Starting my Saltire Scholar adventure

Hey there and welcome to my blog! My name is Eleanor Downie, I am now a couple weeks into my virtual internship as a Performance Analysis Intern with Network rail. Despite working from home, I have quickly got up and running working from my wee home office setup. When starting this internship, I was initially worried about starting a new job with new people, whilst only being able to talk online. Additionally, my internship relied on the use of the statistical programme PowerBI, which I had never used in my life! To me this was all very daunting, what if I was useless?

However, now being comfortably settled at my new job, these fears seem completely unfounded, my co-workers were very welcoming and are lovely, supportive, and clearly want me to get the most out of this internship. For example, I mentioned to my manger that I was interested in surveying and now we have plans to visit one of network rail’s helicopters, which I will update you on after my visit! As for using PowerBI, I have been picking it up very quickly and creating dashboards for network rail and have found the programme both interesting and useful, it’s definitely a skill I will continue to use long after my internship.

A new job and new skills

My job at Network rail mostly involves data analysis of train delays and incidents on the railway. The day- to -day of my internship involves going to meetings, reading reports, and creating PowerBI dashboards. However, data analysis goes above creating various graphs, and importantly involves looking into the why? Why was this train late? Is there a link between delays and location, weather, seasonality or something else? Finding out the why is important as it allows for resolutions and improvements being implemented, which for me is very rewarding work, knowing that you are making a change.

My time at Network rail has allowed me to pick up new skills as well as apply and improve pre-existing ones. Skills such as communication and teamwork have been important, as Network rail is such a large company, with the important information coming from many different sources. As someone who is working from home, these skills were particularly tested with the added barrier of virtual meetings and workshops, thus learning to work independently to meet deadlines was another important skill.

Tips for working from home.

Personally, I’ve found working from home quite enjoyable, whilst it has made some aspects of the job, such as teamwork and communication a little harder, I’ve found that as someone who has worked in an office before, that the benefit of having my own tailored space has made me much less tense whilst working. Working from home lets me take breaks and gather snacks when I need to, and not have to worry about the commute home. As I’ve been working from home for a while now, I’d thought I’d share my top tips! So here is my list of tips:

  1. Take breaks and keep track of time. Working at home means it’s a lot easier to get glued to your computer, so take some breaks throughout the day, well away from your monitor. Personally, I would suggest getting some fresh air, it really helps to clear my head. Also remember to log off at closing time.
  2. Keep your workspace clean and organised. I find that having a tidy and organised desk helps me focus and find the things I need quickly. I also have a white bored with important deadlines and tasks that I can look to, keeping myself on track.
  3. Get comfortable. When working from home, keeping your space comfortable is also very important. Personally, I’ve noticed that remembering to open windows is a big help, as the fresh air keeps my mind focused. I have also surrounded myself with plants, to liven up my room and help improve the air. The last thing I would recommend is to get a comfortable desk chair, as you will be sitting in it a lot! Even just adding some pillows to mine has made it a lot more comfortable to sit in for longer periods of time.


Overall, the first couple of weeks at Network rail have certainly been exciting and eventful. I have already started to pick up new skills, and as the internship continues, I will certainly keep you updated on the latest news in Blog #2. See you then!

Written by: Eleanor Downie, University of Aberdeen, Performance Analyst Intern, Network Rail, Glasgow(virtual)
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