisation, but it doesn’t feel like that ‘on the inside’. There is a real sense of community within the teams I was a part of. That was also encouraged in interactions with my fellow interns. Obviously, the pandemic meant working remotely but it was still possible to build relationships with my peers.
One of the biggest differences between my academic work and the internship at Accenture was the extent to which collaboration was required. While I learnt about technical areas that were new to me, I also picked up a lot of the soft skills that are going to be important in my career further down the line. Teamwork is one of those, but the experience of working on real projects also means that you need to manage your time effectively and make sure that you work with other people to ensure we meet project goals and deadlines.
For me, this break from my PhD was a fantastic opportunity to be engaged in something that is different to my academic work. It gave me great perspective on working in the industry and in a culture that is highly collaborative, fast-paced and open-minded.
Experiencing new things is really important for me. When I’m not working, I really enjoy getting out to live music events, visit exhibitions and so on. I’m a big fan of the opera in particular and try to get to Covent Garden once a month. It’s important to have passions at work and outside too!