Snowman cones and social media: HeRC through the eyes of a work experience student

Posted on February 13, 2019

Guest post by Eleanor Maher

A little over a year ago I wouldn’t have thought I would be writing tweets for the Centre for Health and Informatics (CHI) and attending launches of Manchester Health and Technology initiatives, but here I am, on work experience, working with some of the most dedicated and talented people. I am in Year 10 at a local high school, and even though I don’t know a thing about the new ‘wearable technology’, or how to log onto a computer without having to call IT services, I am having a lot more fun than I was expecting!

When people talk about their work experience, they talk about how they had to sit in a room all day and photocopy, but I am pleased to say that I have photocopied a grand total of… (Imagine a drumroll please…) Nothing!! Instead, I have been designing new tweets on Canva and even creating new events on the website, which is surprisingly harder than it looks!

One of the first things I had to do upon my arrival was set up my own snazzy ID card for the University of Manchester, so I could get in the building. I have never been on the university campus before, so Ruth Norris (Head of Strategic Relations), my work experience supervisor, had printed out a map for me so I could find the right building, as, knowing me, I would probably walk into a Tesco and not realize I am in the wrong place! It must have looked very strange, as I walked through a swarm of university STUDENTS, who were (a lot) taller than me, to pick a STAFF card.

So far I have been to two events outside of the office, and both of them were in CityLabs, a very modern building with little colour-changing lights inside.

On the first day, I took notes on the meeting about the HIC NIHR project, however I had one question. What were snowman cones? I had heard it being referenced several times in the meeting, and was curious to what it meant. Afterwards, when I asked about it, it turned out the team were discussing not snowman cones, but SNOMED CODES! These represent clinically relevant information; for instance, falling into a storm drain is TC32100.

On Thursday I went to CityLabs with Ruth again to attend a series of talks and panel discussions. These were about the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) Diagnostics and Technology Accelerator (DiTa) launch event. Once they had finished, we visited the exhibition rooms, and I got three free pens! These were from different companies, including Genedrive, a company that tests for a genetic risk in less than 45 minutes instead of having to wait five days from hospital results, which could save lives.

Working at CHI has been a lot of fun, and I have also got to have a look around the University of Manchester campus, as I was taking pictures for the website, which was really interesting as I don’t usually have a reason to walk around the area. I have also learned that I own a piece of wearable tech, my phone. My health app can also track steps, and therefore can give me an update on how far I have travelled.

Eleanor Maher