Two participants from the 10,000 Black Interns programme speak about their time working at the Health Economics Unit during 2022.
Students Aderayo Onipede and Victor Eze-Ukaegbu spent the summer working in the Health Economics Unit (HEU) as part of the 10,000 Black Interns programme. The programme provides black students and graduates with paid internships at more than 700 participating companies across a range of sectors. Aderayo and Victor here share their experiences of the invaluable insight into health economics they have gained, as well as details of the support and mentorship they received.
Aderayo Onipede had completed the first year of a biology degree at the University of Southampton when she started her eight-week role as a health evaluation analyst intern this summer, working for the HEU. The 19-year-old heard about the 10,000 Black Interns programme through her sister and thought it would give her experience to help with choosing a career when she graduates.
One of the three areas of interest she selected when applying to the programme was health data research. She was given an interview with Health Data Research UK (HDR) and was placed with the HEU.
Over eight weeks, she spent four weeks each working with the analytics and economist teams, supporting them with projects and giving presentations.
“My role was supporting health engineers and data economists,” Aderayo said. “On the analytics side I learnt different coding languages, such as how SQL works and how engineers and analysts use it to create models to give to their clients. Then I worked on a particular project for GambleAware, looking at how the organisation can better help people in need of treatment.”
When Aderayo later supported the economist team, she worked on the GambleAware project again, this time learning skills to collate and organise data.
Mentorship and support was so encouraging
Aderayo said mentors Rayne Wang, Joseph Lillington and Lisa Cummins could not have been more welcoming, and said she believed she had made great connections to help her going forward. “One piece of really great advice I got was that learning how you’re going to do the job on a daily basis is what matters,” she said. “And that is what you should use to inform your decisions and life. That is truly what I have learned and it will help me going forward with looking for jobs. It’s opened my eyes to a different aspect of what my degree could be used for. Before I started the interview process, I hadn’t even heard of a health economist, so it has definitely broadened my horizons and given me other avenues to consider.”
She explained being part of 10,000 Black Interns had been very encouraging. “It’s my first experience of a 9 to 5 job and it was great knowing it was catered towards me,” she said. “I have had Zoom calls and webinars to help inform my career choices, but we also talked about how to get over the fear of being somebody with a more foreign name, and how to get over the imposter syndrome. It’s definitely been really helpful and it’s boosted my confidence a lot. Coming into this organisation, where they were so encouraging, welcoming, and supportive of me has been super helpful.
“Through my time at HEU I’ve learnt that changing and benefitting people’s lives is not limited to doctors and nurses. I can walk away knowing that the work I’ve done these past two months is going to shape the way people react to and receive healthcare, and I couldn’t be prouder of that.”
Work experience relevant for graduates
Victor Eze-Ukaegbu, 20, is half-way through a four-year biochemistry degree at the University of Oxford.
He said having the internship opportunity was important to him as he wanted to get work experience that would be relevant as a graduate. He heard about 10,000 Black Interns on a university forum, applied to HDR and was placed at the HEU with Aderayo.
Also spending eight weeks on his placement, again with four weeks each in the analytics and economists teams, he said he found the real-world experience, particularly working with clients, to be invaluable.
Important for diversity and inclusion
“I feel like programmes like this are quite important especially for diversity and inclusion,” he said. “It helps people like me who are from ethnic minority backgrounds to understand that we have opportunities to be in healthcare like this, and it makes it feel a lot more welcoming.
“It was quite meaningful to me. It felt like I was part of something bigger that gives people from my background, who might not otherwise have the opportunities, the possibility to learn about things that, for example, my parents would not have been able to.”
Victor worked closely with Rayne and Joseph as well as Anna Buylova and Heather Humphreys and said having such effective mentorship made him feel like he had gained great contacts for the future.
He added: “This has helped me and given me a much stronger understanding of where I am compared to where I was before this opportunity. I didn’t really understand what healthcare analysts did or what the job entailed, but now I feel like I have a much stronger understanding. It has given me much more confidence in going forward and picking a career.
“Just having the ability to be part of this programme and being able to have my name put forward to organisations like this is something that was very, very helpful.”
Benefits to the HEU
The programme was not just beneficial to Aderayo and Victor as participants, it had a wider-reaching impact for the HEU and its staff as a whole.
Tim Shaw, the HEU’s deputy head of strategy, says the programme was a natural fit for the HEU because the essence of what we do is collaborative working. He also highlights the importance of investing in our community. The unit already does a lot of work to upskill the NHS analytical community, and the partnership with 10,000 Black Interns is part of attracting and preparing the analysts of tomorrow.
“We put diversity, equality and inclusion at the heart of everything we do and so we were particularly interested in the programme to raise the profile of health economics and analytics and provide opportunities to a wide range of groups,” Tim adds.
“We found Aderayo and Victor’s fresh perspectives on problems very helpful. They quickly became important members of the team as they were keen and made important contributions to our work. It also gave opportunities to our existing team to gain experience in recruitment, mentorship and management.
“It was the first time we’ve done the programme and we would highly recommend it to other teams and organisations.”
The application deadline for the next 10,000 Black Interns Programme is 13 November 2022. Find out more and apply.