This year techspert.io launched an annual internship programme to encourage young people to pursue a career in STEM. In this blog post, Callum Macdonald – a third-year student at the University of Cambridge – sheds some light on his time at the tech company.
Hi, I’m Callum!
I’m a philosophy student who’s about to go into their third year at the University of Cambridge. Although I’m not doing a STEM degree, I’ve always been curious about what it’s like to work at a tech company, and fortunately being a STEM student isn’t a requirement for the techspert.io internship programme. I applied for an internship at techspert.io because I was interested in discovering more about artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how companies are applying these technologies.
This is me
A friendly environment
Prior to joining the team, I had no idea that expert networks – companies that connect organisations with experts – existed. But this didn’t matter. From the moment I joined, the learning began. I received a friendly welcome from the Account Management (AM) team and the company as a whole. To help me settle in, and ensure I receive support and guidance throughout my time here, I was appointed a mentor – Luke – who’s an analyst here. If ever I need a hand with anything he’s there to help. I quickly learned that this nature of helping each other out is a common theme at the company. So, if Luke isn’t around, I know that there’ll be someone else who can assist. The team is also incredibly friendly. People often have lunch together on the office balcony, go out for drinks after work, and monthly socials are organised.
Enjoying post-work bevvies with some of the team at a local pub.
What I do
As part of the AM team, I help connect organisations with experts. I do this using the AI technology, created by our data scientists, which trawls the internet to find key opinion leaders who match the client’s criteria. I’ve worked on a few projects so far but there’s one that stands out. A life sciences customer needed help finding an expert to assist them with their project on the manufacturing of AAV-mediated gene therapies. Before I could begin finding an expert, I needed to develop an understanding of this kind of therapy. From my understanding, it’s a new type of treatment that uses a virus to replace non-functional genes with functional ones. So, the functional gene is placed in a virus which acts as a type of capsule, it’s then injected into the patient’s target cell which has the non-functional gene, the introduction of the functional gene restores the cell.
How AAV-mediated gene therapy works
Using the AI technology, I found two experts who matched the client’s niche criteria. I was truly impressed by how powerful, rapid and smart the technology is. Although the client only asked for one expert, the profiles were so impressive that they decided to speak to two. Before coming on board, I had no idea that I’d be learning about AAV-mediated gene therapy and a host of other interesting fields that I didn’t even know existed. The opportunity to learn new things makes this internship engaging and enjoyable.
A start-up experience
One of the things that drew me to techspert.io is that it’s a start-up that’s growing quickly. I wanted to experience what it’s like to work in this kind of environment. Interning at a company that’s in its early stages has given me the opportunity to take ownership of different responsibilities, the freedom to share my ideas and to see some of my suggestions be incorporated. Knowing that your contributions are valued is highly encouraging. All interns are fully integrated into their teams and we’re not left to do grunt work. It’s also great to have Graham and Dave, the Co-Founders and Managing Directors, sit in the same space as everyone (it’s an open-plan office). They’re accessible and easy to talk to so if you’re facing any challenges that need their input, they’re there.
Why work at a desk when you can work on a bean bag?
No STEM degree? No problem.
If you’re thinking of applying for an internship at techspert.io, don’t hesitate. Also, don’t be put off if you’re not a STEM student. If you have a passion for technology and a desire to learn, you’ll fit right in.
If our internship programme sounds like a challenge you want to undertake, we'd love to hear from you.