Midpoint Reflections at Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health

 

Midpoint Reflections

 

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What summer looks like at Harvard!

Now that I am more than halfway done with my internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health it is time that I reflect upon my work here so far! I have definitely become more comfortable with the working environment at the lab and feel like I am a helpful part of the research team.

After the initial excitement of starting out my internship, the next couple of weeks were a bit trying. There was a big push for data to be entered into Excel so a good portion of my time was devoted to data entry. After figuring out how to correctly code the data, I found the work to become monotonous after typing for several hours straight. On top of that I developed tendonitis in both of my wrists from typing too fast and incorrectly so I was a little bit disheartened. However, I remembered from the WOW advice given to me at the start of my internship that I should “embrace the grunt work” and try to look at the bigger picture of the work being done. I really took that guidance and applied it to my internship setting. I recognized that while the day-to-day typing was not the most glamorous job, that the results that came out of the study could really help children with mental health concerns.

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Manual for MATCH therapy used in studies

Furthermore, I was trained in the meta analysis project which is more hands on and utilizes some of the knowledge I have gained from previous neuroscience and psychology classes. The meta analysis is a paper that the PI (principal investigator) puts out every couple of years that examines many previously published studies. It is a way to streamline all the data that exists in youth psychotherapy approaches. There are many different criteria a paper must meet to “pass” through the screening process so my job has been to read the paper and code for different research elements. It is extremely interesting to read about all the current work being done, and I feel like it has really enhanced my internship this summer.

Links to previous meta analyses

I think that while my classes at Brandeis have prepared me for this internship, working is pretty different from university/academic life. I’ve noticed that I am much more tired after working in the lab for a couple hours, versus taking classes and participating in extracurricular at Brandeis. Sitting in front of a computer requires energy in a very different way than I would have originally thought! However, as the weeks continued I noticed I became more adjusted to a working schedule and it didn’t feel as overwhelming. I have also noticed that working in a research lab is not as much about what you know but how well you work with others. Key skills are thinking on your feet, problem solving, and multitasking. Collaboration is essential to being able to accomplish anything in the lab.

Overall I feel that my weeks working at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health have given me a greater understanding in what research in a clinical psych lab looks like. While I am not sure if I would pursue a career solely in research, I can see myself being happy working as a research assistant after graduation and gaining more skills in the field. I am excited to finish out my internship and continue to develop professionally.

Melissa Viezel ’17

2 thoughts on “Midpoint Reflections at Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health”

  1. Hi Melissa,

    I can absolutely empathize with you here about the data organization and collection processes that go into a research project! Though I also found myself involved in coding data for multiple hours a day at the midpoint of my internship at Boston University, I completely agree with you that constantly reminding yourself of the bigger picture of the research project with these seemingly menial tasks really helps you to embrace and get through them without feeling too dejected. Since I am also involved in research over the summer, I’m curious about which parts of the research process you are most intrigued by? It seems like you are doing incredibly rewarding work here!

  2. Hi Melissa,

    I completely understand the frustration that comes with doing tedious data entry when it comes to conducting research, and I can also relate to realizing the importance of it. During the entire time at my non-profit, I progressively worked on collecting data on companies to which New York City gives contracts. This was an incredibly slow process, but when I would get fatigued or irritated, I remembered the importance of the work I was doing. It sounds like the work you and the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health is great, and I hope you enjoyed your time there!

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