My internship experience: Being an Online Conference Content Creator at Open Lab for PDC2022
Wednesday, 16 November 2022
Paulina Jacyna talks about her experience doing an internship with Open Lab for the PDC conference held in August 2022.
In my third and final year at Newcastle University I had a great opportunity to work as a paid intern for Open Lab in the School of Computing. Between June and September 2022, my role was preparing for and then publishing online content for the Participatory Design Conference 2022. As an international business student, who had not done a full-length internship before, this was an entirely new, exciting and sometimes challenging experience for me. In this blog post, I will share some ‘behind the scenes’ insights from my internship.
Why did you apply for this role?
What caught my eye was the title of the role which made me interested to find out more about it. As I already had some experience from roles involving content creation throughout and before university, it made me think that I could potentially be a good fit. What additionally sparked my interest was the conference format, which I had never tackled before, as well as the academic world of participatory design.
I was based in the Business School for my whole university journey, so this role presented an entry point to an entirely new world for me. It was an exciting challenge, since it offered an opportunity to combine some of the skills that I developed in the past, but in an entirely new setting and taken to another level! On top of that, I was really excited to be able to use my creativity in this role. I am a very visual and imaginative person and I didn’t feel like I had much opportunity to express that quality in previous jobs.
And lastly, the area of participatory design, largely focuses on serving and considering all stakeholders involved in a service or product. This felt really close to me as my dissertation research was about sustainable entrepreneurship, looking at business activities through the lens of different actors involved. Just like in participatory design, I explored how we can use these different perspectives of stakeholders to create a better world and society.
What kinds of things were you working on in your role? Was there anything in particular you enjoyed?
There were so many big and small jobs that I had a chance to do throughout the internship. I really liked it that way as it eliminated the mundanity of doing the same things and challenged me to be flexible. Some of the things that I have done include designing and creating video submission guidelines for the authors whose papers were accepted to the conference, also designing branded slides and templates for the conference sessions, as well as posters and a visual schedule for the in-person event in Newcastle. Additionally it involved a lot of administrative tasks such as setting up different pages and copying information into Notion that would later appear on the PDC website, setting up a PDC Youtube channel, collecting videos from the authors and uploading them onto Youtube, producing closed captions for the videos to aid accessibility, supporting language interpreters in Zoom, or sending out Outlook invites for the online events taking place throughout the conference.
I liked the fact that the role was very flexible and I could do it both from the office and home which gave me a sense of freedom and independence and allowed me to organise my day myself to a certain degree. One of the things that I enjoyed the most in this position was being able to see very tangible effects of my work - the designs that were later printed out, all the content that was collected and put into one place, which later created a whole library of resources.
I felt like I was contributing to something bigger and also learning so much along the way. From video and graphics editing software like Adobe InDesign or Premiere Pro, through project management tools like Notion or Miro, to perhaps even more important, soft skills. Good communication and problem-solving were some of the most important ones. Being able to ask for help if needed or clarify anything that I wasn’t sure about, and sometimes there were plenty of questions! At the same time, being resourceful and figuring things out on my own and finding solutions that would be the most efficient for the project. And lastly, not getting overwhelmed by all of this!
One of the things that really surprised me when working for the PDC2022 conference was that I have never in my life realised how much work and how many people work behind the scenes of organising something like this. Another level of challenge and complexity was the hybrid character of this year’s conference which meant not only was part of the conference set up in Newcastle, but also online in many countries all over the world with different time zones and sessions that would also take place simultaneously. Even though it took months (before I even started to work there) to plan out the schedule and all the logistics, there were times that something unexpected would come up in the process and some things had to be changed to adjust to the new situation. There was quite a lot of uncertainty that we had to figure out as we went along.
Was there anything that you learned about yourself?
I think that the internship helped me realise that I am more capable than I thought I was. There were a lot of little challenges that I had to overcome along the way and situations, where I didn’t perhaps feel so confident about the task - but eventually I managed to achieve set goals and get the issue resolved. It gave me a little boost of confidence when it comes to professional work. It also reassured me that I need to utilise my creativity and have a feeling that I’m actually creating something with my work to be fully satisfied with a job. Additionally, it also confirmed that I am not a big office person ;)!
I like having flexibility and some degree of autonomy in my work as only then I feel like I am the most productive and creative. And lastly, it made me realise how crucial having good, supportive management and a good team really is! That’s perhaps the most important element that made my internship so fulfilling and successful.
All of this has also contributed to me progressing towards my biggest dream and project of all - starting my own company, which I set up with my friend from university. Based on the things that I’ve learned about myself after the work for PDC2022, it’s giving me the satisfaction of building and creating, as well as the flexibility needed. I am able to actively implement the skills that I developed whilst working for the conference as well as the software (Miro is probably one of my favourites for visually planning out a strategy or project for my new digital marketing agency!). I feel like now, I am able to fully use my business education with some technical skills and experience gained from the tech world.
The Participatory Design Conference (PDC) takes place biannually. It is an important venue for international debate on the collaborative, social, and political dimensions of technology production and use. The Conference welcomes researchers and practitioners working on PD across multiple fields including; HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), CSCL (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning), ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development), Science and Technology Studies (STS), Social and Community Informatics, Development Studies, Media Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Design, Architecture, Spatial Planning, and Arts.
In 2022, the 17th Biennial PDC was hosted in the UK for the first time in Newcastle upon Tyne, at Open Lab, Newcastle University. Due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was also globally distributed, with provision of online participation and by establishing multiple PDC Places, smaller gatherings of PD researchers and practitioners in 16 different locations across the world. PDC2024 will be held at the University of Technology, Sarawak, Malaysia. To find out more go to https://schedule.pdc2022.org
Paulina’s internship was organised and funded through the JobsOC summer internship scheme at Newcastle University for the first month of employment. Her role was later funded through conference fees and Newcastle University’s Global Conference Fund with support from ACM SIGCHI’s Development Fund.
The JobsOC team within the Careers Service can provide funding for roles that offer graduate level work experience and a minimum of 60 hours of work. They can also provide support recruiting student workers, including advertising roles and setting assignments up on the payment app on behalf of departments. For more information about funding and the recruitment support they can offer, please visit the JobsOC webpage, or email email@example.com with any questions.