Jenni is a Cambridge student who is interning with us here at the AKU Society for four weeks. She’s been here for two weeks already and has another two weeks to go. In today’s blog we find out a bit more about her and the experience so far.

What are you currently studying at University and why did you choose it?


I am studying Biological Natural Sciences, which means I’m studying a mixture of science modules, but with a Biology focus. In my first year I did four modules: Biology of cells, Evolution and Behaviour, Mathematical Biology and Chemistry. In my second year I’m planning to take Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology and Pathology.

I chose the course because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in after I finished my A levels, and the Natural Sciences course gave me a bit more time to decide. The course also gives me the advantage of having a very broad scientific base, which I wouldn’t get on most other courses.

How did you find out about the AKU Society?

I was looking through the Cambridge careers service website for summer internships when the AKU society internship came up. I’d never heard of AKU Society or alkaptonuria before, but I thought the internship looked really interesting, so I put in an application.

Why did you apply to be an intern here?

Part of the reason I chose to study a Biology focussed degree is because I am able to learn about diseases and their biological causes, and hopefully one day will be able to be able to use that knowledge to help people. I thought that applying for an internship with AKU Society would be a good way to start working towards that goal. The work described on the job application looked really varied, so I felt I would get a really good experience of what working for a medical charity is like.

What have you been working on in the past couple of weeks of your internship?

I’ve been reading through the AKU Society and DevelopAKUre websites and reviewing the content. I’ve been writing updated versions of some of the DevelopAKUre pages, which will hopefully make it online some time in the near future. I’ve also been doing some research on how to launch a successful Indiegogo campaign in preparation for our new campaign starting in October – make sure you look out for it! Other things I’ve been working on include sending out invites for a Welsh Assembly Rare Diseases Lobby Event which we’re trying to organise in November, searching for new patients by reading through scientific case studies, updating the Wikipedia articles on alkaptonuria and nitisinone, and looking for local schools that we can visit to teach schoolchildren about the genetics behind AKU.

What have you enjoyed most about the internship so far?

I’ve really enjoyed writing updated versions of the DevelopAKUre website pages. Besides that, I’ve generally enjoyed the fact that the work I’ve done has been really varied, and it’s kept me interested in what I’m doing.

What do you most want to get out of this internship?

I’ve already really benefitted from seeing how AKU Society runs and I’d like to continue to learn more about how a medical charity functions day to day. Because the work I’ve been given has been so varied I’ve learnt a huge amount in a small space of time, from how to upload blogs to the AKU Society website to how to edit Wikipedia articles. This internship is making me a lot more technologically competent, and I think that’s really valuable.

What do you want to do when you finish your degree?

I’m still not sure about that! I’ve really enjoyed my internship with AKU Society and I would definitely be interested in looking for work in the charity sector in the future. I’m still considering whether I’d be interested in going into research, which would probably require me to do a Masters and PhD. I think I’d enjoy science communications work, but it’s a really competitive field.

What hobbies do you have outside your degree?

During term time, I sing alto part with ‘Sidney Singers’, my colleges’ amateur choir. I recently started going to Ballroom and Latin dance classes during term time, which are really fun. During the holidays I ice skate, and I particularly enjoy ice dancing. I volunteer with Cambridge Hands On Science (CHaOS) in and out of term time. CHaOS is a student group which demonstrates science experiments to children around the country to try and get more children excited about science.

What is your favourite book/film/tv show and why?

My favourite book is ‘Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, because it’s so beautifully written. It’s really dark, but my favourite film is ‘Watchman’. My favourite TV show is ‘Midsomer Murders’ because it’s so bad that it’s funny. Also, it’s one of the only TV shows that my whole family will sit down and watch together, and take bets on how many people will die in that episode.