Oxford undergraduates, Jack and Aura spent a week with the Oxplore team (remotely); hear about how they found the experience…
“I’m Aura, a third year Human Sciences student at St John’s College. I’ve just finished a fantastic week working as a remote Content Development Intern for Oxplore.”
When I first encountered Oxplore when applying for this internship I was struck by how exciting and useful a resource it is. When applying to university I selected Human Sciences primarily because of its interdisciplinary nature. I loved the idea of thinking about issues facing humanity from a holistic perspective drawing on lots of approaches. The Oxplore website would have been invaluable to me before my university application process.
Over the past week I have created glossaries of complicated terms in the Big Questions ‘Do we see colour the same?’ and ‘Can Money Buy Happiness?’ I really enjoyed this task as it got me to think precisely about what certain terms like ‘objectivity’ mean. Examining concepts that I often take as given when writing an essay was both a stretching and satisfying intellectual endeavour.
I also produced a list-style article ‘Tales of an underwater world…’ for the ‘Should we put our Ocean first?’ Big Question. It was wonderful to delve back into my love of literature for this piece. I have always thought that literature can provide powerful insights into areas often delegated to “science”, such as the ocean. This task in particular reminded me of how much I relished my unusual combination of A level subjects: English literature, History and Biology. As much of the Oxplore website attests, these disciplines can go together much better than you might expect.
Along with a varied social media campaign, another piece of work I particularly enjoyed producing was a student reading list relating for the question ‘Can We End Poverty?’. Whilst I haven’t explicitly studied this topic in my degree, economic inequality seems to permeate many of the societal issues that I have grappled with. It was delightful to reflect on what made certain works on this topic so compelling and to share their merit with Oxplore’s readership.
Despite the challenges of this internship happening remotely, the Oxplore team made the virtual office environment a pleasure to work in. There was a general atmosphere of friendliness that made asking for help and feedback an ease. The regular communication and catch-ups each day really helped me feel like I was working as a part of team rather than on my own at home.
I hope that Oxplore’s reach continues to grow in the future. Now that more and more outreach events will have to move online, Oxplore is an even more important resource than ever. Getting people as young as age 11 to think about complex important ideas in a nuanced way is a stellar achievement. The young people engaging with the Big Questions will be primed for not only university study at a place like Oxford, but for doing good in the world afterwards.
“I’m Jack – a student of History and Economics at St Hilda’s College, just about to start my second year. Last week I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with the team at Oxplore as a Content Development Micro-Intern. I got to produce a whole range of content for social media and the Oxplore website, working in the are of access and outreach which I really care about”.
As someone who remembers attending an Oxplore outreach session at the Seren Network Conference in December 2017, I was excited to get to work with Oxplore and learn how they create their content on this micro-internship. After the long vacation away from the university, it was also a nice way to get back into thinking academically and researching. I learnt a lot about how to work remotely, and how so many people are still doing that even as schools and universities reopen.
I was really welcomed by the team at Oxplore, and they told me a lot about their own work as well as what I needed to be doing. Producing content for Oxplore is a really fun process, but at the same time a lot goes into it. I was really impressed by how content for the website is linked to areas where academics are doing interdisciplinary research, and how much the articles for Oxplore are informed by the thinking of academics.
In creating a set of social media posts to promote a future big question, I think I learnt a lot about how careful social media planning is to be aware of differences between platforms, target audiences and the context online. It was also quite a creative experience. Making glossaries and a reading list for existing big questions was probably the most fun activity, because I had to think about what would be suitable for pupils aged 11 to 18 and what I used to enjoy reading. Making a video of my response to a big question was a very different challenge, and something I am not really used to, but it was really fun to plan how to set it up and how to respond to the topic.
Over the course of the remote micro internship, I learnt lots about working remotely, like the importance of time away from the desk, of posture and of continuous communications. Given that university will be more remote next term and some of the working changes after coronavirus look like lasting a long time, this was all very useful to me. Although the remote micro internship worked very well, and much better that I expected, I still think I would have preferred to have worked in person this week were it not for coronavirus.