Finding My Own Way

Over the last eight weeks, I learned so much not only about the topic of my project, but also how to best manage my time and succeed while working remotely. Almost every day, simple questions arise that could easily and quickly be answered in person. Yet in this remote setting, the challenges of ascertaining answers take extra time away from moving forward with the project. As an example, towards the beginning of this internship I had a question about how to use a certain feature on SAOImage DS9, an astronomical imaging and data visualization application. Instead of receiving an immediate answer from a collaborator in my group as I would in an in-person setting, I needed to wait two days to get a reply from the help desk. The constant back and forth with my supervisor and several help desks results in slowed progress, however it also pushes me to search and learn more about these topics. Although at times working remotely can prove to be frustrating, I have learned that patience and perseverance go a long way towards helping me achieve my goals.

As a result of the World of Work Fellowship, I am able to participate in this fascinating astronomical research. This position is my first time working as part of a research team, which has been unlike any experience, school or work, that I have had before. During the school year, so much time is focused on attending classes, finishing assignments on time, studying for exams, and getting extra help when needed that the whole process becomes monotonous and predictable. On the other hand, working as a researcher on an entirely new project provides unique experiences and allows room for exploration. Instead of reading from a textbook to learn assigned material, I need to find many different sources to piece together enough valuable information for my specific topic so that I can proceed with certainty and know that I’m doing each step correctly. This interesting process ensures that every day I learn about new concepts and accomplish new pieces of the project.

At the start of this internship I set out with several goals intended to help me academically and towards future career plans. One of the most important skills I built during this project is my ability to continue searching for solutions to a question until I reach a suitable answer. Developing this skill is invaluable towards future successes. Additionally, I have learned a lot about astronomy and data analysis skills. Furthermore, throughout this internship I exclusively coded in Python, enhancing my programming abilities as well as expanding my knowledge of programming languages. As I continue in my studies at Brandeis the experience I gained will help me in my pursuit of science, scientific research, and the learning process. Additionally, learning to forge my own way using resources that I also need to identify has expanded the way I think and will influence all that I do in the future both academically and in extra-curricular activities.