As host of the podcast, “WeAreSTS: Science and Technology Studies at UCL (University College London),” I’ve created opportunities for students wanting to volunteer their talents, time, and energy to create programmes. This page describes five ways students can become involved.
For this podcast, I prioritise UCL students who are enrolled in one of the STS degree programmes. This is because I have limited capacity for supervised work. If I cannot offer you a place, please consider our freelance option in the meantime, then ask again later in your studies.
A variety of roles are open for students enrolled in STS degree programmes. These are voluntary roles, and they are managed me.
- interviewer: recruiting people to interview, research, script writing, interviewing, transcript preparation
- editor: post-production work such as editing audio recordings and creating final versions for use in the podcast
- communications: produce social media, develop and engage audience, monitor feedback, develop web-based resources, develop metadata
- field recorder: some WeAreSTS episodes are recordings from seminars and special events recorded live at the event
- join-the-pool: combine interviewer, editor, communications and field-recorder in ways that suit the changing demands of the project
Want to try? Listen for “Get Involved” sessions throughout the year to gain more information and ask questions.
Are these paid positions?
No. These are unpaid opportunities to gain experience, develop portfolios, work with other people, and meet new challenges.
I thought you paid students to do this?
Check out the STSNewsRoom, which contributes episodes to the podcast. The newsroom has paid summer studentships.
Other paid positions are advertised via formal networks in STS. We try to create paid posts as part of a general summer studentship programme, but WeAreSTS competes with other activities in this programme.
I also seek additional funding for studentships throughout the year. I don’t want “lack of funding” to be the reason why we restrict opportunities for portfolio development. This is why I have set up some volunteering roles.
Do I need experience?
No. But you do need aptitude and a bit of independence. My initial questions will be:
- what have you done like this before?
- what do you think this role is going to involve?
- tell us how you’re going to learn what to do?
If you want to learn but feel you’re starting at zero, come to one of the “Get Involved” sessions and we’ll talk. You do not need to have done podcasting before.
Can I propose one role for myself, or do I have to do them all?
It’s best to start with one role. This allows you to concentrate on one set of skills, develop them well, and show yourself working at a high level of ability. If you want to stop after exploring one role, that’s fine. If you want to do more, our advice is to concentrate on one role for a term or a year, then move to the next. There is no typical sequence to follow. But avoid overpromising. We know you have a lot of work to do in your degree, and we want you to be realistic as well as successful.
How much time will this take?
That depends on what you want to do. Turn that question around: how much time do you have, realistically, to offer? If it’s not much, we can start off small. If your available time is uneven throughout the term, we can work with that. It’s key to be realistic with what’s possible. We organise the work in packets associated with particular episodes.
Do I work on my own, or do I work in a team?
That depends on you. If you’re new to this, we’ll start you off working on one part of one episode, and you’ll work in a team. If you’re experienced and want to work on your own, that’s OK. Our advice is, no matter what work you do yourself, work in a team. Partly, that replicates real-world employment. Partly, others can help make things better, and they’ll notice things you might miss. Partly, this isn’t forced labour. It’s supposed to be fun and rewarding.
Can I work away from London?
Yes. It takes a bit more work to coordinate and record at a distance, but with the experience of pandemic restrictions most people are familiar with remote interviewing and project work. WeAreSTS has some excellent examples of remote work already. Can you spot them?
Freelancers develop projects on their own initiative, then submit a completed piece of work in a format that is ready-to-use. A lot of journalists work this way. A lot of academics work this way, too. Freelancers work to specifications, and finished projects don’t just drop from thin air. Still, freelancers have a lot of freedom to develop topics and projects in ways they think best.
Why offer freelance options?
STS is bursting at the seams with talent and creativity. Whenever we talk about podcasts, we hear great ideas for new programmes. We recognise our own limits in time and skill. We also recognise we have particular views on what constitutes “STS”. These should not be barriers to great programme making, especially by students and staff who want to develop work in other directions. So, we’ve created the “freelance” option to make space for originality. We have in mind this option being taken up by a student who wants to try an alternative format (such as long-form story-telling or free-format debates), or by a student who has something big to say about STS, or by a student who thinks there’s a key idea missing that they want to supply.
Can I propose a freelance project working with friends?
Yes. For some projects, it makes a lot of sense of work this way. Describe who’s involved in your proposal, and we can discuss the idea from there. We will want to know who is in charge, and that person will need to be an STS student or staff member.
Can I submit my coursework?
Yes. Keep in mind, we’ll automatically consider podcast projects done for STS modules that have received solidly first-class marks. This means, we’ll be approaching you! (And if you don’t hear from us soon enough, take the initiative and ask us directly – don’t be shy – we’re proud of the great work our students do.) You also can use something you’ve created as coursework as one part of a new larger project.
Before using coursework, we need to make some additional checks. For example, any person interviewed will be asked to approve their role in the episode. This is because when they were first interviewed they might not have considered a podcast episode was likely. As a matter of ethics and courtesy, we will want to double check with them that this is OK. We also need to check everyone involved in the work receives proper credit, and that materials used are cleared for copyright purposes.
No decision we make will have any effect on your marks. If we use something, your marks aren’t going to change; conversely, if we don’t use it, you’re marks aren’t going to change, either.
What if my idea doesn’t fit your model for a programme?
If you have something else in mind, you are welcome to propose it. I’m open to new ideas and taking a chance within UCL’s standards of course. Send me an email to set up a chat.