Hello! I am Simon Yesho. I will be working as a research intern with L-IFT for the Financial and Energy Diaries Research Uganda (FEDU). For this blog, I will provide a brief description of my background and motivation for taking up the internship. In subsequent blogs, I will document my field experiences, respondent’s cases, and field researcher’s stories.
I was born in a small village in Kapchorwa, a district in eastern Uganda that coincidentally is near the geographical scope of my current internship assignment. I at times consider myself a ‘nomad’. I have lived most of my life in different parts of the country. In 2011, I moved to Gulu to study a bachelor’s degree in computer science. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I had a short stint working in two IT firms in Kampala as a technical and customer relations staff. Though I initially enjoyed my job due to its challenging nature and felt what I was doing was meaningful, with time I began to grapple with a nagging question. “is this what I want to do for the rest of my life” and the answer was a firm “no”. I, therefore, made a decision to further my education, I applied and was awarded a scholarship in 2014 to pursue a master’s of science degree at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute. It was during my graduate education that I made a critical self-discovery. Research was an area I was passionate about.
My plan after graduating in June of this year was to continue with my education towards a doctorate degree, researching technology and its role in development. However, I wasn’t keen on doing so immediately and therefore needed a brief interlude from the academic and further develop skills relevant for my future research career. One day, whilst surfing on the internet, I came across an advert for interns by L-IFT sent an application and in the words of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa: “Here I am, where I ought to be”.
Why an internship at L-IFT? I decided to join L-IFT as an intern because I wanted the experience of working for an organization that would provide me with unique transferable skills, something challenging and simultaneously fulfilling, where I could have a significant social impact. So far, I consider interning at L-IFT as having been an extremely positive decision. The use of diaries methodology is one of the unique aspects of projects implemented by L-IFT which was an instantaneous attraction to me. It was a totally new approach to the more traditional methodologies of research that I had previously studied and used, I felt I needed to understand how the methodology is applied in a real-life project. The internship provides me with a perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience and new skills in field research, especially within the area of primary data collection which I still have gaps in. I felt the internship would provide the perfect bridge between my graduate education and a long-term career in research.
Reading through the research objectives of the FEDU project and by extension L-IFT, it wasn’t hard to find a convergence between my interests, aspirations, and the project activities. Being a research intern at L-IFT means obtaining first-hand experience in research implementation. The internship will thus provide a perfect opportunity to make professional contacts.
During my internship, I will be working with the field researchers providing support during data collection, especially regarding the quality of data collected for the project, and documenting the project through photos, publications, case studies of some respondents, and blogs amongst other responsibilities.
Would I recommend the internship? Absolutely yes! I would recommend the internship to anyone interested. In case you’re thinking of starting or already enrolled for a master’s degree within the themes related to the FEDU project i.e. financial behavior and energy use in low-income settings or are interested in getting international experience and exposure, the internship provides immense opportunities including providing a basis for a potential master’s thesis project or academic publication.
From my experience, the internship has been exceptionally impressive and with lots of memorable moments. The extensive field strolls, sweltering tropical heat, at times heavy rains, great respondents, and L-IFT researchers all combine to make the field experience one you can’t easily forget. You will be challenged, inspired, and motivated during the internship assignment. And equally critically, the internship provides valuable international exposure and unique diversity staying in Uganda. The skills gained coupled with the professional networks make the internship a worthwhile experience.