My internship experience: developing my employability, furthering my academic studies and working to promote race equality

Recent LLB law graduate, Lottie Boateng-Kennett tells us more about undertaking an internship working as a Research Assistant at Research Action Coalition for Race Equality (RACE) at the end of her final year – opening up opportunities, experiences and the making of new friends in the sphere of understanding and tackling race and equality.

“I have literally never worked in such a nurturing, compassionate and refreshing space centred upon a commitment to race equality. Interning with RACE has been one huge lightbulb moment!”

Lottie Boateng-Kennett (right)

 

I saw the role advertised as part of the Bristol Model through the Professional Liaison Network, in the last few weeks of my Law LLB. Studying Law and Race, Immigration Law and framing my Final Year Research Project on the injustices suffered by the Windrush Generation lit a fire inside me. Born and raised in Bristol, I was empowered to contribute to tangible change within the race equality space and this role was the perfect opportunity to do so. Opening that email and applying was one of the best things I did the entire year.

The Role, The Team

I applied to intern with RACE because I had never seen a role like it. I’m not sure if that was because I wasn’t looking in the right place, or because I simply didn’t know that roles like this existed. I was so thrilled that in my interview, I said ‘I’m so excited’ maybe 50 times.

I worked with RACE as a Research Assistant. With my colleagues, Tobi and Morayo, I worked under the supervision of Angelique, Mina and Saffron and with other incredible members of the team – like Kat who took some time out of her busy schedule to provide us with some social media and communications training. If it’s one thing the RACE Team will do, it’s ensure you are equipped.

The Project

My primary role was on the Mapping element of the Project with Morayo, though tangential tasks arose incrementally throughout the Summer. It was very flexible and very self-driven. You take on as much as you can and have free reign to get involved in as much as you’d like. For example, whilst thinking through ideas one afternoon, we came up with #BSWhatDoYouThink? – a hashtag Black South West Network (BSWN) now uses to promote its debate platform. We were invited to live-tweet the RACE Launch Event. We worked on a video on Being Gen Z with BSWN. We were encouraged to write submissions, articles, think-pieces. Your ideas are truly valued here.

The Mapping Project was our little baby. In the early stages, it required rudimentary research into publicly available data. Once we had the foundations in place, it was time to start interviewing organisations. Morayo and I met so many incredible people, bodies and networks that do brilliant work. The main objective was to create a physical map, for both Bristol City Council and for RACE. I would never have imagined that I would be attached to a map. But I am. It’s our Summer’s work – and I think it’s fantastic. It’s the first of its kind: a map of the race equality space in the South-West. We did that!

Morayo, Melissa, Natalie and Lottie

I learnt –

I think one of my favourite things about interning with RACE was the insight to a world I didn’t know existed. It was especially interesting to gain this insight through the lens of data accessibility – something I’ve never considered before.

Interning with RACE has massively expanded my skillset. It’s nurtured my confidence. From evidence-based analysis, to summarising heaps of qualitative data. I’ve developed my own interview technique. I can finally navigate Excel beyond colour coding cells. I know that I can contribute to the change I want to see, even if it is just a little.

“I’ve built connections with some of the most incredible, most hard-working, relentless people I’ve ever met and I hope to have them for a very long time. If you’re committed to race equality, intrigued by the dimensions of data accessibility and up with working with the best bunch ever, I can’t recommend this internship enough.”

Further to my internship, I was put forward for extra opportunities. I was asked to host a book launch for ‘Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up’ from (Mariah-Carey-endorsed) The Black Girls Book Club, for Bloomsbury Publishers. I was invited to work for BSWN – RACE’s umbrella network – and had an excerpt of my Final Year Research Paper published in the Bristol Black History Magazine. Talking with co-authors Natalie and Melissa at Book Haus – Bristol’s newest bookshop opened by the profound David Olusoga – was a dream. It was so comforting to be surrounded by successful black women, yet paradoxically unnerving because it was a total first for me. We even sold out tickets! I love how the internship with RACE has not just ended, but that the relationships I cultivated during the Summer have turned into friendships, mentorships and other beautiful opportunities.

Find out more

Learn more about the study of law and race and what you can expect to cover in the Law School’s Law and Race unit by reading the 2021/22 unit catalogue.

The Bristol Model offers udergraduate students the opportunity to work as Research Assistants, to gain experience of academic research and apply your learning to real social and economic challenges. Working with leading academics and partner organisations you’ll make new connections and expand your professional network.

Applications are currently open for a Research Assistant role on the Research Action Coalition for Race Equality (RACE) projectdeadline 12 midday, 28 October 2021. The PLN will be recruiting for more Bristol Model Research Assistant roles between now and August 2022.

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