Research Assistant with the Centre for Irish and European Studies (CIES) 2014-2015
Research Assistant with the Centre for Innovative Human System (CIHS), School of Psychology, TCD, The University of Dublin, 2015-Present.
I currently work as a research assistant with the Centre for Innovative Human Systems, in the School of Psychology at TCD, the University of Dublin. My main work is on a European funded Horizon 2020 project on crisis management, RESILENS. The project is researching, specifically, the resilience of Critical Infrastructure (CI) organisations, in the transport, water and energy sectors, in relation to natural and manmade threats. My area of the research deals with human factors in sociotechnical systems. This involves developing an indepth understanding of how CI organisations currently prepare and respond to threats, looking at the different roles, responsibilities, relationships, tools, skills and resources involved. These practices are then framed in terms of the research outputs the project is developing and how those outputs can help increase the resilience capacities of CI organisations. Our role in the project is to ensure that the everyday, operational practices of users are accounted for, which can often be overlooked when considering the project outputs in decontextualised, abstract descriptions of use.
My job provides me with the opportunity to work with a broad range of stakeholders who come from entirely different backgrounds to me. One of the most rewarding, and, at the same time challenging, aspects of this is dealing with how we all bring different assumptions and interpretations to the ways we view our research problems and what kinds of solutions we should develop to resolve them. Learning to understand those differences and finding ways to negotiate through them, with varying levels of success, means that everyday brings an opportunity to see things I would often take for granted in a whole new way, while also getting to share with others how I see things, and, maybe changing their view of the world in some small ways too.
I was recommended by my previous employer.
Find something you love to work on.
Engage with your lecturers, they are the gate between university life and employment.
It's not always fun and excitement, all jobs involve boring things that just have to be done.
Be honest about what you can and cannot do.
Enthusiasm and dedication will go a long way.
Specifically to women. I work in a VERY male dominated field and there are two challenges you will always face - 1) learning how to dress appropriately, trying to find a balance between not looking like a student, without looking overly formal is so hard, don't underestimate the importance of this, find a look you feel comfortable in 2) So often you will be spoken over, not listened to, not taken seriously or the opposite, seen as too aggressive or brash. Finding ways to deal with this is a continuous struggle, but here are a few suggestions, know your work inside out, don't be afraid to admit to what you don't know, learn your audience, pick your battles, there will be lots of them so don't waste energy on the small ones.
I was very fortunate to have two extremely influential and supportive mentors, one male, one female, who still coach me through many of these issues. There is no overestimating the value of developing relationships with people working in your chosen field, learn from them.