Meet the team of students working on the University of Edinburgh’s pilot scheme trialling a new automated subtitling service. Read on to find out why we applied, how we fit it around studying and what valuable experience it has given us as student employees.

 

Gussie,  Cognition in Science and Society MSc,  part-time student

 

What appealed to you about the role?  

I was looking to gain some part-time work experience in a field more relevant to my degree program which I could fit in with my part-time studies. My undergraduate degree was in Linguistics and English Language, so I had some familiarity with accents of English and transcription experience and I had studied aspects of accessibility in technology design during my masters, so the role was a good fit. As the position is short term, I could easily fit it in with other commitments whilst gaining the relevant work experience I was after.

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

As a part-time student, I already had another job. I was aware I’d have to be able to juggle this position around my other job as well as my dissertation research, which is where the flexible working hours were really beneficial and ultimately enabled me to take on the position.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

I generally opt to work my hours over two days which suits fitting it around my other job. This means I work long shifts which can be quite straining for subtitling at times, however I find it a good pattern for working on longer videos which tend to require a couple of days work. I can pick up an hour-long video in the morning and make a lot of headway by the end of the next day.

What experiences has it given you?

Working for the University as a student employee has been really valuable because you get to see how many people are involved in providing the services you use as a student every day. Meeting everyone in the project group and neighbouring teams has been great for expanding both professional and social connections. Overall, seeing how people work together across teams to get involved in various projects has been a really positive experience to take forward into my professional career.

 

Cindy Ng, Human Rights LLM, full-time student

 

What appealed to you about the role?

Before coming to Edinburgh, I was a journalist with some experience in video production and subtitling, so I just find this job perfect for my career background and interest. As a postgraduate student new to this country, I am eager to have a taste of the working culture in the UK and get to know more people. This job is a great opportunity for me as its flexible working hours fit well into my learning schedule – it won’t burden me too much, and at the same time adds colour to my daily life. Lastly, of course, it’s always great to earn some money for my self-funded studies here. 

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

My major concern is how to balance my studies and the part-time job. As the workload of readings and class preparation for a law student is quite demanding, I really think twice whether I can handle a part-time job before applying. But luckily, this job allows a great flexibility in office hours. I find it very compatible with my studies, even in the busiest days of essay writing. Having a part-time job can balance my life and relieve the stress of doing a Master’s degree, as I can talk to other young people and take a little break from my reading materials.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

I opt to work for three days a week and 4 hours per day. I think shorter work duration can help me focus and reserve energy for my studies. Usually, I will schedule to work early in the morning, so I still have a long afternoon that I can do revision or write essays in the library. And as the office is just 10-min walk away from the campus, the location is very convenient for me so that I can fit my work and studies on the same day.

What experiences has it given you?

Before working as a subtitling editor, I thought subtitling was easy and straight forward. However, it turns out to be quite challenging for me, as I have to understand different accents and video contents that are highly academic or professional. Another interesting experience is the different working environment in Edinburgh compared with that in Hong Kong, my home country. In terms of minimum hourly wage, rest time and other fringe benefits, the UK law offers more protection and entitlements to the workers. Moreover, the interaction between colleagues and the design of the workplace are also more dynamic, which encourages sharing of ideas and opinions. It is a very new and valuable experience for me as this is my first paid job in a foreign country.

 

Alison, Film Exhibition & Curation MSc, full-time student

 

What appealed to you about the role?

While scrolling through opportunities on MyCareerHub, this role immediately jumped out at me because of my experience working with transcripts and my general administrative experience. On top of that, the actual project was of particular interest to me. I’ve encountered accessibility issues at film screenings which have made me very aware of the importance of striving for reliable accommodation for the multitude of differently abled people in the world. So being a part of a University pilot project addressing just that was very appealing to me.

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

As an international student I am only allowed to work up to 20 hours per week, so because this job only required 12 per week, I knew I was in the clear. Also, as a non-UK/EU citizen, I recognize I may not be every employer’s first choice, but since the University makes it known that they are happy to employ all nationalities as well as students, I was very comfortable applying to the position.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

The flexibility of this job is definitely a highlight for me. Since classes are over, my schedule is not as consistent. Meetings with my dissertation supervisor and other commitments (casual dog-walking job, volunteering) are more sporadic. I’m very grateful for the flexibility and scheduling this position allows for.

What experiences has it given you?

While subtitling, a bonus has actually been absorbing the content of the videos. Some of which has been highly related to my degree and personal interests, and some not. Either way I have found the content interesting and enlightening.

But most of all, performing this role has really shed light on the current state of automated captions –it’s not great. The automated subtitles are almost always entirely nonsensical before we get to them. Without human editors, those who require subtitles would be unable to understand these videos fully. It is an area of tech that must continue to be developed, and until it is perfected, must be supplemented with human editors. It is important work that mustn’t be brushed aside.

 

Anamaria, Social Psychology MSc, full-time student

 

What appealed to you about the role?

I have a degree in Literature and then changed disciplines for my Master’s. This means that most of my previous work experience has had to do with languages, editing and publishing. While looking for opportunities on MyCareerHub I found this job offer and felt like my profile fit perfectly. I also thought this would be a very good opportunity to start exploring the job market in the UK and to get further involved with the University.

 

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

The University recommends postgraduate students to not work over 9 hours per week.. At first, I was worried about the extra three hours that the media subtitling editor job required. But I have really had no issues managing academic work and this job. The contract length for this post and the flexibility with which you can work your shifts, fit right in with my schedule.

The post does require editors to be proficient in English though, as we need to be able to infer meaning from context, to understand different accents, and to have skills necessary to look up specialised terms that are not part of everyday speech. However, teamwork has really made this easy as there is always someone willing to give a second opinion on wording and speech which are difficult to understand.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

This job has provided me with some structure to my free time. In my case, I have found that I prefer doing two full shift days so that I can have three days of the week to take care of errands and do school work. This has its drawbacks, of course, editing subtitles for 6 hours straight can be draining, but it really depends on what works best for you and your studies.

What experiences has it given you?

I started this job expecting editing to be second nature to me. In the past, I had done it on a free-lance basis, and had worked by providing a Word document with timings and a transcription of the video. In this case, we are able to work with a range of programs and software that are tailored to subtitling. This has given me an unexpected insight into word-to-text technology which is extraordinary.

Ultimately, what has been most constructive so far is that it has given me the opportunity to experience working in the UK and engaging with the University at a deeper level. I have been able to see how workers’ rights, opportunities and the inclusion of disabilities are central to employers in Scotland. I have enjoyed working along with our team of editors and being involved with providing informative content from the University.

 

Katherine, Fine Art MA, full-time student

 

What appealed to you about the role?

This role was perfect for me as I had some previous experience in transcribing and journalism. I also wanted to learn more about disability and accessibility services and it’s been incredibly interesting to see how subtitling technology works and how it can benefit all students.

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

As a full-time student I have had previous difficulties with finding work that fits around my studies and finding the right balance. The flexible hours in this role have been great in pairing with my studies and the art college is only five minutes down the road.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

The flexible hours give me a reliable routine throughout the week as I can spend the morning working and then spend the rest of the day in the studio or the library. The four hour shifts are great for short, focused bursts of work and there’s always an option to work from home – whichever suits you best!

What experiences has it given you?

It’s been really interesting to work alongside the University and it’s great to see the value they place on creating accessible, learning material. It’s great to know the work we are doing is making a difference for other students and can be helpful for future research on accessibility and disability services.

 

Bianca, Health Studies BA, full-time student

What appealed to you about the role?
As a final year student, I was looking to gain work experience in the summer before applying for full-time work. I came across this position on the University’s Career Service and applied seeing it was at a place of familiarity. Also, with previous experiences as editor and proof reader of religious materials for my local church I saw my skills match with this job opportunity.

 

Did you have any working requirements or concerns as a student?

I was looking for a role on a more flexible basis that would enable me to balance work alongside other commitments such as church, family and studies.

How does it fit around your studies and other commitments?

Classes were over and I had just submitted my dissertation, so the timing worked out well. I did have one exam during the working period but since this position is contracted to 12 hours a week, I had plenty time to study, with extra to spare. The flexibility of the working days/hours, in addition to the option of working from home, was truly valuable.

What experiences has it given you?

Working for the University has provided me with opportunity to experience what working life would be like, as well as recognise the work behind the services I have used as a student at the University. This role has also brought awareness of the importance of disability services and accessibility issues and it has been really rewarding to work behind the scenes at the University, to care for the student community.