Rae Qiu’s Q-Step internship

Posted on September 9, 2019 by

Zehui (Rae) Qiu is a student in Linguistics and Social Anthropology, who spent this summer doing an internship with International Longevity Centre. This internship was organised and funded by Manchester Q-Step, and like other Q-Step internship, the focus is on giving students experience of data analysis in a professional context. Below is Rae’s own account of her internship experience.


The ILC is the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, and what happens next. It specializes in demographic research and engages with stakeholders across sectors. As a data analyst intern from the Q-Step program, I was lucky to be involved in multiple ongoing projects of the organization. This experience gave me a reasonably comprehensive and overarching idea of how research think tank works.

The main project I was working on is a project called ‘Longevity Dividend,’ which aims to estimates the size of the longevity economy in the United Kingdom and the economic opportunities of ageing. I was involved in the entire research process, from gathering and making inquiries of scattered data from regional stats websites, cleaning data sets, to analyzing and making projections for the next twenty years. The project touched upon different projection methods (e.g., ETS, year-by-year growth) and my supervisor guide me to consider their respective pros and cons. We did many adjustments in order to find the most suitable one and often shifted from one method to another, in order to compensate for the unreasonably fluctuating data from previous years. The result is very rewarding.

Besides this project, I also did many qualitative works, including reviewing the literature and drafting briefings. This side of the work is where I feel like my reading of academic papers in UoM paid off.

I am delighted with this placement. To begin with, it fits my initial expectation for the Q-Step internship, from which I gain a very grounded experience with processing a large quantity of data. If I ever decide to go into a more data-oriented direction in the future and somebody asks me why, I would feel more confident answering it than before, as I have been staring at 20+ spreadsheets for two months. Moreover, I gained a sense of fulfillment by knowing that the research project I helped matters in the sense that it has a marginal contribution. The nature of this organization also means that the research outcome could potentially translate into policymaking and bring changes, which motivates me a lot. Lastly, despite the occasional heat waves, the very random rains, the crowded rush-hour tubes, and the grumpy off-work white collars, London is an intriguing place to live in during the summer. As an international student, I find it quite amusing (and weirdly enjoyable) to have daily chitchat on London weather with my co-workers, the Friday celebratory drink in a fancy-ish bar, and a myriad of food choices on Deliveroo when my boss is paying the bill. On a more serious note, not only have I gained many transferable skills from my work, but talking with my boss and co-workers also provide me with many unique new perspectives on my plans for the future.