Student Case Study: Conference Assistant UofE

Name of Student:  Zamir Kadodia

Degree Subject:  BA Philosophy

Job Title: Conference Assistant

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Access to Internships (A2I)

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

  • Responsible for putting together a programme committee.
  • Responsible for co-ordinating the refereeing of abstract submissions.
  • Responsible for co-ordinating acceptance/rejection of abstracts.
  • Responsible for co-ordinating the conference programme.
  • Responsible for conference management: leading a team of postgraduate volunteers, co-ordinating notices and last-minute changes, answering questions, guiding delegates.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

The work helped to enable the smooth running of the conference. The biggest task was perhaps co-ordinating the refereeing of abstracts, where I had to gather a list of philosophers willing to review abstracts, and then delegate each abstract to three philosophers, making sure each abstract was within that philosopher’s field of study and that there was no overlap. This was a mammoth task, and I developed new skills along the way such as working with EasyChair and Microsoft Excel. It was a great personal achievement of mine to see each paper through from the submissions, to acceptance or rejection, to refereeing, and then finally to see them presented at the conference where I was an assistant.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

There were occasions where we did not have enough reviewers for the papers we had accepted, and this involved a lot of emails to a lot of different philosophers, which was very time consuming. Thus, I had to plan ahead and develop my skills of planning and also communication. Further, at the conference, there were times when some of the conference assistants had to drop out because of illness, so I overcame these challenges by taking up their shifts or discussing a plan of action with the other assistants.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Problem Solving
  • Organisation
  • IT
  • Focus on Goals and Outcomes
  • Decision Making

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

Overall, this was a fantastic experience. I had an amazing line manager who trained me enough so that I could complete the tasks I needed to complete independently, and gain new skills in the process. It was great to be involved with all aspects of the conference, and see it through from start to finish. Although it was challenging at times, the rewards far outweigh the benefits, and I believe taking this internship has shown me a different side to the field of philosophy, and one not seen by an undergraduate. I was glad to have had this opportunity.