Interning at SAGE Ocean: My experience

This summer we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming four Masters students from UK universities to work with the SAGE Ocean team. We expected this to be quite an unusual experience for the students, because of our unique mission and the way we work within the wider organization.

SAGE Publishing is a content-driven business, established by Sara Miller McCune in the early 60s. So we’ve been around for a while. At SAGE Ocean, we still work a lot with social science researchers (like our authors), but we’re looking beyond content towards interesting trends in technologies, the tools and skills researchers need, and how the social science disciplines are changing. Working with us was both a continuation of their studies (yes, they had to read some papers and talk to some academics), and an application of the many skills they’ve acquired during their studies (both soft skills and tech skills, including market research, writing, copy editing, coding, automating, synthesizing and presenting). In working with social science and humanities researchers, they were also able to make use of subject-specific knowledge from their courses.

Cartoon rocket with starry sky background

All four students have been quite incredible, and despite only being with us for 2-3 weeks each, have managed to produce a variety of outputs and substantially contribute to our work. Shulin looked into the use of Weibo data in research and published a blog summarizing her findings. Lily built upon our review of tools and skills for working with social media data, ran an internal seminar on her findings, and published a summary blog. Jessica supported us with testing an idea for an interactive calendar to help students plan their dissertation, and also looked into the use of LinkedIn data to help with a blog I wrote on this topic. Eve used her technical skills to weed through an annotated dataset of journal articles that we’ll be using to understand the evolution of research methods (a project we are working on with NESTA). Among other things, she also reviewed our list of 400+ tools to find out how diverse the teams behind them are, culminating in a blog that highlights six tools developed by women.

I very much enjoyed working with all four students, and our team was impressed with their contributions. I believe they also found their experience useful, judging from the testimonials they share below.

Shulin Hu, Digital Humanities Master student, Department of Information Studies, UCL

Working with the SAGE Ocean team was an unforgettable and rewarding experience. They offered me lots of opportunities to learn. I was able to participate in their ongoing research and join meetings and day-to-day activities. My data analysis skills were greatly enhanced through working on my project and observing others, which has helped me get a head start in building a foundation for my future career.

Interning at a completely foreign company was a challenge at first, but during the process of stepping out of my comfort zone I gradually became more confident in my abilities and contribution. Also, with the kind help and encouragement of my line manager, I published my original research blog on the SAGE Ocean website.

I enjoyed being surrounded by smart, motivated colleagues who were always willing to teach and help me when I asked. Talking with staff from different departments every week, I absorbed a variety of ideas about product innovation and product management that were both useful and inspiring. Glad to be an intern at SAGE!

Lily Davies, Digital Humanities Master student, Department of Information Studies, UCL

The three week placement gave me a fantastic insight into project management and SAGE Ocean’s work. I saw the range of products offered by SAGE, including SAGE Campus and SAGE Journals, and got stuck in researching challenges faced by computational social scientists using social media data. Exploring this space led to a Market Opportunity Navigator session, in which we unpicked our research and assessed how these challenges could be solved. Even in a short internship, it was great to feel that the work I had done was useful to the SAGE Ocean team.

Beyond SAGE products, I learned from Jet Sanders who joined us for an in-house ‘Researcher in Residence’ day, and Chanuki Illushkia Seresinhe as part of the SAGE Ocean Speaker Series. I also had the opportunity to chat to colleagues in a variety of job roles, which was helpful for a grad making decisions about the next steps!

Jessica Green, Publishing Master student, City University

The two weeks I spent with SAGE have really helped to give me my first proper insight into the daily running of an academic publishing house. My Masters degree can only teach me so much; first hand experience is what I need, and I feel I got that with SAGE. I was able to meet a lot of new people and talk to them about their careers in the industry, and ask them for advice on the steps I take next as I complete my studies.

Everyone I met was really friendly and approachable, and I felt like they were genuinely interested in what I had to say. During my two weeks I was able to sit in on various department meetings and find out about current projects that are taking place. In a couple of these meetings I was asked my opinion on certain topics, which made me feel very welcomed. I was given small research projects of my own that were each part of something bigger within SAGE; it was great to feel that my short time with the team might actually help a few people out.

Overall I really enjoyed my time with SAGE, and loved meeting new people and finding out about their roles within the company. The environment was great and it definitely felt like a good place to begin a career in academic publishing.

Eve Kraicer, Computer Science & Gender Studies Master student, LSE

Working with the SAGE Ocean team I had the opportunity to think about academic research from a different angle. What types of platforms, tools and partnerships encourage robust research in computational social science? What barriers are there to publishing and research, and how can we encourage more diverse and representative practices for publishing? Through attending meetings and conferences, and conducting my own qualitative and quantitative analyses for SAGE Ocean, the internship allowed me to work through some of these questions. I gained a better understanding of what it means to support and create research where there is an increasing availability of digitized archives and big data for computational social science.

Thank you to all our interns! If you are a Master student at the intersection of social science or humanities with data and computer science, and would like to come and work with us for 2 weeks, get in touch!