Winning is only half of it...

There’s so much to enjoy and celebrate right now, so many potential wins with the World Cup and Wimbledon, the Olympics is on the horizon, oh and I just earned my PhD AND completed a three-month internship with Essex County Council, so i'm already winning!

My experience working with ECC’s Data and Analytics team has been invaluable and definitely exceeded my expectations, bridging my academic background and the practical demands of the corporate world and preparing me for my career ahead. During my time with the team I worked on two projects: Trends in Complaints and Economic Digest. The projects not only improved my technical skills but also provided valuable experience and insight into the differences between working in academia and a corporate environment.

Trends in Complaints Project

One of my main responsibilities was analysing customer complaints to understand the relationship with service demand. This involved procuring data on various ECC services, including Waste and Recycling, Children and Adults Social Care, and Highways. Using statistical methods, such as the Granger Causality Test and Distance Correlation, I identified trends and correlations that could help improve service delivery and customer satisfaction. Another exciting part of this project was creating an interactive Markdown file using Plotly in R, which made complex data accessible to stakeholders. This analysis highlighted key trends in complaints and will inform stakeholders’ decision-making.

Economic Digest Project

The second project, Economic Digest, involved creating a dashboard using Power BI and visualising various measures for each district in Essex. This project aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the landscape in Essex, supporting stakeholders’ strategic planning and decision-making. I collected and integrated various data sources, then developed interactive dashboards that would allow stakeholders to explore and compare different measures dynamically. With research and the help of colleagues, I successfully solved a few difficulties that I encountered during the development, such as procuring the data and programming the title of visuals to reflect the selection of different districts, dates and measures, refining the dashboard and enabling stakeholders to gain deeper insights and make informed decisions.

Winning is only half of it. Having fun, and preparing yourself for the next challenge is the other half

Insights on working in Academia vs. Local Government

As I was involved in a few research projects at the University of Essex during my studies, it was interesting for me to experience the differences between working in academia and for a large local government organisation, and I wanted to share my reflections on this.

  1. Project Timelines

Deadlines! Perhaps one of the most significant differences were project timelines. Research projects often have longer timeframes in academia, requiring in-depth research and analysis. However, in a business setting projects typically operate under tighter schedules. This required efficient time management and the ability to deliver results quickly without compromising quality. I found the change of pace challenging at the beginning, but after the first project, I adapted the time schedules and ran the second project smoothly.

  1. Collaboration and Communication

Working in a team that is only one piece of a complex organisation puzzle requires closer collaboration with team members and more frequent communication than in academia. At ECC, I regularly attended weekly meetings and interacted with colleagues from various teams to procure data and seek feedback. This collaboration ensured that the projects were aligned with the council's needs. While collaboration is also important in academia, there is often a greater focus on individual research and analysis. I wasn’t used to obtaining comments from colleagues since the work I have done in my research is self-contained. However, I did find it useful to receive feedback from colleagues, their input was valuable to shape the outputs. And working with lots of people is a great way of learning about the varied roles and responsibilities that exist within local government.

  1. Practical Application

In the ‘real-world’, the focus of any analytical work is on practical application and delivering immediate impact that improves people's lives. The projects I worked on at ECC were designed to address current challenges and provide tangible benefits to the council and the community, which, in my opinion, was both more challenging and exciting to work on. This focus differs from academia, where the primary goal is often to contribute to theoretical knowledge and advance the field through research publications.

  1. Stakeholder Engagement

Engaging with a wider range of stakeholders was another important component of my time working in ECC. I had to ensure that my analysis and visualisations were understandable and useful for non-technical stakeholders. This required a lot more focus on my story-telling skills and possessing the ability to translate complex data into clear and straightforward concepts and visuals. The audience in academia is typically other researchers and academics familiar with technical knowledge and methodologies, so the emphasis on making the outputs make sense was much greater than I would have anticipated.

  1. Skill Development

Both environments offer opportunities for self-development, but the focus is different. In academia, the focus is on developing deep expertise in specific research fields. However, in the corporate world, for instance, at ECC, I gained broader skills, including technical skills, such as R, RStudio, and Power BI, project management, and communication skills. This set of skills is crucial for success in an organisation where many different roles are working towards achieving the same business outcomes. It was challenging for me because I had to learn new skills that were critical to delivering impact, outside of my comfort zone of being confident with theoretical concepts.


For those considering a career in data analytics in local government, my experience at ECC highlights the exciting and impactful nature of this field. I am very satisfied that I had the chance to work on real-world projects and influence stakeholders’ decision-making. The ability to transform data into valuable insight is powerful and can drive positive change in any organisation.

As I continue my journey in the world of data, I am grateful for the experiences and knowledge gained during my internship at ECC. I encourage aspiring data analysts to seek out similar opportunities, embrace challenges, and keep learning. The future of data analytics is bright, and there is no better time to be a part of this dynamic and evolving field.

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