Meet the AUT Students Working at CSDA

From left: Shae Reichfeld, Communications Intern at CSDA, Nic Watson and Julie Sandilands, Research Assistants at CSDA.November 15, 2018

A new appreciation for the role of data analytics in improving people’s lives has been a revelation for one of CSDA’s recent recruits.

Shae Reichfeld (pictured with CSDA research assistants Nic Watson and Julie Sandilands) joined CSDA as a communications intern and says she has found it incredibly motivating to work with a team so thirsty for knowledge.

“My biggest takeaway so far is how relevant this work is to our civic life.”

Shae says prior to working at CSDA she had shied away from data but she now understands how it can be applied and used as a tool to inform better decisions - and how, as a communicator, she can use data analytics to strengthen ideological reasoning and arguments.

“The team work so hard to deliver interpretations of data that change lives for the better. To have the role of communicating this in a way that everyone can understand is an absolute honour.”

Currently in her third year of an undergraduate double degree in Communication Studies and Business, majoring in Public Relations and International Business, Shae says her long-term ambition is to hold a senior leadership role in a media agency.

For Nic Watson, who recently joined CSDA as a research assistant, his role has given him new insights into the intensive ethics process and how critical it is for researchers.

“The ethics process involved in proposing a research project at AUT is comprehensive. Spending weeks at a time going through the process of making sure that every check is made and every risk is addressed, has made me realise just how important and firmly supported ethical research is.”

Nic says the CSDA team has been very supportive while he has learned the ropes in his new role which involves keeping research projects on track, ensuring rules and guidelines for ethical research are adhered to, and communicating with stakeholders and research partners in New Zealand and the US.

After completing his Bachelor of Business with a double major in Economics and Sustainable Enterprise earlier this year, Nic plans to study a postgraduate Bachelor of Business with honours in Economics next year. Before starting his studies, Nic will complete a summer internship with Motu, an economic and policy research institute in Wellington.

Long-term Nic is considering becoming a university lecturer.

“This year I had the chance to teach in workshops for an economics paper and it was heaps of fun. If I can make a career out of teaching at a university that would be fantastic.”