Embracing Impact: My Experience as a Social Impact Evaluation intern in SRS
This summer opened doors for me to explore the world of social impact as I took part in an Employ.ed on campus internship at the department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS). SRS is an interesting department – as a student I had no idea the University was delivering so much for local community and environmental projects. Through this internship, I’ve gained insights, faced challenges, and developed a passion for driving positive change.
Exploring New Horizons
What kind of social impact should a university be aiming to achieve and how would we know if it had been delivered? As a Social Policy with Quantitative Methods student, the profound questions about the University’s potential impact and the means to measure it intrigued me. Collaborating with the team allowed me to bring a fresh perspective and valuable numerical and data analysis skills into the conversation. The University has great potential to share its vast resources and knowledge base with the wider community, and I feel very lucky to have been working on ways the University can achieve this to deliver the most social impact for local community.
During the course of my internship, I delved into two main projects:
- Refreshing the Community Plan 2025:
- This involved a deep dive into research, benchmarking organisations, and mapping stakeholders. The goal? To amplify the University’s social impact in the next community plan. This process has given me experience in desk research, stakeholder engagement and survey design.
- Community Plan Reporting 2023:
- I also took the challenge of revamping the current Community Plan reporting process for this year. My focus was streamlining reporting for effective change measurement and evaluating the current plan’s success. This meant diving into data management, analysis, and crafting relevant reporting indicators.
Highlights of the summer internship
There were several standout moments during my summer internship:
- Engaging and informing locals at the Meadows festival alongside the community team and Edinburgh Futures Institute colleagues – on my very first day!
- Exploring the recently acquired Drumbrae site in Stirling to learn about forestry and carbon sequestration.
- Joining workshops with stakeholders to craft the next community plan.
- Utilising my problem solving and data skills to create robust reporting indicators.
- Collaborating with another intern, Judith from Edinburgh Futures Institute, to uncover lesser-known social impact work taking place across the University.
- Meeting and collaborating with lots of interesting colleagues across the University.
A Memorable Project
A project I particularly enjoyed was designing a financial proxy calculator for the Community Access to Rooms scheme.
The Community Access to Rooms scheme is a pilot project where the University allows certain community groups to use spaces for free during weekday evenings.
We as a team decided that having a financial proxy value, alongside our existing (fantastic) quotes and case studies, would be a great way to enhance our impact communication of the scheme. I researched methodologies, organised and cleaned the booking requests dataset, and implemented the calculator using Excel. We later had a meeting with Social Value Portal, who are the UK’s leading organisation in measuring social value, who validated the methods I had chosen.
I integrated data management techniques to make the spreadsheet as efficient and self-sustaining as possible and simplify future reporting, to maximise the impact of the scheme.
As summer draws to a close, I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue this internship part-time throughout the coming academic year. I look forward to further advancing the Community Plan reporting and refresh. I have loved working with the community team and SRS. A special thank you to Sarah Anderson and Gemma Gourlay for making this internship possible!