Professional development and practical experience to complement their education and academic development are essential to LSE students preparing for careers in a post-COVID world. Gifts from alumni and friends are helping the School’s efforts to support and create opportunities, by funding undergraduate research assistantships and internships this year.
The research assistantships, available across LSE departments, centres and institutes, are valuable ways for undergraduates to collaborate with a staff member in their research, gain experience of working on a project, and potentially enhance their career prospects by deepening their experience. The internship programme funds selected students on internships with small- to medium-sized enterprises, and enables them to attend a careers seminar or a one-to-one appointment with an LSE Careers Consultant.
Professor Karen E Smith, Head of the Department of International Relations, said, “Our undergraduate research assistantship programme is one of our flagship professional development schemes. Now in its third year, the programme is incredibly popular, both with students who want to get involved with cutting-edge research, and with faculty who recognise the invaluable contribution our students can make to their research. We are also pleased to be able to offer our Internship programme which gives students the opportunity to undertake an internship that would be otherwise unpaid and therefore might not be feasible to do.”
“We would be delighted to be able to offer these opportunities to more of our students,” she continued.
Colin Vanelli (BSc International Relations, 2021) described a great opportunity to contribute to foundational scholarship in the power politics on climate change, through assisting on research for Dr Robert Falkner.
“I learned a lot about the rigour and precision behind the scholarship, the breadth given to contributors to develop their ideas, and the organic process by which conceptual frameworks and real-world examples inform and underpin each other,” he said.
The benefit of these learning experiences continues after students graduate from LSE. The US Centre’s programme has offered over 20 research assistantships in the last four years. Christina Ivey (BSc Politics and International Relations, 2020), a research assistant in 2018, is currently Chief People Officer for the Caribbean Policy Institute (CAPRI), where she assists researchers and coordinates the institute’s communication strategy.
“Having a paid opportunity to develop my research skills whilst an undergraduate student really set me apart in the graduate job market,” she said of the assistantship. “Being able to quickly sift through and condense large amounts of information has helped me greatly at my job, from writing press releases to finding papers for researchers.”