Meet Findacure’s summer intern, Ikeoluwa Akintola – or Ike for short. Ike has been busy re-writing guides for our e-learning portal to improve their accessibility and flow, and she has written today’s blog about her experiences at Findacure HQ. We are very grateful for all of her support and wish her the best for her medical writing career!

Monday 9th July marked the start of my first internship. I had meticulously planned my journey the night before, ironed my smartest clothes and rehearsed saying, ‘Hello, pleased to meet you’, in the mirror. The next day, however, I was panicking on a crowded train to Cambridge, as the train came to yet another unscheduled halt at 9:58 AM.

By the time I arrived, I was convinced that I had already lost my internship, and was disconsolate as somebody came out to greet me.

Before I could even apologise, I was being cheerfully welcomed, and assured that there was no problem with my tardiness- ‘the trains are awful around here’, I was told. I was given a tour and introduced to the rest of the small but close-knit team of Findacure.

I had never heard of Findacure before I was offered my internship; my university placement officer sent me an email telling me that they had read and liked my CV, and were ready to accommodate me over the summer. I instantly agreed, still not knowing exactly what the charity was about.

Findacure’s office was extremely inviting, and I was given all the direction and facilities that I needed to perform the job to the best of my abilities. I wasn’t intimidated by the professionals I was meeting; in contrast, I was made to feel completely at ease upon entering the office, welcomed by a whiteboard covered in drawings of ‘typically British things’ (stick figures complaining about the weather) and frequent tea runs.

While Findacure is a friendly and jovial place to work, it is evident just how much effort goes into everything the charity does. I was invited to sit in a meeting on my first day and had no clue what was being said, members of the team speaking quickly and in unfamiliar codes. What I gathered at the end was: the last fundraiser had been a success, and they were planning another one soon.

As they were redesigning the website, my job to edit and rewrite learning courses for the charity’s e-learning portal seemed important. The Findacure team put no pressure on me, however, and it was insisted that I should complete as much work as I could over my three work internship, rather than trying to rush to finish.

But seeing the work that Findacure does, a charity I wasn’t aware of until they offered me an internship, prompted me to work as much as possible to provide the quality of work that the site, team, and people who suffer from rare diseases deserves.

I’ve jumped around in career choice since I was about twelve. I wanted to be a lawyer, stage actress, doctor, medical researcher and, most recently, a scientific writer. Findacure’s placement for me was exactly what I wanted: allowing me to write scientifically, and the placement simply solidified for me that it’s exactly what I want to do.

I was given as much freedom as I wanted for the learning guides I was writing. The trust put in me and my work was extremely comforting, and I was grateful to be allowed to be as creative and distinctive in my work as I wanted. However, I wasn’t completely left to my own devices; I had meetings to discuss the work I was doing, and was assured that I could ask questions whenever I was unsure or wanted advice.

Having the opportunity to learn not just about scientific writing skills, but also about rare diseases and charity work, two fields with which I am not particularly familiar with, was also remarkable. It has really awakened my interest in both fields, allowing me the chance to experience that which I hadn’t considered and broaden my avenues in the future.

Helping to rewrite these learning guides for the ePortal is a fulfilling experience; knowing that this editing will make all of the valuable information available from Findacure more accessible to everyone will allow more people to help to get involved in the imperative research that the charity helps to fund and coordinate.

There has always been a stereotype that one is either a scientific writer, or a humanities writing. Either your writing must be cold and sharp, or else flowing and poetic. I’ve always had trouble distinguishing the two when I attempt it myself; my scientific writing has never been clinical enough, but I never was able to meander in the way some other subjects require. However, this internship has further proven to me that there doesn’t need to be such a large division between the two. Attempting to present scientific information in an approachable way for the layman requires nuance which can only be achieved using certain language- language which relies less on scientific jargon and more on the diversity of the English language.

The first week and a half on my internship has gone even better than I initially thought it could. I was anxious to be travelling so far from home, to enter my first professional environment, but working with Findacure has greatly improved my confidence not only in working in the professional world, but in my scientific knowledge and writing skills.