Today is Thursday and nearly the end of my placement!
I wake up at 8am, get ready and hurry to the tube station. I get a seat on the slightly crowded Circle Line train – a small victory which gives me the opportunity to read my book, White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
I get out of the tube at Euston square surrounded by other commuters, and I am immediately transported into the skyscraper-filled street that is Euston Road.
Every time I enter the Gibbs Building next to the Wellcome Collection building I am always filled with awe. I stare at the slanted ceiling and watch the rain fall off the side of the building like a glass waterfall.
I enter the lift and press number 6. At the 6th floor, I walk to my desk dreaming about a HEJ coffee (which you can get from the coffee cart on the 5th floor). I drop my things and quickly run downstairs to get my favourite decaf caramel latte and the day begins.
I work for DARE UK – a programme funded by UK Research and innovation (UKRI) to design and deliver a more coordinated national data research infrastructure for the UK.
DARE UK launches a programme of sprint projects to develop potential use cases and test early thinking around the governance, ethics and technical feasibility required to deliver a UK-wide data analytics research infrastructure. It is one of these sprint projects that I am working on.
Today, the whole team is in the office so we have our daily catchup in one of the bookable rooms where the agenda and documents are projected onto the screen and the meeting can be easily followed.
Shortly after I have another meeting this time online with one of the project leads to discuss a project I am evaluating. One of the silent pods in the office is free so the meeting proceeds with no distractions in my own private space. I ask the project lead a series of questions and I am thoroughly interested in their work on trusted research environments.
Afterwards, I take a moment to reflect on my work with DARE UK and how I have met so many different people from different backgrounds while managing this project.
Also, how I have learnt a lot about Trusted Research Environments (TREs) and the importance of the centralisation of data. Furthermore, I have discovered so much about the importance of ethical data sharing and how much it can impact the global community.
Lunch time rolls around very quickly. Soon, the team and I head down to the restaurant on the 5th floor.
As we arrive, I start to hear the buzzing sound of life, the restaurant is vibrant with people deep in discussion. I stand in the queue for food staring out at the impressive view of London, pointing out all my favourite landmarks. I finally get to the top of the queue, and I opt for the vegan salad bar filling my plate with sweet potato, falafel, chickpeas, hummus and broccoli all for £3.80. We sit together chatting for an hour about the climate, our weekends, the future and then take the lift back upstairs to begin working again.
I sit at my desk with my laptop screen projected onto the desktop screen at my desk, making notes on my meetings, and attempting to book more meetings with the remaining teams. At 3:30pm I go to fill up my water bottle at the cold drinking water tap and decide that I need a little snack. I take the lift to the ground floor, where there is another cafe, I pick up a famous ‘Wellcome collection cookie’ and I am told that there is a ‘Buy 1, get 2 free’ deal.
I go back upstairs with 3 large cookies so I offer one to the lady working on the desk next to me. We start having a conversation and I find out that she was part of the team of people who designed my course, Arts and Sciences at UCL. It was such a crazy coincidence that gets me thinking about the Butterfly Effect; “What if I hadn’t chosen that desk”, “What if I didn’t buy cookies” and most importantly “What if I wasn’t interning with DARE UK”. It was so inspiring to meet someone who played a part in designing my course.
At HDR everyone is so unique with completely different experiences and perspectives on life, and it is so enriching to be able to have conversations and work alongside them. After that, my day soon comes to a close and I journey back home ready to do it all again – for my last day!
My journey from third year medical student to computer programmer
28 September 2023
Elise Uzokwe shares her journey from medical student to coder as part of the 2023 Health Data Science Black Internship Programme.