Wrapping Up the Summer

In these last couple of weeks, I made so many new friends and really got to explore the character of San Francisco. Now that my internship, along with the summer, has come to an end, I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend there. At times it was hard and tedious scripting inside when I knew that the weather outside was so nice, but the sense of accomplishment when you finished a project was more than enough to fuel my progress.

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I would say that I’ve met my learning goals because I have learned so much in terms of information extraction from working with sources with all sorts of formats and different languages; and source analysis, especially since the projects that I was working on were a part of a much large collective project to collect and document linguistic information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn as much about the translational algorithms that we use as I would have liked because of the time constraint, but it was still interesting to argue and research about semantic ambiguity and sense disambiguation in order to provide the best translating through our database. But, I think that I learned the most by absorbing information from the collective experiences of the wonderful staff that I worked with.

I think that this summer has made it clear that I am capable of data extraction work, but I also learned that if the sources are too similar to each other, the work eventually became tedious to do because at that point, you aren’t writing code but rather changing variables and conditional statements. I tried to combat that by switching which types of sources that I was working on as well as the language that I was processing through so that the challenges that I would face would be different. This internship has shown me that I am still very interested in how a computer understands languages, but I would rather process information that is not as regular as the dictionaries, webinaries, and sources that I have been working on over the summer. I’ve learned that I’m also very much into researching different ways to tackle a problem and debating with someone the pros and cons of implementing within a system.

2016-09-05 18.17.08My advice to anyone who would be interested in working at PanLex is to be really interested in the work that they are doing, and to take initiative to research and bring up projects that you would like to do with the staff. The staff is very open to different views and ideas as long as you can support why this would be more beneficial than the current way. Furthermore, take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that come with working for a branch of a larger parent organization, and the fact that you are in San Francisco. I went to talks that were held by the Long Now Foundation, including one on Quantum Computing and the Rosetta Project, and have gone to different conferences, such as IMUG, with PanLex. As for the field, at some times, the work will be tedious, and others you will be trying to debug a problem for hours without making progress. Take it one step at a time, and try to set mini goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask someone to look over your code, and most of all, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being in a different mindset, and looking at the problem with fresh eyes.

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I think that the projects that I’m most proud of are the ones that focused on lesser-known, endangered, or extinct languages because I feel that by adding them to our database, we are doing our part in trying to fight against language death and proving a resource for languages that usually don’t get funding for translational programs such as Google translate. My favorite moments included when our database could translate something that Google translated as question marks, and I added linguistic data of a language into our database that was not supported by Google.

Sooyoung ’18

Kids and Cataloging: Where did the Summer Go?

It’s mid-August and my internship at the Swedish American Museum has finally drawn to a close. I can’t help but wonder where the summer went! Even though I learned and accomplished so much, I still feel like there’s so much more to learn, somehow. I set out this summer hoping to advance my research skills, get practical experience that will help me become a historian in the future and to hopefully connect with my past by learning what it was like for my Swedish ancestors. To an extent, I accomplished all of this. I researched for a practical purpose – every now and then, a guest will come through the museum and recognize someone in the old photos on display; usually, the only information we have in regards to the photo is whatever the donor supplied, which isn’t always enlightening. On several occasions, I helped to dig to see if anything more could be found. There was also a lot of research involved with several projects for the children’s museum such as a self-guided tour. This last was probably the most beneficial for my career goals. In the beginning, I had hoped that observing guests in the museum, taking note of the most common questions, would help me better direct and focus any writing I would do for my audience; this was something I really had to work on when creating the tour guide. As for my personal goal involving my own Swedish heritage, while I gained knowledge on Swedish culture, I can’t say it was the right time frame to relate to my immigrant grandparents.

It was weird closing down my work station for the last time... Although I won't miss that loading screen!
It was weird closing down my work station for the last time… Although I won’t miss that loading screen!

While a curator’s job and a historian’s job are quite different, I can say that I now have a different view on the final product of a historian’s work, as both rely heavily on the presentation of the facts learned- historians via writing and curators via the display of artifacts.

If you ever find yourself interning at any small to medium sized museum, take into account that it’s not likely to be adequately funded or staffed, so everyone shares the work. Chances are, you’ll end up helping out in the store for a day or preparing crafts for the education department (or doing something like this: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/museuminfo/news/event/pioneer-the-world-day-camp-%E2%80%93-session-i/) instead of working directly with the material and the artifacts. It may not be what you expected, but being shuffled around like that, you learn a lot; it’s up to you how you decide to apply that knowledge.

The children's museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their "passports", but I guess I'll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?
The children’s museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their “passports”, but I guess I’ll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?

I’m rather proud of this project: my supervisor, had received an email from a real estate agent, asking if we could tell her anything about the history of a certain building in another neighborhood. All she provided was an address. Not even knowing what connection this building had to the museum, my supervisor asked me to look into it. Naturally, the building wasn’t in our records, so I turned to Google; I dug and dug, flipping through real estate sites, census records, building codes, anything that came to mind. It wasn’t a particularly famous building, a small music venue, so there wasn’t a whole lot to be said, but after following dozens of links and Google searches, I found out that the architects of the building were a relatively famous Swedish duo (http://rpwrhs.org/w/index.php?title=Michaelsen_%26_Rognstad), known for their work in Chinatown. After finding that connection, researching was a lot easier and I was able to provide a fair bit of information. I guess the reason that moment sticks out for me is because it’s closer to what I was expecting/hoping to do this summer and I enjoyed using and proving my research skills for a practical purpose, outside of school.

 

Finishing Summer at SACHI

Leaving any project is difficult, especially ones worked on exclusively for an entire summer.  It seems like the finished product is rarely what was initially planned. I believe this is because better ideas have organic growth during the maturation of a project. The summer and my internship finished before I knew exactly what was happening.  There were twists and turns, and here I am with a finished project and a head full of knowledge and experiences.

I learned how to use the javascript library D3 (https://d3js.org/) to build my visualization, a standard in the industry, and improved my programming skills in general.  During my internship, SACHI began a reading group to discuss important foundational papers in Human-Computer Interaction and to keep up with the current research being conducted in the field; we would read a paper every week and discuss its contributions to the field and its research methods.  These discussion groups provided me with insight I didn’t plan on receiving.  Analyzing the research methods of other people (especially groundbreaking research) provided me with a strong foundational understanding of the field and its methods.

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”
Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”

This additional understanding, along with the work I completed this summer, has helped me cement my interest and future goals in Human-Computer Interaction and more specifically Information Visualization, as well as helping me plan potential future research of which I wish to be a part.

This summer also helped me through a great deal of self-reflection.  I had never traveled to a foreign country alone, and living in Scotland for three months was a sink or swim exploration into the daily reality of adult living.  While at work I learned the power of persistence (if I don’t fix this bug, nobody else will) and how to work a full day in the lab, I would go home and learn the amazing power of a grocery list before going shopping (I have a problem with impulse shopping when alone).  At the beginning of the summer I was terrified I was unqualified for my position and unqualified to be a functioning adult.  But I did it!  It was difficult, admitting sometimes that I didn’t know what I was doing and asking for help, but that’s universal.  Very few people are experts at everything, and most people are glad to help.

That’s been one of my huge takeaways and something I’d recommend everybody take advantage of no matter their field.  Talk to people! To anybody working in a computer science or any research lab like SACHI:  Ask people about their research.  People are all doing incredible things, but people rarely share their work without prompting.  Now, most people in the lab are working towards publishing for the biggest Human-Computer Interaction conference, CHI (https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/).  I’ve learned so many things just from casual conversation, and in turn, getting feedback from somebody else on my own work is useful when I’m stuck or frustrated.  Sometimes I forgot the big picture can be groundbreaking when I’m stuck on one piece of the puzzle, and that’s how to keep motivated.

To anybody working in research, design, or even just computer science as a field, I would highly suggest exploration in your work.  When there are multiple ways to accomplish a goal, don’t just choose the method that first comes to mind, spend an hour or two (or more), following other trains of thought.  When facing a problem from multiple directions, you get a more clear view of what the solution needs to include.

And so now I’m done.  That in itself feels like an accomplishment.   But even more than that, I’m proud that I get to continue.  The work could still be improved, and that’s the plan.  I hope that my visualization will reach a point that it’s publishable.  This summer was absolutely fantastic, and I’ll not only look back on the memories, but forward to what I can now achieve.

One of the SACHI weekly meetings
One of the SACHI weekly meetings

–Katherine Currier

Post 2: Keeping On At SACHI

For the last month, every conversation that goes on long enough will eventually reach the topic of politics, except rather than American politics, which I’m confident speaking about, these conversations tend to involve British politics. This is in the wake of the recent referendum in which, with a margin of two percent, the UK voted to leave the European Union (I used this to help understand what happened:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887).  The aftermath has been chaotic, and despite my opinions on the topic, the experience has been a crash course for British politics.

These conversations mostly happen over lunch or coffee breaks, during which one person will stand up and ask everybody else in the office if they would like to join for tea or coffee.  The huge group that would then migrate to the kitchen includes people of all different levels in the “hierarchy” from the undergraduate researcher to the post-doc or lecturer.  It was difficult getting used to talking so casually to supervisors, but getting to know everybody has made me more comfortable with my position in the group and I’m not as nervous speaking with the supervisors.

The coffee machine
The coffee machine in its natural habitat

And of course, I work and have my weekly meeting with my supervisor.  Our meetings have progressed since I first started working. What began as brainstorming sessions, taking influence from similar projects like http://mariandoerk.de/edgemaps/demo/, have become more status update sessions and refocusing my direction as I take some form of ownership over the project.  Though, obviously, she has the final say, I’m not worried about bouncing different ideas by her or disagreeing with her.  

Because I work on the project every day, there are occasionally unforeseen issues that come up.  And if these issues are small, I manage them myself according to my own judgement, which is unfortunately occasionally flawed.  I enjoy the weekly meetings for the feedback.  While most of the time the feedback involves smaller tweaks to the work, sometimes we come to the conclusion that I’m going in the wrong direction (such as when I wanted to incorporate a timeline into the visualization).  That was difficult at first, taking a chance and being wrong, but I’ve stopped seeing these ventures as wasted time.

Very rarely are ideas entirely wrong, they’re mostly just inappropriate for the problem I’m solving or the current situation.  I’ve begun to write down most of my ideas for later use or to use for a different project. I’ve come back to some of the first ideas after I hit a wall. Even if I don’t use the exact idea, it puts me back in the mindset I had when I was first coming up with the concept, which is nice when I forget the idea and focus on some tangential part.

Here’s one of the earlier sketch ideas that were scrapped, but later used for parts of other parts of the project.

Sketches

I’ve started to use this “write down” thought process for things outside of work.  Here’s the page for this blog post:

Blog
Very few of these notes made it into this post

 

–Katherine Currier

Future Profession: Working with Cornerstone Church of Boston

I have just begun working with Cornerstone Church of Boston. It has been such an amazing and eventful internship thus far. Already, I have gone to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work with Habitat for Humanity to create homes for families that will impact their communities. We landscaped lawns and yards, and painted walls and doors. Although it was tough and dirty, the reward of seeing people’s lives changing was worth it. I was there for about 3 days and 3 nights, and wound up bonding with my team. With all the work, we also visited a few places in Connecticut in our downtime and ate amazing food. I learned through this small trip that service was not just supposed to be a 9-5, once a year kind of activity, but a sentiment to carry on in our daily life. Whether that be as a person of a faith or not, helping others should be something we as humans should strive for. Relating to my internship, it opened my eyes to see that working in a church ministry setting isn’t just at a local level, but outreaching to communities nearby.

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In terms of getting my feet wet, I would say that it has been fairly easy to get into the swing of things with the staff team. I have attended Cornerstone Church in Boston during my time at Brandeis so I knew the pastors on staff, and I just met the other intern. We attend a weekly meeting on Tuesday and the interns get to see how some decisions are made for the church community, and we also get to see how relationships work between coworkers in a non-cubicle setting. During the second half of the meeting, we discuss our lives and get to know each other more on a personal level. The meetings have really connected me with the pastors and allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with them and with the new environment.

In terms of duty and responsibilities, they have presented a lot of opportunities for me to lead the community and get hands on work to learn what it feels like to be a pastor and leader within the church. I have been given tasks to lead college ministry events, a weekly community group, and also to lead music ministry, also known as worship ministry. I have had experience leading, but I have never had the responsibility of logistics and seeing how these ministries fit into the bigger picture and vision of the church. It has been easier than I expected, but challenging as well because it is a lot more responsibility to handle. Thankfully the pastors have been by my side the whole time training me and giving me constructive criticism to allow me to improve! I cannot wait for what the rest of the internship holds.

Daniel Choi ’18

Photos Library

Week One at SACHI

It had just finished raining when my plane landed at Edinburgh airport in Scotland; the runway was covered in small puddles and the air felt damp with that after rain musk. But the sky was clear and blue and a wonderful signal that my drive to St Andrews would be dry and my luggage wouldn’t get soaked. And that’s when I learned that the Scotland sky is a liar. It can always rain.

But St Andrews is old and beautiful, home to the ruins of a castle and the creatively named University of St Andrews. The university has a long list of titles (the oldest university in Scotland, Prince William attended this university and met Kate here, etc.), but most importantly (or at least most relevant to me and you the reader), they also house the SACHI research group in their School of Computer Science. SACHI is a catchy acronym for St Andrews Computer-Human Interaction, where they perform research into innovative technologies to aid in the daily life of people. Computer-Human Interaction, or HCI, is the “people-person” of computer science; we focus on the applications of developing technology rather than the theories and algorithms behind much of computer science.

This summer I’m working with Dr. Uta Hinrichs on updating the Speculative W@nderverse, an international research project between computer scientists and literary scholars at the University of St Andrews and the University of Calgary. This project explores the potential impact of early science fiction stories on the development of the genre through the use of digital visualization tools. Its focuses on the “Bob Gibson Anthologies of Speculative Fiction,” a unique collection of thousands of sci-fi stories. I’m designing, implementing, and evaluating a novel interactive web visualization to help literary researchers investigate the role of pulp magazines and periodicals within this vast and unique collection.

To summarize, I’m developing a visualization to explore and understand all of these hundreds of anthologies. Information (or data) visualization is the limbo between the intersections of computer science, graphing, statistics, psychology, and design. Robert Kosara explains it more eloquently in his post.

Dr. Hinrichs has been developing the Speculative W@nderverse long before I arrived here; here’s a screenshot of the interactive visualization:initial

 

My work is going to be added to the existing site. Here is a very preliminary exploration of the data that I created in this first week (showing the categories of science fiction themes and each anthology’s inclusion of these themes):

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It certainly fulfills the graph aspect of visualization (and has wonderful colors), but is useless for exploring the data in terms other than the themes of each anthology. But I have two and a half months to go, so I’ll improve my design and software development skills during this time. I’m excited to work alongside experts in the field and become more familiar with research practices in computer science, human-computer interaction, and information visualization. And while I learn from the graduate students and faculty here, I hope to make more personal connections and friends. And hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll learn how to understand the temperature in Celsius.

Katherine Currier ’17

 

 

Kids and Cataloging: My First Weeks at the Swedish American Museum

I’ve already been at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago for two weeks, although it feels like a lot longer! The Swedish American museum is a mid-size museum in Chicago that tries to connect people with their Scandinavian heritage as they educate both children and adults on what it was like to be a Swedish immigrant in the United States, describing Swedish-American culture from the nineteenth century to the present. They operate a children’s museum that aims to detail the difficulties and dreams of people who arrived in Chicago (here’s the website: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/childrensmuseum/). Although it’s called a museum, it’s really more of a playground for the kids- with hands on play, they explore what life was like for a Swedish American in the late nineteenth century. However, the museum doesn’t concentrate on solely the past, as they also endeavor to present modern Swedish-American culture, such as the exhibit currently in the gallery, which is about Scandinavian drinking culture (you can check that out here: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/exhibits/currentexhibit.php).

The Swedish American Museum Brunk Children's Museum
This is the outside of the model stuga, or Swedish farm house, that kids can play inside. There are even smocks and work shirts so the kids can dress up like nineteenth century Swedish kids.

At the museum, I’m a shared intern between the Collections department and the Children’s Museum. My first day, I was dropped head first into my project for the summer in the archives; basically, I’m digitizing records associated with different artifacts. It’s giving me an in depth look at how the cataloguing system at a museum works, which will no doubt be important for my future career as a historian. For the museum itself, though, organization right now is key, as they are in the process of reorganizing the archives. By digitizing these documents, I’m making it far easier to locate forty years worth of information, so that anyone looking can find a description of the artifact itself as well as its history.

When I’m a Children’s Museum intern, I’m actually working on several different projects, such as a revised self-guided tour for adults in the Children’s Museum. Many grown-ups are put off by the sign on the door that says the museum was designed primarily for kids between 6 and 12, even though there’s so much more for people of all ages to learn. I’ve really enjoyed this project because it’s allowed me to explore the Children’s Museum more and get a close look at all the objects that the kids are allowed to handle and play with; it’s helped me build up a cache of facts so I can answer questions by the kids and the parents when I act as a docent. I enjoy this part a lot because it outlines what people are most curious about; since I want to be a historian one day, it’s important for me to know what people are interested in and how they best react to that information so I know how to share what I’ve learned as a researcher.

I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to explore my chosen career field more and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved in my projects throughout the summer, as well as getting to know all the super amazing staff and volunteers at the museum!

The Children's Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.
The Children’s Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.

 

 

Saying GoodBye to Cofradia and the Dominican Republic

As I am writing this post a nostalgic feeling consumes my body. What I learned and experienced exceeded my expectations and goals.  When applying to the World of Work Fellowship, I wrote about my desire to understand better the Afro-Dominican traditions as one of my main goals. I never imagined how immersed I was going to be in the process of learning about it.

Throughout the summer we had seven projects to work on, one of them was the “Escuela de Atabales” in the Romana. During that project we worked together with a Portador de Tradicion, a person in charge of preserving and continuing the traditions in the community, to inaugurate a school that teaches how to play different rhythms of Palos and Gaga as well as its history. It was the first time I visited the Romana. The specific place where the school was build is an impoverished community, which means that it has little or no space for investing in the youth people living there. Therefore, the Escuela de Atabales served as tool not only to pass information about history and tradition but also to organized the youth into something positive. When I first joined the organization I never imagined how impactful the projects I would be working on were to the target communities.

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After spending my summer working with Cofradia I understood that I want my work as an artist to reach beyond a museum or gallery space. I want to share my skills with communities that are underrepresented and with the help of others create spaces for healing and learning throughout different artistic practices. Many of the artists that I met during this summer share their skills with underprivileged people, especially young people. For instance, Camilo Rijo Fulcar who with a group of other musician started giving free music classes in the Conde. Although the lessons were open to everyone they focuzed more on the children who work in the area as boot cleaners. Eventually, this idea turned into an organization call Asoartca, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asoartca/1595308404051068?pnref=lhc.  I found this very inspiring, as I saw the great impact it did on the children. In a system that makes childhood available to only those that can afford it, creating a space for learning, play and community is an essential for our future generation.  

If someone is interested in working with Fundacion Cultural Cofradia or in a field that requires the interaction with people from a range of social class and customs one has to be open and respectful towards people’s believes. You do not have to agree with everything you experience but you have to leave your pride outside the door. At the same time be ready to manage the frustration that comes with trying to reach out to government sites in charge of supporting the advancement of these communities. Other than that be ready to step out of your comfort zone, the Fundacion Cultural Cofradia wants you to learn, explore, and experience everything the the Afro-traditions in the Dominican Republic can offer.

What I am the most proud this summer was my willingness to challenge myself. I traveled to different parts of the country to collect information for the organization. In many instances I thought I was not ready for the job. Then I understood that there is not a special manual to do new things, you just have to bring your knowledge and an open heart and mind to make mistakes and learn from them.

  • Daniela Marquez 17

Traditions that Survive and Inspire

They invited you to dance merengue and eat mangú. Come, consume us, and believe that you are getting the full package. You will leave satisfy and ignorant because what was sold to you as our culture it is only the surface of the richness that exists in the Dominican Republic.

I am not talking about the beaches in Punta Cana but the Gagá of the Hermanos Guillén in Yamasá. A celebration in where the whole community gets together to commemorate the only black San Antonio de Padua. In here people dance, eat, talk and sing but the party really starts when the Gagá arrives.

Gagá, one of the many cultural traditions we enjoy thanks to the ever-going interaction and relationship between DR and Haiti. Just like the Gagá, there are a variety of rich traditions, carried by communities that despite past and current oppositions by the church and some government officials, it breathes in the hearts of those that still practice them.

Unfortunately, these traditions lack the support from governmental sites in charge of investing in the arts and culture of the country. Making it harder to get recognized and survive and get passed to future generations. Fundación Cultural Cofradía is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions in the Dominican Republic. They work closely between the members of the community in charge of keeping these traditions alive and the Ministerio de Cultura, to create programs, events, and workshops aim to maintain and ensure the passage of these traditions to future generations. At the same time these programs becomes a positive and productive outlet to express the youth in these communities.

My responsibilities vary depending the project I am working on, but generally it is a combination of office and fieldwork. As part of the office work I am in charge of keeping in track with the projects set up for the following months. This means researching and communicating with different companies that could facilitate materials for the workshops or schools, keep files organized and develop a new website and plan to get the organization more active in social media. Then, the field work is where I have the most fun. I get to take pictures to of the celebrations to keep it as records so the organization can have material to present to the Ministerio de Cultura for future projects. I travel to different parts of the country to interview people and gather information about their traditions and how we could provide support.

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It is important to point out that on my first week in the organization I was given a series of books and research about the places we would be going to recollect information. I am still flipping the pages and I am grateful to experience with every single part of my senses what I have been reading.

My goal this summer is to acquire a deeper understanding of the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions and communities. I want to learn the ways one can provide visibility to these communities and maintain the traditions alive. Furthermore, I want to expand my artistic knowledge and incorporate new elements to my art practice.

  • Daniela Marquez ’17

Looking back on my time at Tip

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At an event for one of our clothing brands!

After an amazing summer of learning and working, I finished my internship at Tip Comunicación. Friday the 21st was my last day, and as I closed the door I felt a combination of pride, sadness, and excitement.

Pride, because I am so happy with all that I have accomplished this summer. I started my internship with the goal of learning more about the world of Public Relations and whether it was the field I wanted to pursue after graduation next year, and that goal was most certainly met. I am leaving Tip knowing that I want to work in communications after college. I am also proud of how far my writing skills have come. I am now more able to put myself in a brand’s shoes and write with their voice rather than my own. I have a much greater understanding of what Public Relations are and how they work.

Sadness, because I am going to miss going there every day. I learned so much from my coworkers and supervisors, and I wish I could continue to learn even more from them. I am so grateful for the time they put towards helping me grow, and it’s always sad leaving places where you’re treated with respect.

Excitement, because I know I will continue to grow within this field and that this experience was only the beginning of a long path. There is so much more for me to learn and I can’t wait to learn it!

Sin título 5
A beautiful Buenos Aires sunset on one of my days off

Anyone who would be interested in an internship at Tip should a) make sure they speak Spanish 100% fluently, and B) reach out to the organization and ask. To those interested in the world of PR in general: put yourselves out there! Tell everyone you know that you are looking to work in PR and would love an internship. You never know who could be able to help you. You should also go online, research the different agencies, and send out your resume to the ones that appeal to you the most. Join LinkedIn and contact Brandeis alumni.

I am now beginning my senior year, and I am very happy that I am able to bring everything I have learned this summer back to school. I know that having seen a little bit of the real world will enrich my classroom experience so much and allow me to make a more seamless transition into post-college life next year because of it.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at Brandeis and the World of Work program for allowing me to do this internship and get this amazing experience! It is such a helpful and important fellowship, and just another way in which our university is helping us grow and succeed.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

My Final Blog Post

Since completing my internship at AEI, I have had some time to reflect upon my experiences, all I learned, and what my next steps may be. It is surreal to know that my time in DC this summer has come to a close, but I know that I will be back one day. I set out on this adventure to learn all I could, but I had no conception of the breadth of knowledge I would gain—knowledge that is applicable both personally and professionally. I went in with a series of goals, but my primary goal was to learn as much as possible. Therefore, for my final blog post, I’ve highlighted a few of these lessons I have learned. I hope that these lessons may serve as advice to future students planning on interning in this field, and I hope that by recording them, I, too, will remember to live by them.

Lesson 1: See the value in learning outside of your comfort zone.

What I mean by this is simple: When you have the chance to learn something, learn it. It can be totally unrelated to what you want to do, but take the chance and learn for a little while. Ultimately, regardless as to whether or not it ends up being relevant to your career path, it will be another skill in your proverbial tool belt.

For example, one of my co-workers this summer specialized in graphic design, and offered to teach me a few tricks. I accepted skeptically, letting her know that the extent of my knowledge in graphic design was limited to scribbles in Microsoft Paint. A few short weeks later, a vector I designed using Illustrator was featured on AEI’s social media platforms. I was hooked. I even began formatting simple memos in InDesign! Even if I never design another graphic, I am so happy I learned to do something outside of my conventional learning path.

The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument

 

Lesson 2: Make your coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

It is all well and good to be the first one in in the morning, and the last one out at night; however, none of that matters unless you are excelling. One of my fellow interns this summer who had just graduated from college left the office almost daily for job interviews. Although he rarely put in a full day of work, I could see from the way his department treated him that he was a well-respected and valued member of their team. This was because during the time he did spend in the office, the work he did was exceptional: He made his coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

 

I decided to incorporate this observation into my daily work pattern. For example, instead of just updating the website’s home page and sending it off to the editor, I would take the time to edit my work so that the editor had less to fix. Even small moments of effort, such as this one, can add up.

I applied this same logic to larger tasks, as well. For instance, I took the lead on creating AEI’s Instagram account. AEI had, for some time, considered creating an Instagram account; however, the process took more time than my co-workers had, and it required research to develop a solid marketing strategy. I offered to take on the project and within the month our Instagram account was up and running. In doing so, I was able to alleviate a good deal of stress within the department while AEI settled into the new platform.

Lesson 3: Figure out how to do the things that scare you.

This is not just a re-wording of the classic advice “take risks.” To me, figuring out how to do the things that scare you means to make what is scary into something manageable. Flip it around and do what you have to do.

For example, something I am not entirely comfortable with is DC networking events. The awkwardness of mingling is something that I feel will never leave me. I found myself faced with the necessity of figuring out how to make these events manageable. I realized I was most comfortable when I studied up on a ‘default topic’ for the night. This meant that I always had a topic of conversation to fall back upon when I was at a cringe-worthy loss for words (which was often). Usually my ‘default topic’ was some aspect of the host organization or perhaps a Supreme Court case; regardless, it worked like a charm every time.

All you really need to make something scary into something manageable is an understanding of what makes you feel more secure. Sometimes, this can even make the terrifying a little—dare I say it—fun!

 

These three tips represent my best practices and experiences from the summer.  Each of these lessons allowed me to do my best work, from creating an Instagram account to snagging the right business card. As long as I remember to learn outside of my comfort zone, make my coworkers’ jobs’ easier, and figure out how to do what scares me, I think I’ll be fine. I am proud of what I accomplished at AEI in terms of professional development, I am already looking forward to next summer!

 

Margot Grubert ’17

 

 

Summer has ended, but my work at he AGO has just begun!

Although the summer is ending, my internship is not! After the amazing experience I’ve had these last few weeks, I’m grateful, humbled and excited to be able to say that it is not yet over; I will be continuing my internship for the rest of this semester in conjunction with a Brandeis internship seminar.

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It seems it is not yet time to part with my intern badge!

While there is plenty to look forward to, it is crucial (not to mention enjoyable) to retrospectively analyze the crucial changes I have undergone by taking on the challenges that have accompanied this internship. These challenges, ranging from getting a taste of what it is like to be alone and away from home to forcing myself to gather my confidence and approach the inspiring lecturer who, within an hour, changed my outlook on my future career and built my character in a way I could not have foreseen. Looking back at my summer experience at the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I find myself to be an adult, a proud servant of the Commonwealth, and a fervent advocate of self-exploration via internships.

From among the main goals I outlined for myself at the beginning of my internship, I have truly surpassed the most important ones. I originally aspired to “mold myself into a meritorious and ‘civic-ly’ aware adult.” I could not have imagined the extent to which my dedication to civic engagement would solidify during my time in the AGO, but here I stand, a matured version of the person I was at the end of the school year, convinced that my career path would feel empty without some sort of community service which would allow me to benefit the society to which I belong. I hoped to “forge new connections,” and I am now fortunate enough to include a group of talented interns, law students, paralegals, lawyers, officers and financial investigators in my ever-growing network. I realized through my exploration of “the intricacies of my passion for law” that I am most interested in civil rights and anti-discrimination efforts within the context of the law and I know that the next steps I take towards my future will involve the study and promotion of diversification and acceptance. With all of these goals realized, I look forward to expanding my knowledge of myself and the legal world as I return to the office this semester and as I take on future internships.

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A pleasant intern lunch organized by a charismatic and involved lawyer at the Criminal Bureau (I’m the third person from the right!). I’m lucky enough to have these future lawyers in my career network.

https://www.ted.com/talks/verna_myers_how_to_overcome_our_biases_walk_boldly_toward_them?language=en – The AGO organized an event during which dozens of office members watched Vernā Myers’ inspirational TED talk about overcoming subconscious biases and then discussed the video to deepen our understanding of how it applies to us.

I am most proud of my work combating  human trafficking and my new interest in this field, which evolved from my involvement in the Human Trafficking Unit. My extensive involvement in the unit’s developing policy-implementation plan, which spanned almost the entirety of this internship, started with a request that I create a simple excel document and developed into an enriching and layered experience in the art of networking. The creation of the spreadsheet was an opportunity for me to aid the AGO’s Director of Human Trafficking Policy, Programs, and Education, who specialized in a field which I was eager to explore. My scrupulous efforts, paired with a genuine interest in the unique and kind woman I was helping, resulted in a rewarding networking connection which I now cherish. This woman mentored me by taking me to observe meetings with outside organizations, looking out for different events I could attend, and even asking me for input on how to move forward with the implementation of the policy I helped to create. I am both proud of and thankful for the working relationship I now have with her, and I look forward to collaborating with her in the coming months.

http://www.polarisproject.org – A wonderful anti-human trafficking organization which shares many of the same goals of the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division

http://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/hotelindustryfactsheet.pdf – a trusty reference sheet for the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division in its effort to increase human trafficking awareness in the Commonwealth

Thus, my advice to students interested in working in this office is to take this opportunity by the reins and make the most of the resources around them, be it the esteem of others, the unique events and presentations, the work experience, or just the boundless advice of the good, hardworking people of the AGO. In any internship context, including this one, my greatest piece of advice is to balance challenging oneself by stepping outside of one’s comfort zone with being conscious of oneself in one’s work-environment context. Branch out, but don’t seem too haughty; be confident but don’t forget the value of humility. While it is important to be sure of one’s merit, there is no disadvantage to asking and asking again to gain a complete understanding from those who have been doing this way longer than any intern. Remember that being memorable (in a good way) also requires being personable and receptive. This balance has helped me grow from this amazing opportunity in ways which, only three months ago, I did not believe to be possible. Though I am still perfecting this equilibrium and will continue fine-tuning it this semester in this familiar context, it has been my greatest ally and will continue to be in future classroom, recreational, and professional experiences.

Lilly Hecht ’18

At the End of My Internship at GMRI

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GMRI, waterfront view

I am now done with my internship at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and it is an entirely melancholy feeling. It was hard to leave a place that I had spent 40 hours a week at and even more time out of work thinking about. In looking backed, I feel extraordinarily privileged to have had this amazing experience and a great deal of that thanks and appreciation goes to the WOW grant program at the Hiatt Career Center. This experience certainly would have not been possible without them.

Over the course of my 9 weeks at GMRI, I do believe I met my learning goals I outlined months ago as I wrote my application. I learned a great deal about how to use the economic analysis techniques that I was taught in my economics courses at Brandeis to analyze real world data… I even picked up some new skills and programming techniques along the way thanks to the dedication of my supervisor. This internship also gave me the opportunity to experience what working as an environmental1Lobster-boat-with-traps research economist is really like. Throughout the summer, I also became better, little by little, at networking and putting myself out there.

Most importantly, this internship taught be more about myself than I think any course at college could because not only did it clarify for me what my academic interests are but it also taught me what kind of work I want to pursue in my post-Brandeis life. I still want to pursue a career in environmental economics, in Maine ideally, and I know now more than every that in order to be heard and listened to and respected, one must have a graduate degree. But I also learned I cannot be inside all of the time, even doing the things that I like. I need fieldwork; I need some time outside with the things and places I am trying to protect and help in order to maintain a real connection to what I am working on. It is easy to forget the big picture when you spend your days looking at computer screens.

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Students participating in Lab Venture

For future Brandeis students I would certainly recommend checking out the internship opportunities offered annually at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. They not only offer positions in economics, but also in biology and community oriented positions. The people who work there are extremely talented and passionate about what they do. That truly is also the key to securing an internship at GMRI and at other research oriented institutions. Undergraduates tend to not have the research or resume experience that older candidates do, but if you are passionate about the work you want to do, undoubtedly you will find a way to do it.

To close, I must say again what a privilege it was to work at GMRI. I’ve come a long way since I was a 5th grader visiting as part of their educational Lab Venture Program. This summer I was able o help out with lobster and climate research that could have huge economic and environmental implications for my home state, and I am so proud to have helped out, at least in a small way.

  • Rebecca Mitchell ’16

Midpoint Reflections–Writopia Lab, NYC

I write this in front of a large arched window in the New York Public Library (NYPL), St. Agnes branch, looking down at Amsterdam Ave. Until I arrived in NYC close to nine weeks ago, my connection to the NYPL didn’t go past watching PBS’s “Between the Lions” as a child; my primary understanding of streets and avenues came only from short trips into the city where I relied on others to take charge of navigating.

Nine weeks later, I can now walk alone from the 79th Street subway stop to work each day, coffee in hand, feeling the directions intuitively. I also have a New York library card to fuel my subway reading, and travel once a week to an NYPL in the Bronx to help lead free Writopia workshops for kids and teens. Each week, more areas of this enormous city become familiar as I visit them more frequently and form personal connections with them.

Though I still make mistakes with subway transfers and muddle what it means to be Queens-bound or Bronx-bound, express or local (and where is this mythical Van Cortlandt Park, anyways?), I now solve transportation problems fairly quickly, knowing how to navigate the basics of different lines and their connection points. I also have official lunch break traditions on constant rotation–I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the park bench outside of Central Park on 81st and Columbus, paperback book in my lap. Or, I’ll get a ham and cheese croissant and sit at the communal table in Zabar’s, surrounded by elderly ladies. If I’m in a rush, I’ll go for the “P.S. 85” turkey sandwich at the Parisian Deli on Columbus, with a bag of blue Doritos.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but I suddenly find myself at home here, settled into the routine of 9-5 work.

It’s a strange new feeling, being a 19-year old in the “world of work,” yet many of the basic emotions I feel here are similar to how I often feel in college. For starters, I constantly feel some mixture of inspiration and sleepiness, and being in a workshop setting each day requires critical thinking and attentiveness just as classes do. One difference I really appreciate, though, is how much I feel I am directly benefiting the lives of others. Though I of course have ample opportunity at Brandeis to volunteer or give back to the community through my extracurriculars and on-campus job, the basic reasoning behind college is typically to further one’s own life: a student takes classes in order to complete a major, in order to then get a job that ideally helps the student feel fulfilled. Even if that dream job is related to helping others, the student has to get to that point by working hard and focusing on their own studies and goals.

Working at Writopia this summer, one of my goals was to take a break from this college mentality and immerse myself in making a difference in the lives of the children I worked with. What I did not predict is how much of a difference they’ve made in my life, too.

Teaching Writopians in a graphic noveling class
Teaching young Writopians in a graphic noveling class

I came into this internship as an English and Creative Writing double major, with an interest in teaching but more of a passion for generating my own work. Writing has always been a creative outlet that allows me to put elements of my life in perspective, while providing a temporary escape from it. Writing helps me understand myself when I feel my mind is running in an unmanageable number of directions, and is always what I turn to in times of unhappiness.

After many weeks at Writopia, focusing entirely on the work of others, I’ve begun to rethink the role of writing and creativity in my own life. Though I still feel strongly about how much I love it, I realize now that if (realistic thoughts aside) I were to somehow manage to be just a writer for a living, it would not be enough. It is too amazing to help facilitate this process for children and teens–many of whom are experiencing the benefits of creative writing for the very first time–to not continue teaching and inspiring.

The responsibility of helping Writopians express themselves through writing and graphic noveling is something I take seriously, because I know the emotional vulnerability that a child can put into a creative piece, and how beneficial that process can be for their emotional growth and confidence. I want to help them feel safe expressing whatever they want to through their work, and proud of themselves for doing so. My internship at Writopia has not only helped me learn the NYC subway system, explore various NYPL’s, or discover places to get sandwiches–it has taught me that the act of helping another person create a piece of writing or art is just as powerful as, and often more fulfilling than, the act of creating itself.

Through the many lonely, sleepy, and even depressed moments I’ve had this summer living on my own in an often stressful city environment, it is not my own writing that got me through, but working with the campers at Writopia. When I read their amazing writing pieces, laugh with them on a picnic blanket in Central Park, or help them illustrate their imaginative and often downright weird ideas in a graphic novel, I gain inspiration and strength through their fearless, boundless creativity, their insightful comments in workshop, and their discovery of writing and art as a means of self-expression. It is indescribably rewarding to help young people reach their creative goals, big or small, and I find there is beauty and truth to each Writopian’s piece, whether it be about a talking toilet or the death of a sibling. I know now that working with and empowering the next generation of artists and writers is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life–it allows me to feel like a mature member of the “world of work,” but with a sense of humor and emotional awareness that only a young writer can inspire.

Presenting the graphic noveling pieces at the weekly Writopia showcase
Presenting the graphic noveling pieces at the weekly Writopia showcase

ERG: A Reflection

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Three months ago, I began my internship at Eastern Research Group, an environmental consulting company in Lexington, MA.  During my time at ERG, I gained an inside look into environmental consulting work and explored a range of different projects. When I left, I left with a greater understanding of the work, feeling more comfortable being in a professional setting, and having a stronger sense of what role I hope to fill in the future.

I initially came at ERG to learn about the breadth of environmental consulting work, the collaborations between different sectors on large-scale environmental projects, and to see it all in action. I wanted to learn about the various applications, scientific and technological, being used in current environmental initiatives. As an intern, I worked on projects ranging from developing marketing flyers to researching social science. To my surprise, I frequently found myself working in Excel for different purposes. My supervisors also gave me the opportunity to explore a similar program, Access, as well. I learned more about these programs’ various uses and applications – from organizational to mathematical – in this field.

I have always envisioned pursuing a career working towards a more sustainable future, and that has not changed at all. After seeing the different recent and ongoing environmental services and projects at ERG, I feel optimistic and energized about working in this industry. This experience has given me more motivation to attend graduate school as well. When it comes to the nuances of workplace preferences, my experience at ERG reinforced that I enjoy a degree of variability in the workplace and working on a continuum of changing, project-based tasks.  As I mentioned previously, this experience also piqued my interest in learning more about Excel and Access applications, so this is something I plan to explore further.

I highly recommend this type of internship to students who are interested in working in climate change issues and who are studying social science or STEM fields who want hands-on experience with applications in ongoing environmental conservation and climate change adaptation efforts. At ERG, there are engineers, social scientists, economists and many more, collaborating on projects. You will witness the importance of teamwork dynamics as well as the unconventional project-based format of environmental consulting. As I was telling my supervisors, it’s certainly not your 9-to-5 job! You’ll learn about the capabilities and technologies we have to address climate change issues, and you will brush up on the environmental jargon that you don’t learn from taking classes. For students interested in environmental consulting, I recommend exploring the services that ERG offers to get an idea of what roles exist that you can see yourself filling, taking social science or STEM-related courses to lay a groundwork for the type of work you may be exposed to, gaining research experience, and possibly pursuing a post-graduate degree as well.

I am fortunate to have had this fulfilling learning experience at ERG, which I owe to the support of my wonderful ERG supervisors, the WOW program and Hiatt staff. This summer, I am proud of being able to work independently, to approach unfamiliar tasks, and to know to be proactive about asking questions and reaching out for assistance when necessary. I am happy that my work supported a company that supports climate change efforts for a better future. I really appreciated learning about how government, nonprofit and private sectors as well as communities can communicate and work on environmental projects. To me it shows just how wide and interdisciplinary the cause is and that there are so many ways to be a part of it.

An example of a recent project at ERG: ERG supported the EPA in developing their Report on the Environment (ROE) website.

Dora Chi, 16

Finishing up the Summer at the Benson-Henry Institute

This summer, US News ranked Mass General Hospital #1 Hospital in the world. The Psychiatry Department on its own was also ranked #1.

It is hard to believe that my time at the Benson-Henry Institute is coming to a close. It is has been an absolutely incredible summer and I have learned so much in my time at the BHI that it’s hard to put it all into words. I’ll start with the easier part. Working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital this summer has taught me a lot about research. From IRB requirements to spreadsheets to “Note to Files” to the proper way you have to sign any mistakes you make on official documents (one strike through, sign, date!), it has been so exciting to learn about the process of accumulating data, keeping track of it, and learning from it. Similarly, I gained a lot of experience in the clinical world this summer which was an initial and now superseded goal of my internship at the BHI. Though we are a research institution, we also serve as a clinical research institution which means that I interacted with a lot of patients and participants this summer. I met study participants at the Clinical Research Center on the main hospital campus for their appointments and gave them surveys to fill out for our studies related to their stress levels. One of my favorite patient-interaction opportunities was making phone calls for our multiple myeloma study, where I interacted with doctors (who told me if a patient was eligible based on our particular biological criteria), patients, and even some patient family members as I recruited for our study on how the relaxation response can affect those who have a precursor for multiple myeloma (MGUS or SMM).

The two examples listed above are the easy ways to tangibly express how much I took away from my summer at the hospital. However, one other factor that is slightly harder to put into words is the mentorship I received this summer. I am so thankful for all three of the clinical research coordinators (one of them a Brandeis alum!) who trained me this summer not only on the work and studies we were focusing on, but also on a personal level. They gave me incredible advice and wisdom regarding how to join the field of clinical psychology. At the beginning of the summer, I was convinced that after I graduated this May I would immediately start a clinical psychology PhD program. I still want to do that, but I think now that I am much more open to other opportunities as well. Maybe I’ll look for a psychology fellowship to really hone my research interests and skills. Perhaps I’ll take what I learned about stress management here and go abroad for a while to see how mind-body medicine fits into different cultures. Maybe I’ll look for a clinical research coordinator position right here in Boston where I can continue learning before I take the leap and dive in graduate school. Regardless of where I choose to go, I feel much more confident (and less stressed!) about my future as I delve into this field and I could not have done that without the incredible mentorship of the clinical research coordinators at the BHI.

Luckily for me, I’ll be continuing at the Benson-Henry Institute for the school year and I can’t wait to see what more I can learn.

Happy August!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.
This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, At My Midpoint

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Fisheries Humor

In working here at GMRI, I can’t help but admire how much people care about the work that they do here and how much they believe in what they are doing, despite the countless obstacles. And there are many. I mentioned in a previous post about the difficulty of finding good data that is both accessible and trustworthy. I’ve also come to recognize how difficult the work done here is. As a non-profit research and education orientated institute, an unbelievable amount of time has to be dedicated to fundraising to support the work being done here. It can be exhausting constantly applying for grants and seeking out charitable donations, but as the people and their results prove every day, it’s completely worth it.

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Friendly cricket match at the GMRI summer BBQ

(On a side note, check out the trailer for a new documentary highlighting the struggles in today’s fishing industry.untitled

At any rate, my general attitude towards the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the people, and my internship this summer is a combination of awe, admiration, and appreciation. The work that is done from the community side of the organization, promoting and encouraging sustainably harvested seafood, to the research and education side, is all incredibly important. There are over 10 interns this summer, sprinkled throughout the three major departments and despite our large number, the staff here has made it a point to get to know each one of us at special welcome events, meetings, and at GMRI’s annual summer BBQ. I could not be more grateful for such a supportive and friendly work environment and I could also not be more grateful for my fellow interns, especially the economics interns. Not only am I learning a lot from my supervisor, but I am learning a lot from them as well. I’m also so inspired by the passionate people here who have made it their life’s work to support, protect, and educate people about the Gulf of Maine and its invaluable resources. Here is a link to a recent interview conducted by the local NBC affiliate at GMRI. When the local station decided they want to do a piece on the effects of climate change, they immediately contacted us, showcasing what a leader GMRI is in the state of Maine.

This internship opportunity afforded to me by the WOW program has definitely differed from my academic coursework. In typical classes, the syllabus is set, you know the direction that you are going, and in general, you work alone. My work here at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has been very collaborative and taken me in many new and surprising directions. Research has a way of doing that.

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Portland, Maine’s working waterfront

Without a doubt, I am learning a lot from this internship specific to the mechanics of how you analyze datasets, the types of software environmental economists’ use, and how to present your information to make a clear case or recommendation, but I am also learning much more. I’m learning how to network, and I’m becoming I’m learning to become proficient in a much more collaborative group setting where I am not just working with and relying on my fellow economists, but also the expertise of biologists and oceanographers and software engineers. That collaborative skill set is transferable anywhere, back at Brandeis, and to one year from now when I will no longer be a student but an alumni, finding my first job in the ‘real’ world. But most importantly, I am learning what I want to do, and what I want to do is this, environmental economics.

– Rebecca Mitchell ’16

 

Small Army Midseason Review

 

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As I looked at the calendar this week, I was surprised to realize that I had reached the halfway point of my internship at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.  Just like every summer, the weeks have flown by. In the whirlwind of time speeding by, I realize just how far I’ve come—I’ve learned so many new things, met so many new people, and made so many memories along the way—and it’s only the halfway point! With that, I’m going to share how my time as Small Army and Small Army For A Cause has progressed and all of the experiences I’ve had along the way.

Experiences

Small Army does a great job of bringing interns into the mix with our clients. I’ve learned more than I could have imagined working on the different teams assigned to each client.  Performing research for our client Zillion and their platform Zillion Health really opened my eyes to the telehealth industry.  With this breakthrough cloud technology, our era will see a convergence of online cloud platforms that enable us move from the reactive health care system that we all know so well and transition to a much more preventative health care system that helps to keep us healthy each and every day.

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Another client I’ve had the opportunity to become acquainted with is SolidWorks. Based out of our very own city of Waltham, SolidWorks is a 3D “solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software program” It allows “engineers, designers, and other technology professionals…to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life” (Company Info SOLIDWORKS). Their software allows businesses like Astrobotic, a company that “flies hardware systems into space for companies, governments, and universities,” to make space exploration a norm across the globe. Astrobotic plans to make our generation the first to live on the moon. Through SolidWorks’ 3D modeling program, Astrobotic is able able to streamline the process in which it designs and simulates their lunar modules to the point where SolidWorks’ simulations will make it affordable for more people than ever to fly to the moon and beyond (About Astrobotic).

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(Screenshot showing the 3D CAD capabilities offered by SolidWorks via http://3dprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/solidworks-prosthetic-gks-1.jpg)
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(Rendering of the Astrobotic Lunar Polar Prospector Rover Design via http://www.parabolicarc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/polaris_astrobotic.jpg)

While all of these experiences have been eye-opening, the best experience I’ve had thus far at Small Army was being a part of the commercial shoot team for Mass Eye and Ear which took place at the beautiful Artists for Humanity building in Boston. This would normally be a fantastic event for anyone interested in advertising and film, but it was even more fantastic for me as it allowed my world to come full circle. When I was a child at the age of 3, doctors at Mass Eye and Ear performed surgery to remove a rare benign tumor known as a congenital cholesteatoma from my left eardrum.  Not only did the surgery save my ability to hear, but it saved my life as early detection caught the tumor before it could spread. Now 19 years later, I find myself on a team that helped Mass Eye and Ear produce a commercial.

 

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(Inside the set at the Artists for Humanity building for the Mass Eye and Ear commercial shoot)

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(Another set at the Artists for Humanity building for the Mass Eye and Ear commercial shoot)

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(Photo of the camera used for the commercial shoot)
Lastly, since joining Small Army, the main account I have worked on is Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer foundation. A lot has happened since we last spoke as we are now in the final stages of planning the event in order to make it an even bigger success this year. We have been working on all types of event planning and coordination projects including developing this year’s Google Adwords advertisements, developing event apparel and other promotional items, collaborating with our PR team Ring Communications to improve our social media presence along with our brand recognition, working with a company called Mavrck to develop a reward community for our participants, using the MailChimp email platform to send emails to our associates, and many more. Within the next week, the planning and coordination should be almost complete and we will transition into the peak stages of the fundraiser as participants start to order bald caps and apparel, set up their teams, and begin to raise funds.

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Looking Forward

I am looking forward to my last month working for Small Army and Small Army For A Cause. It will be exciting to see how the next few weeks unfold.

Works Cited

“About Astrobotic.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jul. 2015.

“Company Info SOLIDWORKS.” Company Info SOLIDWORKS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jul. 2015.

The midway point

Now that I have completed half of my internship at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), I have a lot to reflect upon. From the lessons I’ve learned to the friends I’ve made, I know that I have already gained so much from this experience. I can’t believe it’s almost coming to an end!

The doors to AEI's building.
The doors to AEI’s building.

When I first came to DC I was scared. The city was so huge and overwhelming, and I knew next to no one. Unlike when I began Brandeis, no one was here to show me the way. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore and even to play tour guide to others. When my family visited me, they were impressed with my knowledge of this city, which at first glance on a map looks like a maze. I have my favorite restaurants and boutiques, and the places where I love to stroll (like Rock Creek Park: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm). I know the shortcuts and the scenic routes. At school, my life revolves around happenings on campus, and my focus seems far narrower; however, living in the middle of the city has allowed me the opportunity to get to know Washington far more intimately. Now, this place feels like my home.

Working at AEI has also become less overwhelming. The interns have really bonded and I’ve made friends that I hope to keep in touch with when we all leave this town. My co-workers are also less intimidating, perhaps as a result of our shared experience of waiting in the lunch line each day. AEI is known for its stellar kitchen, and everyone, including interns, guests, and staff, lines up at noon to wait for the amazing food. As a result, the person in front of you striking up a casual conversation may turn out to be an AEI fellow or even a Senator. After finding myself in that position a number of times, I’m ready for anything. I’ve learned that sometimes even a quick chat can be the foundation of a professional relationship, which may be solidified over coffee or a later meeting. The opportunity to interact with these individuals has been a highlight of my summer experience.

One amazing thing about working at AEI is each department’s willingness to help provide the experience interns are looking for. In addition to mastering my ongoing and day-to-day tasks managing various digital platforms, I wanted to learn more hard skills this summer for personal and professional development. After mentioning this goal to the digital strategy team, one of my co-workers took it upon herself to schedule weekly training sessions with me. So far, she has taught me how to use design tools such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I feel as though I now have a good handle on each of these products. I even designed a vector that AEI is using to promote Arthur Brooks’ new book The Conservative Heart. (See more here from AEI’s Instagram account: https://instagram.com/aei/).

 

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A vector I designed for AEI.

Overall, I am immensely enjoying my summer here in DC and at AEI. I know that I am learning valuable skills, meeting important people, and really taking advantage of my opportunities here. I know that none of this would have been possible if not for the WOW Scholarship, and I think about my gratitude for this program every single day. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

One month into research

I can’t believe it’s already been one month working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital! One of the best parts about this internship is how comprehensive it is in terms of the tasks I get to work on at the Institute and the hospital. At Benson-Henry, we work on tons of different projects and studies all at the same time. Most of our studies center around the body’s reception of the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Right now, we’re working on a study that examines various manifestations of the relaxation response (i.e. meditation or yoga) in healthy individuals who are chronically stressed, a study that tracks the same response in individuals who have a certain susceptibility gene for multiple myeloma, and a study that explores how the relaxation response can affect resident students in medical school. And those are just a few of the projects I am working on! In comparison to some of the research I do at Brandeis and in the classroom, at the BHI I really get to follow experiments all the way through and see all of their different parts come together. Because we’re working on so many projects at once, each project is usually in a different place than the one next to it. That is to say, some studies are in their beginning phases in terms of recruitment, some are in full swing in terms of data collection, others are pushing through data entry, and still others are being analyzed.

One of the best parts about this internship is that I get to combine and manipulate much of what I have learned in my psychology classes at Brandeis in science. For instance, for the chronic stress study, one of the biomedical measures we are collecting is cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in stress in the body, a hormone I have learned about in multiple classes. It’s really interesting to combine what I learned about cortisol in my Biological Basis of Motivation neuroscience class with what I learned about cortisol in my Adolescent psychology class to really see cortisol in action. Similarly, I just started a literature review for the Institute on a new research topic we are starting that will focus on stress and eating disorders. After taking Research Methods and reading multiple research articles, I am thrilled that I can incorporate those classroom lessons in practical psychology in the real world. I am especially enjoying working with the research coordinators at the BHI because they all have such different and unique research interests and have already proven to be great resources for me as I delve into the world of research and clinical psychology.

Below is a video of Dr. Herbert Benson explaining the benefits of the Mind Body Medicine.

The BHI also holds many classes for multiple populations with various focuses. Below is a video compiled by Mass General about stress, teenagers, and the relaxation response.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w12H_U7IXvw

 

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Back to the books!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

ERG: Midpoint

By now I’ve grown comfortable in my adopted corner office with the four pet plants and the picturesque views. After interning at Eastern Research Group for more than a month, I feel more integrated with the work and the people. Since the previous blog post, I’ve helped conduct social science research, built spreadsheets and continued to shadow environmental consulting work. I’ve become more adjusted to the work schedule and grown better about inter-office communication.

I think that, after being in school for so long, it’s easy to forget about the non-stop nature of the world outside the “bubble”. That’s why I believe doing internships is so important; not only is it about gaining insight into the world of work, but it’s about recognizing and preparing for other aspects of the world as well.

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Monthly meeting in Boston – a presentation on renewable energy options

Recently, while at ERG, it occurred to me just how “abnormal” and condensed the academic year is. Since I’ve lived by the academic year for the past 15 years, it’s not easy to imagine what a full calendar year of work really entails mentally and physically, but it’s something I will learn to adjust to when the time comes.

Another comparison I would make is: academic work is more structured and comes in cyclical waves, but being at ERG has shown me that, often times, work can happen on a less predictable and rigid schedule. I’ve seen how work doesn’t necessarily stop after completing a project or leaving the office for the day.

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Notes and visitor cards from the monthly meeting

 

At ERG, I’m learning to become a better communicator. I’m learning to think deeper about the purpose behind my tasks and to not be shy about asking questions and contributing ideas. As a student, I’m admittedly more accustomed to independent projects and assignments, but at ERG I am adjusting my mindset to be more teamwork-oriented.  It feels good to know that my work here ultimately contributes to larger projects and therefore impacts my colleagues and the company. While the pressure is greater, I enjoy not having to worry about achieving a certain letter grade, but rather something that feels more significant and meaningful.

I am also realizing both the limitations of academic applications in the world of work as well as the intersections of skills and knowledge between the world of work and school. For example, it felt rewarding to use my research paper reading experiences from Political Psychology class to conduct social science research for ERG, just as it did when I could understand some of the data I’m working with thanks to a foundation of knowledge built in my Conservation Biology class.

Interning here confirms there are many aspects to the world of work missing from the familiar grind of academic life, and that there are many aspects to environmental consulting that one can only learn or learn best from the job itself. My observations and experiences at ERG have reinforced to me why interning is so critical, and why the WOW program is so valuable to us. As I begin my senior year next month (eep!), I am confident that what I’ve learned here will inform and ease my transition from my work-hard-play-hard student life to my independent, professional life.

Dora Chi, ’16

Halfway through my internship at Tip Comunicación

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“Floralis Genérica” is only a couple of blocks away from Tip. It opens when the sun comes out, and closes when it sets

It has now been a little over a month since I started working at Tip Comunicación, a small PR agency in Buenos Aires. I have had such a good time so far, and I am excited to share a little about my experience with you. This past month has been an amazing learning experience.

First, I assisted at a fashion show for Sweet Victorian, Argentina’s leading swimwear and underwear brand, for the launch of their swimsuit collection. It was so fun! I got to greet some amazing journalists at the door and guide them towards where the other press representatives where gathered, help my boss and coworkers throughout the event, and also watch the show alongside a few Argentinian celebrities.

I also have had the opportunity to ghost-write a few articles to promote our brands and write more press releases. My writing skills have gotten a lot better this past month! I know this will help me so much after college, when I hope to be working full time either in PR or advertising. Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of this past month has been preparing product kits to send out to journalists. We have a new client at Tip called Successo. They produce alfajores: traditional Argentinian candy that consists of two cookies put together by dulce de leche (milk caramel) and usually covered in chocolate. Successo also makes cookies and other types of candy, but alfajores are their specialty. I had to make 93 packages, so by the time I was done I had seen more alfajores than I ever need to, but it was actually quite a relaxing experience. I have been working on my organization skills through this task, which I know will be very useful after my work at Tip is over. Whether I end up in advertising or PR, I will most certainly need to be organized.

Writing for brands has also helped me get out of my “writing comfort zone” and speak in a way that represents the brand I’m trying to promote rather than myself. I know that if I’m writing for an educational institution I must use a somewhat friendly yet mostly serious tone, while if I’m writing for a teen swimwear company I have to take on a younger, bubblier personality. Different vocabulary is also used for the different brands and it is very important to always keep that in mind. Writing a press release or an article in the name of a certain brand is very different from writing my own blog, or posting something on my social media accounts. This internship has provided me with the tools to identify each brand’s personality, target, and “dialect.” My boss is very strict about this and it has made me very aware of the use of each word.

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Just a few of the many, many Successo packages I put together

Being at work is so different from being at school for many reasons. First, there are no grades involved, which means my goals are only to learn as much as possible and to meet my boss’ expectations. Second, there’s a lot more “figuring out” to do on my own. I am told what needs to get done and a few tips on how to do it. I’m always allowed –and expected– to ask questions and get help when necessary, but I am also expected to get things done as well and fast as possible, which sometimes means I have to make my own decisions. I am so lucky to have an amazing boss that gives me the space and tools to work things out on my own and make some mistakes that will help me learn. Of course, she is always there to step in and save the day in case I actually do something wrong, but so far it’s been working out just fine!

Overall it’s been a really exciting month. I’m so glad I have this opportunity this summer and I’m excited for the rest of my internship.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

Midpoint Entry – New Experiences and Development at the MA AGO

 

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My 19th-floor view of the Commonwealth I am serving, including the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House

At the beginning of my internship in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I could not have imagined the extent to which I could be enriched within so little time. Despite the challenges that my novel experience of independence presents, such as budget management, humbling homesickness, and an increased sense of responsibility, these perceived difficulties are only augmenting the growth I am undergoing and I am thankful for this opportunity to learn how to overcome them. My initial apprehension has turned into a sense of pride as the weeks progress and as I am increasingly exposed to valuable information about workplace environments, networking, independence, justice, policy making, career development, the law, and myself.

The numerous projects which I have been assigned so far range from contributing to the office’s implementation game-plan concerning human trafficking policy (my favorite assignment so far) to scanning boxes of grand jury exhibits. I cannot truthfully say that they have all been as fabulous as those depicted in an episode of Law and Order; still, each of them is crucial to the process and fulfilling to complete. The kind and capable troopers, lawyers, paralegals, investigators, etc. who have assigned them to me make sure to explain how my work contributes to the bigger picture and to the eventual execution of justice, which gives me a greater appreciation for my role in the legal process. I do not shirk the seemingly menial jobs, because thorough completion of such tasks is important to the execution of law and also facilitates access to more fascinating projects such as checking bankruptcy dockets for patterns of criminal behavior or reading up on habeas corpus appeals in order to summarize them for the lawyers on the case.

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My own little cubicle

 

In addition to the projects and cases in which I am involved, I am also exposed to unique opportunities for growth and enrichment due to the excellent programs set up for the office’s interns. Ranging from meet-and-greets to mock trials, these events allow the interns to network and to be exposed to the greater structure and goals of Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey’s office. With every event, I sense my networking skills expanding and my dedication to this line of work solidifying, and I know these social skills and passions will weave their way through my interactions with others and through career-defining decisions from this point forward. Already, I am making connections with interns and lawyers from both the criminal bureau and other bureaus in order to acquire some insight about their jobs and the steps they’ve taken to pursue their careers. I now have a better understanding of my options and preferences concerning things like law school (which, as of now, is a definite part of my future) and additional internship possibilities. The exposure I have had to some of AG Healey’s truly inspirational workforce has enlightened me about the configuration and function of the office I am serving as well as about what I would love to explore further, such as civil rights/anti-discrimination work, victim services, and executive work for Attorney Generals like Maura Healey.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/executive/ – I was inspired by the bureau presentations set up for the interns and was especially enriched by the Executive Bureau’s presentation.

Thus, beyond my wildest expectations, I have come to know myself and the world of work I have entered better than I could have expected within just a few weeks. Although I am mostly proud of my work with the Human Trafficking Division, which encompasses my newly developed women’s and gender, civil rights and victim-aid interests the most, I am proud of even my smallest contributions, because serving this Attorney General, this bureau, and this Commonwealth gives me a sense of fulfillment I have never felt before. I eagerly look forward to my last few weeks here.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/hr/transgender-rights-policy.pdf – Maura Healey’s newly introduced transgender rights policy (one of the many testaments to her greatness as a civil rights leader)

 

Lilly Hecht, ’18

My first week at Tip!

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Meli from the production department working by my side

Tomorrow will be the first day of my second week as a Public Relations Intern at Tip Comunicación, a small PR consulting agency in my hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tip was originally focused on lifestyle brands, but has grown to be so much more. Among other things, we work with clothing stores, sports brands, and an international education company. I was very excited about this position, but I had no idea how fun, fast-paced, and hands-on it would actually be. It seems like this “summer” (it’s winter down here in the southern hemisphere) is going to be a really fun one!

My goal for this summer is to learn more about the world of public relations. I’m looking forward to working within the field after graduation, so it’s very important for me to know what I’ll be dealing with. Moreover, I find it really important to come home and work in my city this summer, as I’m getting closer to graduation in 2016 and I need to make the decision to either come back and live here or permanently move to the US after Brandeis.

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Picture I took on my way to work on Friday, about two blocks awa from the office. It was a foggy day!

The office is located in Recoleta, a beautiful neighborhood of our city that also happens to be really close to my house. I walk to work every day and it’s always gorgeous. Even though it’s late fall, the weather’s been amazing (around 20C/68F everyday). The city looks great this time of the year and it’s been great to be able to catch up with my friends and family while also working at such a cool office.

Everyone at the office is so nice and fun to be around, and the jobs we do are extremely interesting. Because it’s such a small company (only five other people work there), I’ve been already gotten the opportunity to write articles and press releases for a few accounts, and I’ve also been doing tons of media research to find journalists and media reps to promote our brands. I’m working as an assistant within the press department, so I get to do a lot of writing and networking with people in the media to help with the positioning of our accounts . While the office is very relaxed, the fact that it’s small means that I’m constantly being supervised, so I’m  working very hard and learning a lot. My boss is super nice but also very tough, which is great because it helps me to improve.

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Chloe, my furriest coworker

In a few weeks, I will be working at a fashion show/summer collection launch for one of the best known swimsuits/underwear brands in the country. There will be so many great journalists, celebrities, and (according to my boss) TONS of amazing food. I will be welcoming the press representatives right before the show, and talking to them later to promote the brand and network while we all enjoy the good food. It’s nice getting to do so many different things and to see what everyone else is doing, which would be a lot harder in a big agency. I’ve only been there a week, and I already feel like I’ve learned so much about the business. I can already tell this will be a really good, enriching experience that will help me in my future career.

Another cool thing about the office is Chloe! She’s a super cute (and super quiet) dog that belongs to one of the agency’s associate directors. It’s easy to forget she’s around sometimes — until you start eating and she starts following you around to get a bite.

Overall I’m extremely happy at Tip and I’m excited for a summer of hard work and a lot of learning.

Mijal Tenenbaum ’16

 

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, My First Week

This summer I am interning at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) located in Portland, Maine. It’s a nonprofit and politically independent research, education, and community outreach organization. GMRI focuses on enhancing science education and literacy amongst the children of the state of Maine through interactive science programs, providing scientific data to inform policy makers on management of the fisheries Gulf of Maine as they experience environmental change, working with fishermen, chefs, and local retailers to encourage and support local, sustainable, and profitable seafood, and finally, strengthening fishing communities along the Gulf. For more information on GMRI’s main goals and programs I highly suggest checking out their website. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically only a couple hundred yards from Casco Bay, GMRI is very connected with its main focus, the Gulf of Maine. As someone who loves the coast, going to work everyday and seeing the sea gulls flying by, the boats moving about, and smelling that salt air just makes the experience all the sweeter.

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Rooftop view from GMRI
View my floor in the facility
View my floor in the facility

I was born and raised in Maine, right on the ocean near Portland. The ocean has always been important to me. The first time I ever came to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, I was in 5th grade, a student visiting on a school field trip shortly after their current facility was built. When I came to Brandeis and became interested in economics, environmental economics in particular; I saw this choice as the perfect way to advocate for the proper stewardship of the places that are so near and dear to my heart. My academic work at Brandeis has definitely prepared me for this internship. Without my professors and the WOW grant program, none of this would be possible.

As one of a team of four economics interns this summer, my primarily responsibility will be analyzing and collecting data relating to the warming of the Gulf of Maine due to climate change. An article from the Boston Globe, published last summer, nicely articulates the struggles my home state, a place very dependent on its natural resources, is having to face. For most of my first week, I analyzed water temperature data gathered from the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and trying to make sense of it all using various software programs. That actually brings me to an important side note. Though it’s just been one week I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle in economic research is finding good and reliable data that is both easily accessible and can be easily merged into larger data sets. That is no small task and often the lack of information makes life difficult. Thankfully, however, websites like NERACOOS and brilliant programmers like those at GMRI are working to make data more accessible to economists and scientists alike. Without good data, you can’t really do much and the positive change you wish to see will have a hard time coming to fruition without anything to back it up.

At any rate, I will be continuing to analyze things like water temperature at various depths form the NERACOOS buoys GMRIaround the Gulf in addition to other data to try and figure out how changing temperatures are not only affecting the health and size of the lobster population but the local and even global sectors of the economy that depend on these unique crustacean. My work will be combined with the work of the three other interns in my division. It’s our goal to have a full report on the economic state of the lobster fishery, domestic and international, keeping in mind the ever increasing effects of climate change by the end of the summer!

My desk for the summer
My desk for the summer

I must say that I am very excited this summer because, for the first time, I have the chance to participate in and impact original research that not only matters to me but to my beloved home state as well. This summer is my chance to apply all of the theories and skills that I’ve learned though all of my economic and environmental studies courses at Brandeis. I want to pursue a career in environmental economics after graduation and perhaps get more involved in research, maybe even go to graduate school. Everyone has been more than welcoming so far this week. GMRI does a great deal to help integrate the ten plus interns across the various departments into the organization and after one week I already feel at home. There are 8 weeks left of my summer internship but I can tell right now that it’ll go by too fast. One week certainly has.

– Rebecca Mitchell ’16

The Small Army of the Advertising World and its Cancer Kicking Pal, Be Bold, Be Bald!

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Last week I started working for the advertising agency Small Army and it’s not-for-profit cancer foundation Small Army For A Cause, which runs the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser each October. It is located in the historic Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and is right across the street from the famous Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Pops. It is in a beautiful area of Boston, and it is only a short walk away from the Prudential Center, Boylston St., and Newbury St.

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(https://goo.gl/maps/0CLTW)

Small Army and Small Army For A Cause are some of the most creative businesses I have ever come into contact with. Small Army may be an ad agency, but they actually consider themselves to be “Storytellers for Confident Brands.”

“We consider ourselves professional storytellers but the industry we reside in is called advertising. We don’t believe advertising works anymore and that building campaigns off of key messages is outdated. We believe that when a person receives over 3,000 messages a day that odds are, they’re not paying attention to you.

 We believe that marketing is about sharing stories and creating relationships. It’s about creating a conversation and arming people with the story about you that resonates with them. As a result, they want to share it with their friends.” (http://smallarmy.net/who-we-are/)

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Small Army For A Cause, which runs the national cancer fundraiser Be Bold, Be Bald! each October, is just as creative. Taking place wherever you are, “participants go bald by boldly wearing a bald cap (or very boldly shaving their head) to honor those who bravely fight cancer and raise money to help fight back.  Participants get sponsored for their bold move, and choose the charity they want their proceeds to benefit.” Since it’s creation in 2009, close to 11,000 people have raised approximately $1 million dollars towards cancer awareness and research.  (http://beboldbebald.org/cmspage/5/event-details)

Heading into my first day, I was very excited. I had previously worked with a few people in the office, CEO Jeff Freedman and Jen Giampaolo, last summer as a marketing consultant for Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser as a part of the JBS Marketing program. With their help along with the help of many Brandeis students and faculty, we established a successful pilot program at the university and raised over $4,000 towards cancer awareness and research. However, this summer I will not only focus on Be Bold, Be Bald!, but I will also focus on many of the advertising agency’s accounts as part of my role as Account Services and Social Media Intern. Some of these accounts include Reebok One, Sage Bank, Blue Hills Bank, Long’s Jewelers, SolidWorks, Direct Tire, GymIt, General Electric, Salonweek, WGBH, Boston Medical Center, and Bugaboo Creek. (Small Army)

I had seen the office a few times before, so I knew how close-knit and friendly the workspace and my fellow coworkers would be. It’s funny though because growing up as a kid during a time when Mad Men was your only source of what ad agencies were like, you would expect a very structured, suit-and-tie workplace that is filled many individual offices and cubicles. You wouldn’t expect a wide-open, quirky workspace filled with a bunch of enthusiastic workers, and not to mention pictures of photo-shopped cat images, crazy memes, and artwork around every corner.

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Small Army – See the Space

Besides the cool office space and work environment, my assignments have been very engaging and interesting. I have worked a lot on the social media, infrastructure, and customer management for Be Bold, Be Bald!, worked with a team to do marketing research for Southern New Hampshire Immediate Care and for the urgent care industry as a whole, and worked with a group to develop a new, innovative website for Blue Hills Bank.   Not only have these assignments been interesting and engaging, but Small Army encourages interns to reach out to members on specific projects in which they might be interested in, join in on client calls, attend internal agency meetings, attend brainstorming sessions for clients, and many more.

I look forward to the rest of my time working at Small Army and hope to transform into one of the many “professional storytellers” at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.

Getting started at Benson-Henry

Hello blogsophere!

This week marks my second week as a research assistant intern at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Benson-Henry Institute  is a clinical psychology institute running out of the psychiatry department at MGH where we focus on health care and research relating to mind body medicine. Specifically, the Benson-Henry Institute studies the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response in the body. The BH not only studies what types of exercises and techniques can elicit the relaxation response (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc), but also how the relaxation response affects our health. Studies published out of the BH have found that the relaxation response can help cancer patients, patients suffering from various mental disorders, and just about everybody else. Some of the published work by the Benson-Henry Institute can be found here.

 

If you Google on Google images, “relaxation response,” this is what comes up. At Benson-Henry, we emphasize the interaction of the mind and the body in health and health care.

There is always a lot going on at BH! We have multiple studies in constant motion, as well as patients interacting with doctors, and lab work through the hospital.

As a research intern, I am lucky enough to get to work with lots of different studies. This week, we are finishing up and organizing data for a 5-year longitudinal study on stress reduction. Next week, I’ll be starting data collection and entry on a study on myeloma and its interaction with the relaxation response.

One of the other great parts about this internship, aside from really getting my hands dirty in the research realm of clinical psychology, is getting to learn about everything else and everyone else who works at MGH. Benson-Henry has wonderful ties with various parts of the hospital, from the psychiatry department to the biomedical labs. For instance, every Thursday, the psychiatry department hosts grand rounds. Though most of the interns assumed this meant walking around the hospital following a doctor, grand rounds is actually one day a week to showcase some of the work and research that simultaneously occurs sometimes behind-the-scenes in the department. Today, we heard from an intern who is about to get his PhD and wrote his dissertation on adolescent depression. He talked about how gender, race, and therapy affect depression trends. As I was walking out of the lecture with another intern from Brandeis, we reflected on how incredible it was that we were able to understand so much of the talk because of the psychology courses we had taken. We knew how his study was formatted, and we were familiar with the tests he used to understand and measure depression, and we felt comfortable asking questions.

Finally, one of the coolest parts about grand rounds is that they all take place in the Ether Dome, the site of the first surgery at Mass General. Below is a picture of the Dome.

Eliana Rosenthal ’16’

ERG: The Beginning

I recently began my internship at Eastern Research Group (ERG), an environmental consulting company headquartered in a woodsy office park in Lexington, MA. Although ERG is headquartered in Lexington, it has seven offices nationwide and coast-to-coast. ERG is made up of approximately 400 employees with a variety of academic backgrounds, from engineering to law, frequently working with and offering expertise to federal agencies on environmental projects. These projects can entail conducting research, assisting with stakeholder outreach, providing technical support and more. Their website offers a summary of past projects!

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ERG in Lexington, MA

I will mainly work from the Lexington location, which means my morning drives begin with the humdrum of I-95 traffic, but end with a long stretch of gorgeous green parkland and the occasional turtle and turkey sighting.

My first project is about revamping ERG’s marketing materials for ecosystem restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico, embattled with environmental challenges stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill and climate change. I will be writing summaries, compiling photos and playing around with formatting for marketing materials for my supervisor to use at a conference later in June. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about ERG’s work as well as environmental efforts in the Gulf coast.

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View from the office window (yes, that’s a volleyball net)

As an intern, I also get to shadow environmental consultants. During my first week, I shadowed a group call between an environmental economist and his team members, who were discussing ways to improve a project about coastal management resources. I also attended a staff meeting during which ERG’s CEO and Founder David Meyers gave a presentation on the company’s business model. It was a very cool way to be introduced to ERG and understand the company’s inner teamwork structure that allows for projects to run smoothly.

Later in the week, I learned about and inputted dummy data for a greenhouse gas emissions calculator tool, which I will be attending the presentation for during the following week in Boston. This nifty tool allows individuals and groups to estimate weekly greenhouse gas contributions during morning commutes. (Sadly, I learned my weekly drives to ERG pump ~80lbs of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.)

Between intern tasks and shadowing, I was routinely reviewing background materials provided by supervisors in addition to doing my own research to gain context for the projects and the industry. I’m working on familiarizing myself with new terminologies and adjusting to different writing styles and work dynamics. So far, I really appreciate how “hands on” the experience is. It blows my mind to be witnessing the development of environmental projects up close and to be around the minds behind them.

As a rising senior, I envision pursuing a career studying environmental problems and solutions and conveying them to the public in some way. Given how wide-ranging environmental issues are, I see myself working with a diverse group of minds, like scientists and lawyers. Therefore, I felt drawn towards the project-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative format of the consulting work at ERG. After my first week, I felt I had learned a lot about ERG and myself as a worker, and I look forward to even more learning in the coming weeks.

– Dora Chi ’16

Promising Beginnings: My First Few Days in the Massachusetts AGO

Few are fortunate enough to be able to say that, during their very first semester of college, they were assigned to an “Introduction to Law” discussion session led by a lively, enthusiastic Assistant Attorney General. Even fewer can say that the following summer, with no prior employment experience whatsoever under their belt, they were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to intern in his office under his guidance as well as that of my supervisors and the rest of their equally kind colleagues in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in Boston. I am thus humbled by this chance to serve the Commonwealth and t­­o explore this prospective career path, and these first two weeks in the office have not disappointed.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/criminal/

I have always been inexplicably drawn to the practice of law. Though my interest in legal issues was already very developed in high school, it naturally became more acute during my two semesters at Brandeis. Thanks to Brandeis’ unique opportunities to pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum, I began to see legal dilemmas through the lens of gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, and all the societally-defined categories which shape how different citizens experience the law, and developed a thirst for developing this more socially aware perspective of common law. For this reason, I could not have been more fortunate for this opportunity to work under this particular Attorney General (AG).

 

Attorney General Maura Healey

I could not be more inspired by the principles upon which AG Maura Healey serves her state. She is invested in many new policies which I admire such as fighting drug addiction with increased treatment and reduced incarceration as well as increasing sex education and women’s rights, but I am most stirred to action by her work in her preceding position as the Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the AGO. Ms. Healey fronted the Commonwealth’s challenge to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, successfully leading the arguments which came to be the first to strike down the law and ensure equal marriage rights for all. I hope to one day emulate Maura Healey’s levelheaded potency when confronting whatever poignant civil rights cases I am faced with as a lawyer.

http://www.maurahealey.com/about

However, for now, I must concentrate on the tasks at hand in my current position, and am thrilled to be doing so. My internship is unique in that I serve not one division of an AGO bureau but rather the entire Criminal Bureau, and I am thus able to collaborate with dozens of lawyers, financial investigators, paralegals, etc. This ensures that I will be able to dabble in many different kinds of projects and determine my passions, strengths and weaknesses both within the field of law and outside it. Everyone I have met has amicably invited me to pop into his or her office any time to ask questions or to just chat, and this opportunity for office-wide connection has exposed me to a wide range of projects. These assignments include researching suspects, unearthing the evidence behind still secret financial scandals, and, most importantly to me, contributing to the state’s human trafficking awareness and training expansion efforts.

In essence, I hope to gain real world, legal experience while working diligently in whatever task is assigned to me in order to serve the office and the Commonwealth to the best of my abilities this summer, and it seems as though, in this friendly, dedicated, hardworking office, that won’t be too hard!

 

One Ashburton Place – Home of the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts AGO

My first week at the American Enterprise Institute

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a not-for-profit think tank that was founded in 1938. Scholars at AEI serve leaders and the public through research and education on several important fronts, including economics, foreign affairs and domestic issues. AEI’s mission is to expand liberty, increase individual opportunity and strengthen free enterprise through debate, reasoned argument and research. AEI’s long history is only one of the many reasons why I was so nervous to walk through the doors on Monday morning.

I have never really been an intern before. I have always had multiple jobs, however, I find the word ‘internship’ particularly nerve-wracking. So, on my walk over, I made sure to take in the sights of D.C. in order to calm my nerves.  I had never been to D.C. before this week and, on that first day, the city felt huge and intimidating. AEI’s office is located at 17th and M Street, which means the walk from my apartment is about 15 minutes long. On my commute, I have found that it is equally fascinating to watch the people as it is to survey the architecture. It seems like every type of person in the world may find him or herself in Washington. There is so much to do here, and I am quite excited by the prospect of it all.

Hanging out at the Mall!
Hanging out at the Mall!

Now that a week has passed, and I have had the opportunity to reflect, the word ‘internship’ seems a little less scary, and the city itself seems a little less big. On that very first day I walked into a room of interns, strangers from across the globe, all filled with trepidation. Over the course of a week, a sense of camaraderie has formed, and the anxiety has faded away as we have settled into our roles.

I attribute a large part of my new-found comfort to the warmth of the digital strategy team. It has only been a week and I have already had training sessions in everything from Photoshop to Google Analytics. I feel as if I am learning real skills that will benefit me in the future. The team’s guidance has also allowed me to get started working on the various digital platforms at AEI. I am sure that the hands-on experience I am gaining will prove invaluable.

The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument

In addition to this training and the work itself that I am happily doing, AEI has already proven to be an amazing place to work. This week alone I was taken to lunch by the digital strategy team and all of AEI attended the Nationals vs. Cubs baseball game—in matching t-shirts, of course! So far, I am having a great time at my internship. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer will have in store.

National vs. Cubs game!
National vs. Cubs game!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

 

ISlide: The Final Chapter

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We had a lot of fun throughout the summer, especially when trying to finish a giant Whoopie Pie (see above via Instagram).

As the hours ticked by on my last day of work at ISlide, I noticed several things running through my mind. The first was relief. I knew that after this day I would be able to go home and see my family and that 45-hour work weeks were a thing of the past (for now at least). The second, however, was sadness. Throughout my time as a summer intern for ISlide, I grew extremely close with my coworkers, my boss, and the company itself, and the day had come where I would be leaving it. I had fallen in love with everything the company stood for, the product, and how we went about our business day in and day out. I started to realize how much I would miss that hot, old, amazing mill. But my time had come to move on and to allow another batch of young, intelligent, hard-working interns to come in and give it everything they had.

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Here is a picture of the slides I had made for a CrossFit Gym in Dallas (via Instagram).

During the months that I worked at ISlide, I had tasks and activities that helped me move towards my learning goals everyday. My main job was in sales. I worked day in and day out trying to add accounts for the company and manage the ones that I was able to sign. This task allowed me to build communication skills, confidence on the phone and in emails, and bolstered my Microsoft Office abilities. On top of that, we all worked very closely with Justin (ISlide’s CEO) in meetings where the topics included real world sales and operations reports, cash flow sheets, and investor decks that were used to pitch the company to outside venture capitalists and angel investors. These activities gave me background on all the things I had learned in the classroom and showed me how they are relevant in the business world. My tasks and activities at ISlide boosted my real-world business experience, taught me new skills and techniques, and showed me what it truly takes to run a successful start-up company.

From this point forward I will be looking to build off of my experience at ISlide. When it comes to my time in the classroom at Brandeis, I will use the experience I have gained and the new facets of business that I have learned to put the material into context as to how it could be important in future jobs. I think that this will allow me to focus more because what I am learning will have more meaning. I will also take my experience beyond to levels that reach outside of the classroom. Without a doubt in my mind, I will put to use the skills I learned at ISlide in my future internships, jobs, applications, and in life in general. I want to learn so much more and what I learned this summer will serve as excellent background knowledge for all of my future endeavors. I would love to explore more and more facets of business. I have experienced the start up world and the positions as a sales rep and I loved it. However, I would also like to look into advertising, marketing, and finance. These three things are experiences that I would like to take on in the future so that my knowledge can become as well-rounded as possible.

If I were to advise a future intern at ISlide or one in the sales/business field in general, I would tell them one thing: work hard. Work harder than you think you should. Don’t go into this internship thinking you have good work ethic; look to improve it. When I arrived at ISlide, I thought that I had top-notch work ethic, but then I watched Justin day in and day out. He is so diligent and so passionate and is willing to put in the hours for his company, for his child, so to speak. This rubbed off on me and before I knew it the nine hour days were flying by, I was working on emails when I got home from work, and I was thinking about ISlide all the time. The fact that I pushed myself to new limits when it came to my work ethic allowed me to experience success, and there is no better feeling than when the grind pays off. Here is a link to the website of an MMA apparel brand that I signed. I advise to work your tail off because in the end, it will make it exponentially more rewarding and you will be proud of the body of work you put together.

I loved my time at ISlide and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was an amazing summer, I learned more than I could have ever expected to, and it was a ride that I will never forget. Here is the “Meet the Interns” video that one of my fellow interns made about our summer with ISlide.

-Max Hart

LAVA BEAR Conclusion

My internship has come to a close! Unlike in my other posts, I feel at a loss for words. This experience at Lava Bear was everything I had hoped it would be. In my exit interview, I pretty much delivered heaps upon heaps of effusive praise. Lava Bear is a great company – it was sheer serendipity that this place was perfect for me. The last few days have been rough, acclimating to the responsibilities of “real life” and accepting that my time in Los Angeles has come to a close (or at least a hiatus).

The viewof Lava Bear through the garage
The view of Lava Bear through the garage

Spending these last few days reflecting, I feel that I accomplished my many goals. I now know that I could happily live in LA. I now know that I could work in development. I now know that I could read scripts for a living. This summer was not necessarily revelatory (it was too lifelike for that) but it was an incredibly important step in my career. I now know that I want to learn more about film budgeting and the Massachusetts Film Commission (potential future internship site?). I have developed a deeper love of screenwriting that I cannot really expound upon; again, my confidentiality agreement heeds, but I must say that one of the highlights of my summer was sorting through tens of fascinating and individualistic scripts that I cannot tell you about.

I was just discussing with a friend whether I thought reading such a dense volume of scripts improved my writing. While I don’t think it stoked my creative side, I feel my analytical work will be much stronger now. My wit is definitely more acerbic, that’s for sure! I will definitely be able to apply these skills during my final year at Brandeis. On the way out, one of the higher-ups told me I should start a blog. What a thought! I discussed with my coworkers the possibility of moving out here; all of them seemed willing (even eager) to help me locate a job. Writing thank-you notes was easy. I feel blessed and happy that I was able to make this dream a reality (with the help of others). Moreover, I made contact with a bevy of independent artists in the community. The friends I have made in California have been wonderful. I feel satisfied with the networking I did, and furthermore, I believe I developed my skills in networking.

I walked past this street art every day on the day to work
I walked past this street art every day on the day to work

My thoughts on film have shifted, particularly my thoughts on screenwriting. I feel pretty confident that I could work various vocations, from a suit to a creative. Now I have this year to make some decisions about the niche I want to occupy. Thanks to the WOW, I feel certain that I could compete in this landscape. I encourage anyone looking to work in film to simply start networking immediately. Networking is vital and you cannot make film without the assistance of others. That is what I love about film art, that it requires collaboration. I took particular joy in showing the work of Brandeis Television, a club I’m on the E-board of, to my employers and artistic friends. This is also not a shill, but I strongly recommend taking advantage of the resources the Hiatt Career Center has to offer. I used Hiatt offices to conduct my multiple phone interviews, have my resume checked, and the advice of my Hiatt liaison has been vital throughout the process. Keep working, keep pushing, because really, what else is there to life besides kindness and art-making?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, my intermittent Carriemoments. Bonne chance, Brandesians and future WOW’ers!

-Alex Weick, Brandeis 2015

ioby Recap

After finishing my internship I feel a distinct sense of accomplishment in more ways than I imagined. As I have written in previous blogs, I have learned so much that I can take back to the class room. At Brandeis I have created an IIM around Urban Studies. Over the course of my internship I conducted over 40 interviews of community leaders that have used ioby to help create the change they want in their own neighborhoods. These interviews have given me insight into what needs community members have from their community. It also has shown me many different ways that people go about ensuring that their neighborhoods are healthy and vibrant. I have saved all of the research that I have done and may use it for a project some time this year.

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While I did expect to have an enriching academic experience, I also got to meet and work with talented and passionate people. It was really awesome working directly underneath the co-founders of the organization because I not only learned how the organization functions in the present but I also learned about how the organization has changed and grown. These relationships will definitely help me as I enter into the workforce.

I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone that is interested. While it was not a very established program like other internship opportunities, It did allow me to get real hands on experience. As a senior this internship has given me a better idea of what working a 9-5. It has also helped me narrow down what I want to be getting from a job that I might take after this school year. I think that it was really helpful to have personal interaction with the leaders of the organization. If anyone is looking into working for ioby I would recommend investing in relationships with the co-founders. They were not only hardworking but also very willing to talk about their experience. We discussed topics ranging from grad school to the process of starting a non-profit.

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I am so grateful that I have had this important opportunity. It has not only taught me so much but also made me feel productive throughout the summer. I hope to find a job next year that will be as rewarding as working for ioby this summer.

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Josh Berman ’15

Bridging my experience at Project Healthcare with my career path

 

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Project Healthcare volunteers bid farewell to Bellevue Hospital Center

As a project healthcare (PHC) volunteer, about 90 percent of my time was spent in the Emergency Department (ED), which consists of the Adult Emergency Services, the Pediatric Emergency Services, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Ward or the Trauma ICU. In the ED, my responsibilities included, but were not limited to, doing EKGs, making stretchers, transporting patients, and being a patient advocate, which included making phone calls on behalf of patients and monitoring length of patient stay. I also had the incredible opportunity to observe surgeries in the OR and shadow doctors with various specialties. With the endless opportunities to learn and an unparallel experience for someone who wants to go into the medical field, I not only reached the goals I set for myself at the inception of PHC, but also surpass those goals and grow in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.

In shadowing doctors ranging from neurologists, gynecologists, surgeons, internists, and many more, I achieved my career goal of learning the ins and outs of daily hospital operations and the day-to-day life of being a doctor. In observing procedures including lumbar punctures, sutures, a craniotomy, etc, I achieved my academic goal of paralleling my experience with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis. Learning about the anatomy of the human body or the physiological ways in which parts of the body function is one thing, but actually witnessing doctors using this knowledge to save lives is something completely different.

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I and other PHC interns in front of the historic Bellevue Hospital gates

When I set my final goal, my personal goal, at the beginning of the program, I couldn’t have predicted how far I’d transcend that goal by simply being in the ED and interacting with patients. My personal goal was to improve my day-to-day interactions with people regardless of their mental health or medical status. With Bellevue’s diverse patient population ranging from homeless people and prisoners to people from all socio-economic backgrounds, I learned to become effective in communicating mainly by being attentive and learning how to listen without being dismissive of people’s ideas, thoughts and feelings. In retrospect, when I think about how, towards the end of PHC, I could simply walk into the ED and deduce from a look on a patient’s face, what his or her pain and/or comfort level was and help them get a nurse’s attention, I now know that I helped to make patients’ experience in the ED more pleasant.

My next steps, after PHC, are to continue to build on the skills I’ve developed and continue to stay on the path to becoming a physician. At Brandeis University, I will continue to take classes that will not only fulfill the pre-med requirements I need to complete before applying to medical school, but also give me more of an in-depth explanation and a comprehensive understanding of some of the procedures I was fortunate to observe over the summer. The human body is fascinating machinery and I still have a lot to learn about how that machine operates. I will also look for and take advantages of opportunities to gain more clinical experience in a hospital setting. To anyone who is interested in interning with Project Healthcare or anyone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, my advice is to seize every opportunity to learn, and remember that no question is a stupid question. Physicians aren’t the only people you can learn from; talk to nurses, physician assistants, patient care technicians, and anyone who is willing to teach you. You will get out of your internship almost as much as you put into it, so work hard, even when no one is looking, and take advantage of opportunities to network and gain advice from people in your field of interest.

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One of my final moments with other PHC interns at Bellevue Hospital.

See you later BR Guest

Having completed my internship and having time to reflect, I can see I have met all goals originally set at the beginning of this experience. As previously discussed in my blogs, the educational, workplace, and personal goals I set I have achieved. I learned how to apply my psychology and business knowledge to the world of Human Resources, was able to experience HR in full capacity, and lastly was able to learn about the restaurant industry from the corporate perspective. Moreover, I have learned and experienced more than I could even imagine. For example, through completing the internship project, I was able to learn all about my specific field as well as others in corporate and the restaurant industry in general. For the project, we had to create a new restaurant concept and create a PowerPoint (presented in front of the CEO), explaining all the steps it would take to open the restaurant. To get all the information, the other interns and I had to meet with many different directors and employees to learn every step in creating a restaurant. After completion, I truly understand the ins and outs of the restaurant industry and hospitality.

Interns restaurant pitch
Interns restaurant pitch
Mock Menu
Mock Menu
Timeline to opening day
Timeline to opening day

After learning so much already, I am hungry for more. I want to continue to learn about Human Resources and see what the field is like outside of the restaurant group. The restaurant industry is fast paced which includes a lot of turnover, so I am curious what Human Resources looks like from a different industry. Also, within BR Guest itself, I would want to experience a day-in-the-life of a Director of Operations (this is the person who directly oversees the restaurant). I loved the industry I was in and would love to explore more within the company.

For any student who is interested in an internship at BR Guest, I would advise them to DEFINITELY apply! My experience was amazing with this company and I hope to work with them again in the future. I would advise applicants to put yourself out there and to be passionate, open-minded, and eager to learn. For those students intrigued with the restaurant hospitality industry I would let them know that being personable is a must. You are meeting with people every day and must be comfortable with public speaking. You must be flexible due to the fast paced environment, something can come up at any second. The industry is a challenge but it is manageable.

I am so thankful for WOW letting me complete this experience because it helped me understand more about what I want to do in the future as well as more about myself. This is an experience I will never forget!

Farewell Blog

My internship finally came to an end. My main goal for this summer was to figure out whether I want to be in industry or academia. During the summer, I worked hard to figure this out by getting myself involved in data analysis, proposals, and business meetings. Since I only have one more year at Brandeis, I plan to build on this experience as much as I can. I now know that I plan to pursue my career in industry. I plan to use my network to explore the industry and figure out what I’m truly passionate about.

 

This internship taught me something I already knew, but never really paused to think about: Don’t waste your 20s making money, but find your passion and spend the rest of your life doing your passion. Now, I want to learn more about my passion. What is it about industry and science that I love? Where do I learn the most? What exactly keeps me up late at night and is this the reason I wake up 5 in the morning to get a head start? I want to spend the rest of my Brandeis experience figuring this out. I owe it to myself and owe it to myself to gain additional experience in what I’m passionate about.

 

For anyone interested in finding a career in industry with science, I have an advice for you: Dive head first and give it all you have. You won’t know if it’s for you unless you do. You have nothing to lose (e.g. no kids, no mortgage, no house, etc) so why not take the risk? If you’re interested in Innerscope Research, I have the same advice: Give it all you have. It is not the ONLY firm to work for that has uses science in industry however, it is a good one to give a try.

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Alicia Park, ’15

 

Last Week at the McAllister Lab

Another summer done at the McAllister Lab! My experience at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School was absolutely amazing, and this summer was the best out of all of my previous summers there. This summer, I practiced and learned many wet-lab techniques. Additionally, I  participated in multiple journal clubs where members of my lab met to discuss the results of other scientists that do work that is similar to ours. In these journal clubs, we analyzed their results with our lens, and I learned to start questioning the integrity of others’ results alongside my other lab members. I used to accept the data presented by peer-reviewed articles with a sort of blind faith, but I’ve been slowly learning how to question what I read because not all reviewers catch the holes in someone’s research.

2014 Summer Students of the McAllister Lab, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

After working alone all summer without a direct in-lab mentor, I can say that I am now very comfortable with the idea of planning my own experiments and days at work. With all the results that have been generated from the past and this current summer, I have been creating figures that will be used in our upcoming paper. Some of these figures include growth kinetics charts, incidence graphs, microscopy panels, and concentration graphs. I have also learned how to use CellProfiler, a cell image analysis software that was developed at the Broad Institute. It has been particularly helpful in analyzing the microscopy I have done all summer, and the best part is that I can use it to analyze my results at home even though I’m finished with my experiments now. Dr. McAllister and I have had multiple meetings together about how the paper will be laid out, and we are currently maintaining correspondence about its progress. I also am excited to say that some of my results from the summer were novel, so we are now trying to determine where the data will fit inside the paper. I presented my research to the rest of Brigham and Women’s Division of Hematology last Friday and I am relieved that the presentation went well.

Going forward, I plan to take all the skills that I learned from the McAllister Lab with me as I pursue other research endeavors. I have had the privilege of developing an in-depth understanding of research academia through this internship, and I believe that this understanding will be particularly useful in the fall semester when I start as an undergraduate research assistant at one of Brandeis’ neuroscience labs. I think for next summer, it would be interesting to try to find an internship in the field of industry, perhaps at a biotechnology company to see what it’s like to be on the for-profit side of biology instead of the non-profit side. For anyone who is interested in pursuing an internship in research academia, I would first suggest finding a special program for students that put them in mentored research environments. Many colleges and hospitals around the country have these summer research internships, and it is during these summers that students can form long-lasting career networks. After being in a research environment for a whole summer, there is a high possibility of returning for another summer if correspondence is maintained. For researching specifically under the Harvard Medical School umbrella of summer programs, this is a great resource. The program I was originally in (for the first two summers) was the CURE Program of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Overall, I had a wonderful summer. On our last day, Dr. McAllister participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with me and some of our other summer students. We all went out with a “splash” and it was a fun experience! Here is the link to our video: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: McAllister Lab

McAllister Lab and Mullaly Lab at the going-away party of our administrative assistant

Irene Wong, ’17

 

Completion of my NYCSCC Internship

The last day of my New York City Seminar and Conference Center (NYCSCC) internship is a bittersweet day for me. I am happy that I have learned so much at this internship but sad that I will not be working with my coworkers every day.

This summer, I have finished a Financial Analysis project from the very beginning to the very end. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was compiling data on an Excel spreadsheet. Since all of the data was in Excel, I have honed my Excel skills in the 10 weeks at this internship. I have encountered many roadblocks while doing the Financial Analysis project but the support of fellow interns and coworkers has led me to overcome these challenges. At the end of the internship, I presented the Financial Analysis project in a PowerPoint presentation to NYCSCC employees. Although I was nervous when presenting the project, another feeling overcame that: the feeling of accomplishment.

After this internship experience, I will take the analytical skills I honed and apply them to my Brandeis classes. During my junior and senior years at Brandeis, I will be taking Business and Economics classes and will need to use these skills in the class projects and papers.

Following this internship, I want to complete more internships that allow me to focus on developing my skills. While completing the Financial Analysis project, I realized that I am a process-oriented person and enjoy completing tasks from start to finish.

For those of you looking to intern at NYCSCC, I suggest that you attend the Winter NYC CIC fair because NYCSCC is usually at the fair. Before applying to the internship, you should look into the NYCSCC website to get an overview of what NYCSCC is. NYCSCC has internships in both marketing and finance. Having talked to the Marketing intern throughout my internship, I know there is so much you can learn in either area at this small business hospitality company. If you want to get an idea of what the benefits of interning at a small business are, you can check out my small company blog post.

For students interested in the small business hospitality field, make sure that you are a people person. In this field, employees are always dealing with clients and making sure that they are getting the best services possible. Therefore, you should be ready to do the same at this internship.

Interning at NYCSCC has been an enjoyable and memorable learning experience. I have built close connections with NYCSCC employees, and I will keep in touch with them even after the internship.

Me and my fellow interns at NYCSCC

 

Time is flying at Project Happiness!

Time is flying by here in California, and everyday includes a new adventure – whether at the office or just at home. I have familiarized myself with so much about Project Happiness, and every time I come into the office, I enjoy spending the day there more and more. Though my projects change daily, they all revolve around establishing a sustainable business model for the organization. Last week, I worked on the organization’s executive summary, revamping its old format and making it more reflective of our current goals and programs. At this point, very little supervision is required, as I have become very familiar with what we do and what our objectives are. Though it is very nice to have my supervisor a couple feet away for whenever I have questions, it’s also great to have so much independence and a chance to explore the best methods to complete my tasks.

I am so incredibly proud of how much I have come to love Project Happiness and their mission. Helping this wonderful organization has not only given me valuable job market skills, it has also shown me a more positive attitude towards life and its hardships. I hope to be able to carry those skills with me throughout my senior year of college and also the rest of my life. Everyone at the organization is so passionate about what we do, and they truly embody what we stand for.

This summer, I have been participating in an extremely positive work environment, meeting people of extremely diverse professional backgrounds and been allowed a great degree of freedom with my work techniques. I hope to carry all the important lessons I have learned this summer with me as I enter my senior year, start my post-graduation job search, and lead the clubs I participate in at Brandeis. I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer at Project Happiness and can’t wait to see what other skills I will acquire in the remaining few weeks.

The poster for the Project Happiness film, directed by our founder.
The poster for the Project Happiness film, directed by our founder.

 

– Genevieve Oliveira ’15

The Value of Interning at a Small Company

Small companies are great places for summer internships! My experience so far at NYCSCC will help explain why.

One of my WOW learning goals is to network at my internship. While interning at NYCSCC, I met a fellow Brandeis student, Corey Shapiro. Corey is a rising senior and is an intern at a small web development company, Hudson Horizons. When I asked him what his internship duties were, he excitedly explained them to me. One of the projects that he completed involved testing the mobile application of one of Hudson Horizon’s clients. Corey also did research online and found a few potential clients for Hudson Horizons. He said that although there are challenges, his supervisor and his mentor are always there to help him overcome them. When Corey spoke about this support at his internship site, I related it to the intimacy I feel and the guidance I receive at NYCSCC.

Due to the size of NYCSCC, I get to know all my coworkers and can truly collaborate as a team. Furthermore, I get to speak with one of the owners on a weekly basis and have picked up plenty of advice and knowledge based on his experiences. I expect to keep in touch with him and all my coworkers even after my internship ends.

In a small company, I have many internship responsibilities and projects. I have learned to “wear multiple hats” just because there are not enough people to fulfill all of the business functions. Not only am I exploring the company’s finances, I am also helping out in event operations and writing blog posts for the Flatiron Hot! News, a company partnership. As a result of doing a little bit of everything, I am gaining skills that I never thought I would gain this summer.

I have quickly learned that the challenges that small companies face are different from the ones that big companies face. Small companies do not have the same resources as big companies. As an intern, I can provide my coworkers with a fresh, outsider’s perspective.  I offer suggestions on what the company is doing well and what it could do better to maximize its resources.  I feel valuable.  I know that every suggestion I make and every project I do count. By the time my internship ends, I know that I will have an impact on this company.

Both Corey and my experiences show the benefits of interning at small companies. Even though not all small companies come to Brandeis to recruit students, these companies are always looking for interns throughout the year. There are so many opportunities for students to gain knowledge and develop skills at these companies. Students just have to be proactive and look for them.

– Tifani Ng ’16

Corey Shapiro’s internship site

Lava Bear MIDPOINT!

A few days ago we had a staff dinner on a rooftop overlooking Venice boardwalk at the Hotel Irwin. The sunset and vertical slope transformed what is otherwise a dingy, vulgar area into an aesthetic utopia. Enjoying the sunset with my kind coworkers was a joy as I scarfed down (too many) fish tacos. A good friend of mine was visiting and able to attend. A compatriot in weirdness, introducing him to my new professional sphere was exciting. I could see our occupational imaginations merge as my friend (and collaborator) imagined himself working in this lovely city. This is the compelling beauty of Los Angeles, as disparate, global peoples unify in a visual practice as commercial as it is creative. As a favorite song of mine echoed from the well-curated rooftop DJ setup, I celebrated friendship and work, entities slowly but surely melting into one.

20140717_194553My internship supervisor and I. Forgive the glasses, it’s that LA sun.

As a reminder, I am working as a general intern and script-reader at Lava Bear Films in Los Angeles. After many weeks, my experience of script-reading has remained consistent, but my skills have developed. Occasionally coverage can become an echo chamber, but it is comforting to know that my opinions often align with those of my more business-minded coworkers. It’s also fun how a bad script can be great fodder for nuanced (and gleefully literary) critique. I am sometimes reminded of my art-house preferences but I consider that par for the course. Fortunately, there has been an influx of engaging material and assignments in the last few weeks, so my writing has been more chipper. The only downside is that I’ve developed a slight reputation for a critical lens, but people have told me that they respect it.

In that vein, perhaps my most valuable learning experience occurred recently after reading a frustrating script. The plot, the characters, the tone all rubbed me the wrong way. Within 50 pages I knew had serious disdain for the work and I wrote accordingly scathing coverage. I ended up meeting with one of the head-honchos about my coverage; they had felt a kernel of worth was subsumed within the script’s cluster of issues, issues that dominated my personal opinion. Their critique of my coverage produced the most beneficial dialogue I’ve had here. They cited my disdain as valid, but also a factor that foreclosed subtlety when I relied on a negative approach. In retrospect, I completely agree with them. We also discussed generational preferences, a productive exchange for both parties. It was one of those utterly intimidating but beneficial experiences you fall into in life. I could feel my brain resetting as my perspective matured. That one conversation has led me to necessarily re-evaluate my coverage technique and criteria for script quality. I feel very fortunate that the people at Lava Bear take the time to engage me in this way.

For me, the highlight of each week (funny as I think the staff finds them mostly mundane) is the weekly Monday meeting. During them, we evaluate scripts read over the weekend. I can feel my presentation skills improve in these meetings. Pitching, something that terrified me before this summer, now feels accessible and natural. My analytical perception of scripts has shifted radically since I began. In the past I ha arbitrarily referenced box office and saleability, but I now feel genuinely informed. I’ve noticed that I now place a lot more value on concept. I often appreciate a script based on concept or core alone, whereas writing style and conventions usually reigned supreme in my old evaluations. This may come across as a subtle change, but it is paradigm-shifting for me, as a person who engages in critical analysis near-constantly. I look forward to exercising these skills in my filmic endeavors throughout senior year (and beyond!).

I am learning an immense amount, making a lot of progress on my goals. I cannot emphasize enough how expansive this experiential learning has been, compared to my classroom and self-taught knowledge. I’ve been taking meetings with many of my coworkers, more seriously discussing future career options. These choices are daunting (development or production, location, etc.) but these are the serious thoughts I came here to engage. Talking to different members of the staff has given me wide insight: young creative execs paint me pictures of career beginnings, financial overseers explain shareholder meetings and film slates, and industry vets teach me how best to evaluate talent. Comprehensive clarity about my career still eludes me, but I certainly feel much more informed. Witnessing the clockwork of film development has given me confidence that I could work in this field after graduating.

LB

LA has begun to feel less idyllic and more like a simple, exciting city that I am merely inhabiting. Thus I have accomplished my goal of vetting Los Angeles’ viability; thanks to the WOW, I know now that I could happily move here. Some of my lesser goals, of course, have been slightly neglected. Goals of networking have mutated, once I discovered that virtually all connections (beyond the office space) are valuable, but in different ways. I’ve been writing less recreationally, an expected fatigue after reading writing and then writing about writing, all day, every day. My thesis remains a radioactive, untouchable fellow, but that is the reality of a 9-5 job, again, precisely the real-world experience I came here to attain.

In addition to my experiences at Lava Bear, I’ve invested in the local performance art community, gone to a bevy of screenings, and become a regular at a few locales. I’ve not lost sight of fields close to my heart. I’ve even met a few minor idols of mine (I shall keep them anonymous, I don’t ingratiate and tell!). I love the community here. I love the artists, the filmmakers, the writers, the executives, the Lyft drivers, and the people who run the food trucks. Okay, I hate the people who run the 711 next to my apartment, but they also sell gummy sharks, and where else am I going to get them at 2 AM?!

Cheers,

Alex Weick

A little past halfway at HW

For almost two months, I have been interning at Healthy Waltham (HW) promoting healthy eating and learning how nonprofits work. At the onset, my role was mainly teaching children about nutrition and how to cook healthy food; however, most of my time thus far has focused on the inner workings of nonprofit organizations.

My first business card! Feeling official with Healthy Waltham.
My first business card! Feeling official with Healthy Waltham.

Aside from cooking, I wanted to learn more about the community side of public health, nonprofits, and what my own interests are in these areas. I never knew how planning, organizing, or funding worked for nonprofits before this internship. Every organization is different, but just learning one arrangement provides some background for understanding other types. At a Strategic Planning meeting with HW’s board members and staff, I saw how many disciplines come together to not only run HW, but numerous other health-related organizations. There were people from the city counsel, a school principal, and a registered nurse just to name a few of the people involved. Even more surprising to me, many board members and staff present belong to other health-focused groups.

I never imagined how much effort is needed to persuade the public to eat their greens.

I am happy to have learned so much about nonprofits, but so far I am most satisfied with the recent tabling event the Waltham Farmer’s Market. The cooking and nutrition class at the Chill Zone is more challenging than I remember. Frankly, my first class was disheartening. After a couple of those classes, I was anxious about the tabling event. Talking to people, friends or strangers, is difficult to me. Encouraging others to eat healthy foods has proven to be extra challenging. Plus, my mentor Chef Reva would not be there. All of these factors together left me worried and restless about the simple act of tabling.

Luckily, the event turned out better than expected. We gave free samples of Moroccan chard salad topped with roasted chickpeas. Not only were all samples and English recipe cards distributed, but almost everyone said they enjoyed the salad! Speaking with others went smoothly, and help from the other interns and staff made the day really enjoyable. I cannot wait to analyze the data to see if chard sales changed or if the HW website received more traffic after the farmer’s market.

 

L to R: Abbie, Manny, Yuki. Intern teamwork giving away free samples of Moroccan swiss chard salad with roasted chickpeas at Waltham Farmer’s Market. Photo by Maria DiMaggio

The most valuable skill I am developing here is group communication. Everyone says that communication skills are important, but I am now a believer. Knowing how to present ideas and instructions while keeping people engaged is necessary to accomplish any task. Group work with coworkers, some of whom work from various locations, adds a new challenge to traditional group dynamics.

The web of public health becomes clearer as I continue observing and working on various projects. I am unsure where I fit in the realm of public health, but I am looking forward to the rest of my time with HW. There is still much to do, and even more learn.

 

– Yuki Wiland ’15

Project Healthcare Volunteers Host a Health Fair at Bellevue

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Project Healthcare volunteers host a health fair at Bellevue Hospital Center

It is inevitable that without a medical degree, anyone in a hospital will come across terminology they may not understand or see a fascinating case but lack the proper terms to describe the case. Prior to the inception of Project Healthcare (PHC), my goal was to draw parallels between my experiences in the emergency department with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis and become more familiar with medical terminology as well as some of the more common cases seen in the ED.

As we approach the end of the summer, I’m noticing that I have an easier time in the emergency department every shift. I have been keeping track of achieving my goals by always making sure that I have a pen and a paper readily available to take notes on cases and terms I come across. In addition to making sure to ask the doctors, I also do further research on the different diagnoses at home and make sure I have comprehensive understanding.

Me at Health fair
Presenting at the health fair at Bellevue Hospital Center

I am most proud of my recent participation in a health fair held in the lobby of Bellevue Hospital. In groups of 2 or 3, the PHC volunteers were given a health topic to present at the fair. We were responsible for contacting organizations and requesting materials to handout at the health fair, creating an interactive activity as well as completing a multimedia project based on our health topic. My group’s topic was Breast/Cervical Cancer

On the day of the health fair, which was held on July 8th 2014, many people ranging from cancer survivors, staff members from the oncology department at Bellevue, people diagnosed with human papillomavirus (or HPV, which has been shown to cause cervical cancer in women), and uninsured patients with health concerns stopped my group’s table. We provided people with information about the risk factors for breast and cervical cancer, the various tests and vaccinations available to reduce risks (i.e. Pap Smear, Gardasil, Mammograms, etc), and information on where people could go to get free screenings as well cancer services in NYC regardless of insurance status.

As a result of my involvement with Project Healthcare thus far, I have built on and improved my public speaking, organization and collaboration skills. These are skills that I’ve had a chance to put into practice through talking to patients in the emergency department, working with my group to prepare for the health fair, participating in clinical and public health research as well as interacting with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. As I continue on my journey towards becoming a doctor, I will need to speak publically at conferences, organize well to balance my academics with my personal life, and collaborate with my colleagues in research and in patient care, thus I will continue to develop and implement these skills that I am gaining through Project Healthcare.

From left, Maria, Yoon Jon, and Me at the Health fair
(From left) Maria, Yoon Jon, and Me presenting on Breast/Cervical Cancer at the Bellevue health fair

Ama Darkwa, ’16

 

MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH MY TLHRC FELLOWSHIP… Time Flies

Wow… I am more than halfway through my internship experience and I haven’t even realized it! That goes to show how busy and engaged I have been in the work the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is doing this summer. I can honestly say that this internship continues to surprise me because it is satisfying almost ever goal I listed on my WOW application. The one goal that I am most impressed with is the ability to do real work rather than just make copies and fetch coffee. With the TLHRC I am both pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with the amount of work I have been allocated over the past few weeks. For you to understand what I mean I will first explain how the Commission operates. Unfortunately, Human Rights was unfunded during the budget cut, therefore the commission has no funding and has to rely on fellows to keep the commission running. Typically fellows will work for various durations, but the fellow with the year long commitment typically takes the leadership role on the Commission. Thus said, all 4 commission members are treated and respected as full time staffers. Surprisingly our government ID listed us as “Staff” and not “Intern”!!!

Being treated as a staff member is nice because you receive a lot of respect but that is not to say it doesn’t overwhelm you! Although I have been extremely busy, this fellowship has definitely taught me a lot. I found myself continuously challenging my education and awareness on international issues as well as human rights violations. Prior to my fellowship, I was unaware of the human rights crisis in Burma nor did I understand the affect a construction of a dam could cause to multiple nations such as Ethiopia and Kenya. In fact I didn’t even know where some of these countries were on a map! Yet now I am confident when discussing international issues with Congress members and Congressional staffers. It took a few embarrassing tries, but now I can officially say I got the hang of it.

Moreover, I believe I am building networking skills from this internship opportunity. Although I have not been able to benefit to the extent I hoped from networking, I have learned how to better communicate with organizations and individuals on a personal and business level. Through our countless meetings with international organizations and prominent individuals, I have learned to create intriguing questions, start conversations, and constructively figure out how to benefit both parties by taking action to achieve a common goal. Considering the fact that I am a rising junior, networking will definitely be a skill that I will utilize often. In addition, this experience will greatly contribute to my academics because I am starting to realize the correlation between politics and economics that will help me better understand how my IGS and Business major relate. Also, I have recently been in touch with Professor Rosenberger to see how I can apply this internship to my international requirement as well as potentially complete an independent study based off my work with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Although I strive for my future career to be one in business, I am enjoying my experience in DC. The TLHRC has a way of maturing its staffers to become independent, hard working, and invested individuals to international human rights violations. I do admit that I am passionate about the work I am doing and I am very dedicated to serving the international community, however I still do not see myself doing this line of work in the future. Thus far I have made amazing connections to my co-workers as well as people I have encountered through meetings and events. For example, I met an Ethiopian woman in a meeting a long with many others that requested our commission to host a congressional briefing on the human rights crisis in Ethiopia. I quickly agreed to plan this briefing and I have developed great relationships to the panelists I have been working with, as well as Lulit, the women from the meeting. Currently, I am swamped with work trying to plan this briefing so I will update you soon! I hope you all are enjoying your summers just as much as I am enjoying mine. We are almost done so lets keep up the good work and I hope to hear about your experiences as well!

Image 1: My ID! Image 2: Meeting with Laos Officials  Image 3: My co-worker and I on the Capital Subway

IMG_3993unnamed unnamed-1

ISlide: The Midpoint

I’m halfway through my time as a summer intern for ISlide and I can’t believe it. It has been over a month and a half and it feels like just yesterday that I was heading back to Waltham on Friday afternoon after completing my first week. I have truly fallen in love with the company and the product and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here thus far. Working for ISlide has been everything I wanted it to be and more. I have learned skills in multiple different facets of the business world and have started to grasp what it takes to own and run a start-up company. I have been moving towards my learning goals and it’s exciting.

When I first stated my learning goals, I knew I wanted to gain knowledge of the business world and apply skills I had acquired in the classroom. I also wanted to learn more about the world of start-ups. So far I have been working mainly in sales and marketing, but I have had the opportunity to work with operations as well. As a small company, everyone needs to be able to step in and perform if one of the workers is out and I think that I have been able to do that well so far. The broadness of tasks that I have been trusted with has been amazing for getting closer to my learning goals. It has opened doors to how a real world company runs and works and how it does so smoothly. This is something that I never could have learned in a classroom. Our CEO, Justin Kittredge, has been awesome as well. He includes the interns in meetings and values their opinions which is something that you definitely won’t find in many other places. His motivation tactics, work ethic, and dedication to the grind and the company have rubbed off on me and have shown me what it really takes to be successful in an entrepreneurial venture. This is a picture that includes more information on the actual product that we are selling:

ISlide_Mantra_Shoe_Model-Flyer (1)

I have been moving towards my learning goals everyday, all while gaining valuable skills to go along with them.

I have learned a number of new skills while working with ISlide. I will start off in my position as a sales representative. I have learned new selling techniques that have made sealing the deal much easier. I have also learned how to identify more lucrative markets that would be interested in our product. This has done wonders for my ability to add accounts and to bring in customers. This is a link to one of our YouTube videos focusing on our customers and what they have done for ISlide so far. Lastly, I have gained numerous conversational and interpersonal skills. I am extremely comfortable on the phone and feel as though I do a great job in conversations with potential partners. This skill has also been built through working everyday with my co-workers. The interpersonal skills gained by conversing and collaborating with the sales force and other interns will serve me well in the classroom, in group projects, and in future careers. People skills are some of the most important talents to have while working in an office. I have realized what it takes to work as a team and I think that is vital to both the academic and the business world.

Everything that I have learned throughout the first half of the internship has allowed me to achieve a satisfying amount of success. I’m most proud of the fact that I sold more pairs than any one else did in the month of June. I was truly happy to be able to help the company and bring in revenue and I think that speaks to Justin’s motivation techniques. He is very positive and empowering and it felt great to be able to show him that what he was teaching us was working. This is a link to one of the biggest accounts that I have brought in.

The first half of this internship has been amazing. I have learned so much more than I thought I was going to and I have been given the opportunity to make my mark on the company which is all I could have asked for. I even got to meet Mickey Ward!

In a conversation with Justin earlier this week, he asked us what our biggest regret would be if we had to leave on that day. My response was that I would just regret not having more time – more time to learn from such a great mentor, more time to learn the ins and outs of a start-up, and more time to interact with the great people that work at this company. I will definitely be making the most of the rest of my time here at ISlide and I look forward to recapping all the knowledge I have gained!

Halfway Through the Summer at McLean Hospital

This summer has been full of exciting new research at the Behavioral Health Partial Program at McLean Hospital. I have accomplished a lot since the beginning of the summer. My main learning goals consisted of acquiring knowledge about the process behind writing a publishable research article, and I am certainly forming an understanding. I learned how to complete a full literature search and formed a database of all of the articles relevant to our research paper, which will address the predictors of suicidality in patients with psychosis. Based on past research, we chose what predictors to include in our model. Upon doing so, we assessed the chosen factors for significance and found those that relate to suicidal ideation. I learned about the statistics behind the analyses used in our study. Thus, I have already learned how to complete a literature search, hypothesize and formulate a model, and understand statistical analyses. Recently, I completed a rough draft of the introduction and methods section of the paper.

The building to the left is the BHP headquarters.  (http://cdasr.mclean.harvard.edu/index.php/participate/directions)
The building to the left is the BHP headquarters. (http://cdasr.mclean.harvard.edu/index.php/participate/directions)

These have not been the only projects I have completed. I am also working on completing a bigger literature search for a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment that is ongoing, along with nearly completing a visual timeline of BHP measures. I have read widely about CBM, and am continuing to learn more about the effect of this type of treatment on mental health. From the timeline of measures I learned and understood the current and past surveys administered at the BHP. This timeline will also provide comprehensive information about the surveys for other researchers who are using BHP data. The timeline will visually show how long certain surveys were administered to patients and how many patients have completed the surveys. Overall, I have learned a lot about forming a study, analyzing data, and writing drafts. I have also been involved with other studies within the BHP and have gotten the chance to help make data more organized for others to use.

My daily BHP materials.
My daily BHP materials.

I recognize my growth in research knowledge as I read studies for literature searches, which are becoming easier to complete. It has become easier to understand other papers’ rationale and methodology. When starting the rough draft of the paper, I found it easier to write than my past psychology papers.

I am most proud of the work I have completed on the suicidality and psychosis paper, and it is exciting for me to begin the process of drafting and re-writing. It took a lot of work to get everything completed and to begin writing. So far, I feel like I have gained a better understanding of the research process, which will be useful if I am involved in research in the future. I have also gained a sense of what research is like in a treatment setting, which has given me the opportunity to better understand the field I hope to pursue. Besides understanding, I have gained focus and persistence, along with skills in maneuvering SPSS, Excel, BHP databases, and online databases.

Lauryn Garner, ’15

A little more than halfway done interning with the Boston Public Health Commission

It is amazing how quickly this summer has gone by and that I am more than half way done interning with the Boston Public Health Commission.  BPHC’s inspections of Boston public schools is completed for now, so I have been shadowing health inspectors as they conduct inspections in small businesses such as nail and hair salons.  I also went to an emergency health hazard call at a restaurant in Mattapan where a sewage pipe burst in the basement of the building complex, which also affected a neighboring barbershop.  The restaurant’s permit for operation was suspended until the matter was cleared up and they passed a follow-up inspection.  I still find it  interesting to observe the protocol for each inspection, in different types of businesses, that the commission deals with on a day-to-day basis.

In addition to shadowing these inspections, a majority of my work this month was directed towards finding an affordable ventilation system for nail salons that meets the new regulation standards.  Recent regulations put into effect by the commission regarding ventilation in nail salons include an increased outdoor airflow rate and the banning of recycled air within the salons.  These requirements follow those set forth by the International Mechanical Code of 2009 http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/imc/2009/icod_imc_2009_4_par015.htm and must be fulfilled by October of this year.  Most of the salons will have trouble meeting this deadline for financial reasons, as existing ventilation systems that fulfill the requirements are pricey.

Finding appropriate ventilation for the salons is difficult as well because specific requirements pose different challenges.  For example, the zero percent recycled air requirement will make it hard for salons to retain heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, so a system that can fulfill the need of exhausting air without losing heat is ideal, but expensive.  This is why the commission is working with students at Wentworth Institute of Technology on developing an affordable system.  I was tasked with trying to find a mechanical engineer who was familiar with the International Mechanical Code of 2009 and was interested in partnering with the Wentworth students on developing a system. However, none so far have shown a strong interest because the scope of the project is daunting, or because they are unfamiliar with the needs of the nail salons.

Lastly, I have continued to do educational outreach with nail salons and auto body shops through the commission’s Green and Clean program http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/healthy-homes-environment/green-and-clean/Pages/Green-and-Clean.aspx.  This involves going out to new auto body shops throughout Boston to inform them about the program and its benefits, such as free advertising of your business on the commission’s website as being a “green” business.  If a business decides to sign on, then a follow-up walk through is conducted and if enough points are earned, then the business passes.  For auto body shops, points can be made for initiatives like recycling oil or windshield glass, in addition to using a water based primer instead of an oil based one.  Overall, my experience with the commission continues to be personally fulfilling as I feel that I am directly impacting the improvement of public health within the city of Boston, which is a fantastic feeling at the end of each day. I look forward to seeing what project I get involved in next.

IMG_0309IMG_0326To the left is a picture of a typical flammable storage container and it is required that all flammable or volatile chemicals be stored within one, such as the acetone seen in the picture in a nail salon.

To the right is a paint spraying room in an auto body shop.  One of the point based initiatives in the Green and Clean program is that all paint spraying conducted in an auto body shop must take place in one of these regulation spraying rooms with proper ventilation.

-Ben Krause ’15

BR Guest Midpoint

As I am passing the midpoint of this internship I find the event quite bittersweet. Although I am so grateful for all that I have learned and elated that this opportunity came into my life, I am sad to think it is coming to a close. Even though I still have weeks left at the office, I know that they will fly by and before I can blink, this experience will have ended.

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At the start of my internship I set certain goals for myself: academic, career, and personal. As the internship unfolds I can see my initial goals becoming fulfilled. Academically I wanted to apply my psychology and business knowledge to the world of Human Resources. I find on a daily basis I use the skill set I have learned from my courses at Brandeis. Whether conducting an interview and using knowledge from “Personality” to get a sense of a person in 20 minutes from body language and how they talk, from sitting in on a meeting with directors and understanding certain business concepts, my academic career has proven to be a tremendous aid in the corporate world. My career goals were to experience HR in full and to gain experience in the corporate world. As previously described, this internship provides a 360 degree view of all aspects of HR, and as I am progressing in this position, I find myself taking on more responsibilities. I am becoming a self sufficient employee and considered a full member of the Human Resources team.

Leading employees through paperwork at oreintation
Leading employees through paperwork at oreintation

As seen in the photos above, I have moved from simply assisting to leading employees through orientation. I am most proud of that I am learning so much and applying what I learned. I can do tasks myself and am trusted to carry out those important tasks. I am truly taking a leadership role in the internship and taking in and learning everything I possibly can.

As for the personal goals I set, since previously being a hostess I was excited to learn about the restaurant industry from the corporate perspective. Not only am I able to learn about this from a Human Resources stance but as a part of the internship project I get to learn about the restaurant industry from the view of all the departments. From marketing, purchasing, finance, to operations, through this project I am able to see exactly what is necessary to create a functioning and smooth running restaurant and corporation.

I am learning every single day and the skills I am developing I will carry out well after this internship ends. From fine tuning my skill set in Excel to learning other programs and techniques, I will continue to carry out and expand my knowledge throughout the school year. Additionally, this internship undoubtedly is creating a sort of discipline within me that I can apply to my future career at Brandeis. It will cause me to be more professional, more thoughtful, create a schedule, and handle certain tasks that I may have thought overwhelming in the past to something manageable. Commuting alone instills a discipline, getting up early every morning and having what feels like an entire day go by before you even set foot in the office at 9am. This along with all I am learning in the office are tools I will set up in my academic life to become more successful.

Midway through my internship at ioby

I am more than halfway through my internship and I have learned a lot, although sometimes in ways that I did not expect. When I came into my internship I thought that I would mostly learn about cities and the effects that local community projects have on a neighborhood. In my WOW application I wrote that I had a desire to learn about different projects through phone interviews. During my time at ioby I have been tasked with running a follow up survey to learn about the lasting impacts that ioby projects have had on their communities. These calls have been helpful in teaching me about different ideas that people have for their neighborhoods. Learning about creative small scale urban projects will help me continue my academic growth as I pursue my IIM in urban studies and possible career path in urban planning. In addition to this my phone conversations have allowed me to interact with a variety of people across the country that I would otherwise be unable to meet.

Reflecting back on when I started my internship, I initially thought that I had not gained any new skills but after giving it some thought I have realized that growth can sometimes be hard to detect. I feel that this internship has helped me become more comfortable cold calling people on the phone. I feel like I am part of my organization, a concept that takes some getting used to. This feeling of being part of an organization has made it a lot easier to speak for ioby (our policies, mission etc.). This process has been facilitated by attending weekly meetings with the full staff. During these meetings every person shares what they have done last week and what their plans are for the next week. In addition, we practice sharing stories of our project leaders. We have also had the opportunity to ask open questions to the co-founders of the organization.

While I have learned a great deal about urban projects, I did not expect to learn so much about non-profits as a whole. The organization that I am interning for, ioby, is a very small non-profit. At the headquarters there are only 3 full time staff members. I have had the awesome opportunity to work in the same room as everybody in the organization which has given me an interesting perspective as to the daily happenings of a nonprofit organization. I am glad that I have been able to learn so much through my internship and I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks. Bellow I have attached two pictures that are examples of projects that I have been able to learn about through my interviews.

 

Revamp and Rebuild raised money to rebuild a community garden

 

Prenatal Yoga en el Bronx offers bilingual prenatal fitness to low income communities in the Bronx

– Josh Berman ’15

McLab Midpoint

Five weeks after I started working again at the McAllister Lab of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, I am already halfway done with my internship! Since I started, I have been very busy running all different types of experiments. Some tasks that I have been busy doing are immunohistochemistry, protocol optimization, and tissue culture. There have definitely been obstacles along the way, including faulty reagents and cell line contamination, but I have been trying pace myself and take it all with a grain of salt.

After the first week, I started feeling comfortable with working more independently in the lab. I was stressed during that first week, but once I figured out what I needed to do, it felt just like it did last summer when I was working without my mentor. In the past few weeks, I have been planning experiments with my given timetable, and it’s not as scary as I initially thought it would be. Unfortunately, even when I plan well in advance for some experiments, I have stopped by the lab during weekends because of time-sensitive protocols. (The cells don’t take a break!) I have also been receiving a lot of guidance along the way from two other post-doctoral researchers and the current lab manager in terms of guiding me through procedures, so I am extremely grateful for their assistance.

At this moment, I am most proud of my ability to plan out my days so that each are very productive. When I was a summer student here during previous years, there were some occasions where I would have down-time. This summer, I have much less down-time because I am so busy running experiments. I feel that every day that I am here, I am making very good use of my time. With regard to project progression, I generated some data that was inconsistent with previous results. In a mouse experiment with old and young mice bearing breast cancer tumors, I previously found differences in the presence of a certain type of protein. However, this time around, I found that there was no difference. The data was unexpected, but it is very important for us to consider when the paper for the Aging Project gets written. I have been learning new lab skills, such as working with dilutions and graphing tumor kinetics data on Excel. I previously haven’t had much experience with generating figures from a data set, so I am now glad that I am able to do so. I have also learned the importance of analyzing data blindly – that is, reviewing qualitative data as objectively as possible by hiding the different cohorts there are in an experiment. As a future scientist, it will be very important for me to keep this in mind; it is best to generate and review data in this fashion because bias can easily skew interpretation.

Finally, in addition to everything I have been learning and experiencing in the lab, I have been having a great experience outside of all the benchwork. I am definitely building stronger networks by talking more to my other labmates and getting a chance to talk to those who are in other labs. In fact, I had the fortune of having a great conversation with a Brandeis 2012 alum who worked in one of the neighboring labs; he left the state for medical school the week afterwards. And lastly, each year the McAllister Lab has annual social events with the Dr. Robert Weinberg Lab of MIT’s Whitehead Institute, Dr. McAllister’s post-doctoral research affiliation. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Weinberg himself at both the annual Weinberg Picnic and Weinberg Beach Day.

Dr. Sandra McAllister Lab at the annual Dr. Robert Weinberg Picnic
McLab Members at the annual Weinberg Beach Day at Wingaersheek Beach (Gloucester, MA). We named our new friend McCrab!
McLab Members at the annual Weinberg Beach Day at Wingaersheek Beach (Gloucester, MA). We named our new friend McCrab!

Irene Wong, ’17

 

Midpoint at NYC Seminar and Conference Center

Wow. I am already at the midpoint of my internship at NYC Seminar and Conference Center (NYCSCC). My work at NYCSCC has definitely picked up its speed since my first week. I am exploring the finances of a company in a small business hospitality industry and have learned so much already.

I am proud of the Financial Analysis project that I am working on with a fellow intern. One of the project’s goals is to build a financial model that would tell a person how the company is doing financially based on certain factors. In order to complete this project, I am applying my Financial and Managerial Accounting knowledge to analyze the cash flow statements of the company. This is an exhilarating experience for me because I can actually apply the accounting material I have learned at Brandeis to analyze a company’s finances.

Another subdivision of the project is to evaluate the pricing of NYCSCC rooms based on the conclusions I have drawn from my financial analysis. Although I have not reached this point in the project yet, I am keeping this in mind as I am looking at the data I have compiled. I am happy about the progress that I am making so far in this project!

The majority of the work that I am doing for the projects requires the use of Excel. Becoming more familiar with Excel was one of my learning goals for this internship, and I am happy to say that I am building my Excel skills. Honing this skill will help me in future jobs since Excel is one of the most used business softwares among many companies.

Throughout this internship, I am building my analytical skills. When some of the data that I need for the project is missing, I have to figure out what the best method is to back into it, given the data that we have. Since I am dealing with a lot of financial data, I have to sort through it and decide what is relevant and what is not relevant when building the financial model. After compiling and analyzing this data, I draw conclusions to see if there are any noticeable trends or unusual occurrences. This step-by-step analytical skill is preparing me for future business and economics classes at Brandeis, where I envision myself doing projects that involve analytical thinking.

Teamwork is required for the work that I do. When I hit roadblocks in the project, I am grateful to be able to talk about them with a fellow intern, my mentor, and a company owner. They offer advice about ways to solve these challenges, and it feels great to be able to bounce ideas back and forth with each other. The collaboration involved in my intern work is preparing me for the real world. In any future career path that I embark on, I will always have to work in teams on company projects and be able to communicate ideas with other team members.

I am enjoying my experience at NYCSCC and am excited to continue my progress on the projects!

A NYCSCC room
A beautiful view of NYC from NYCSCC

 

Taking work ”home” – the best way possible!

When you leave home at 14 to go to a strange new country, things will most likely not always go according to plan. Whether that is following your heart instead of your brain, or just being too naive and trusting strangers more than you should, you are likely to eventually get yourself in some kind of trouble. The best part about it? It makes you pretty brave, and so incredibly resilient.

How does that relate to my summer internship, you ask? As my 6th year in the United States comes to a close, I find myself in the heart of Silicon Valley for a wonderful experience. I am currently interning at Project Happiness, a research-based nonprofit that empowers people of all ages and backgrounds to choose happier, more meaningful lives. They do so through creating an educational curriculum that is implemented in schools in over 85 countries, films, books and other outlets. Upon being offered this opportunity, I was extremely grateful that I would get to do something that is so dear to my heart – providing people around the world with resources that would lead them to live fulfilling lives – all while using the skills that I have learned in my Economics major.

 

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Since starting my internship two weeks ago, I have worked closely with the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. Part of what we do includes conducting business model analysis for internationally sold products, as well as researching grants and writing up proposals. Through websites like Foundation Directory Online, we have been compiling an extensive list of grants that will be chosen as part of the organization’s new fundraising strategies. Given the small, close-knit nature of the nonprofit, any work conducted is extremely valuable and has great impact on the organization’s future. I love knowing that every day, when I walk into work, I will be doing something that will be of such importance to a place I am already so passionate about! Another great part about interning at Project Happiness includes getting to participate in talks with consultants, partners and other professionals that conduct pro bono work for the organization.

Not only have the social and emotional learning principles that Project Happiness teaches affected me in my workplace, they have also come in handy since arriving in California. A while after arriving, I found out that my housing plans had fallen through and I had no place to go. Naturally, my brain went into flight or fight mode. After the initial nervous system response, I started using all the wonderful concepts I had learned at my workplace to put things into perspective and analyze the situation from a more rational and calm point of view. Eventually, things started coming together.

One of my favorite parts about Brandeis is staffing Alumni Reunion weekend, because I get to meet inspiring, kind, passionate people. This past alumni reunion, I met a couple from California that was on campus for their 50th class reunion. They gave me their contact information and said their doors were always open to the Brandeis family. When I called them and explained my situation, they did not hesitate to host me until I found somewhere to stay. Days like this really show you how amazing it is to be part of this wonderful home we call Brandeis!

This summer, I hope to learn extensively about nonprofit management and the different ways in which business models affect the success of a product. More importantly, I am looking forward to learning the intricacies of the professional world and teamwork. I cannot wait to see what this summer has in store, both on a professional and personal level. Bring it on, California!

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First Week at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Dear all,

I hope you are enjoying your summer adventures! My summer has just begun in our amazing capital. This summer I am interning at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington DC. I applied to this internship because its mission is to promote, defend and advocate for internationally recognized human rights norms. As a Brandeis Bridges Fellow, I am very passionate about international human rights due to the many violations I have witnessed during my recent trip to Israel. Moreover as a Brandeis student, I am proud to work for the TLHRC because this commission was created in honor of the founding Congressional Human Rights Caucus Co-Chairman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust Survivor, who dedicated his congressional career to achieving human rights globally. The TLHRC now works to encourage members of congress to actively engage in human rights matters and to advocate on behalf of individuals or groups of people internationally whose human rights are violated or are in danger of being violated.
In addition to all of the TLHRC’s great work I believe its work is unique because it is a bipartisan commission. This summer I will be working on the Democratic Staff but I still have the opportunity to work very closely with the Republican Staff. The two co-chairmen who are very different individuals but can relate when it comes to their passion for human rights are Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA). I actually found this internship because of Congressman McGovern. Last summer and the fall after my high school graduation I interned for the Congressman’s Worcester and Leominster district offices. Through this internship experience I gained incredible connections to his staff who then helped me find this internship within a few weeks.
Being in DC for the summer is something that is not new to me because growing up I spent a lot of time visiting my cousin in Maryland. However, this time when I got to DC everything just felt different. This time I felt like I wanted to go home and be back in the care of my mom after a long, rigorous year at Brandeis. I think at first I was just nervous to be an “adult” away from home and on my own but surprisingly working at the commission did not intimidate me or scare me.
The first day of my internship was interesting but a mess on my part. I woke up at 6 AM to be sure I was as ready as I could be for our 9 AM meeting time. This is where reading emails correctly comes in handy because we were actually instructed to meet our boss at 10 AM outside of the Ford House Office Building. This is unfortunate because I was looking for the office inside the Ford House Office Building since 8:45. Thank God for smart phones because I was able to re-read the email and wait at the correct spot at 10 AM with my fellow interns. Meeting the other two interns was nice, but this is when I started to get nervous.
I quickly discovered I was the youngest fellow the commission would have and that my fellow interns were both Rangal Fellows with years of international experiences. The Rangal fellowship is a fellowship through the State Department that basically sets each fellow up to become a diplomat. Stan is a recent graduate from Northeastern, and Sara has been working internationally on refugee cases for the past six years. I was glad to know there would be other people sharing the same experience with me this summer regardless of the different stages of our lives.
After getting to know Sara and Stan we soon had our internship orientation. Through this orientation I learned that we would have a unique opportunity because we would be treated as fellows not interns. The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is a bi-partisan and unfunded commission under the Foreign Affairs Committee. This Commission is unfunded due to the budget cut on human rights so it is crucial that the Commission has fellows in order to keep running. Typically TLHRC fellows will stay up to a period of six months with one lead fellow and three other fellows. Thus said, we were expected to quickly jump into work and pick up on what the other fellows left behind.
At first this was difficult because I did not know what I was supposed to do and I felt like wasn’t doing enough. However, by the third day I found myself to be very busy and the day seemed to go by much faster. The one thing I did find difficult was getting used to the 9-5 life in a cubicle. I just kept thinking to myself, “How do people do this for their whole life?” Thankfully at the Commission it is not that bad because we have 2-3 meetings a day, but it will still be a challenge for me to get used to. From this week I have learned a lot about my studies, and myself; but I have also realized that I am not exactly sure if this is the right career path for me. But on the bright side I was able to see Nancy Pelosi at a reception on Tiananmen Square ☺
If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission please visit our webpage. Also if you would like to read up on any of our current briefings or hearings please look into our hearings and briefings tab. One that I suggest you check out is our briefing on the Human Rights and the Escalation of Violence in Sudan . We have many more briefings and hearings coming up this month on the Humanitarian crisis in Iraq, Human Rights violations in Burma, and Human Rights in Haiti. I will keep you posted on both my experience and what I am working on.

 

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My First Week at Boston Children’s Hospital

After spending my last summer swamped in organic chemistry, I decided I needed a summer to test my Brandeis education in the medical world. Having gained a great deal of experience in a lab setting already, I was very interested in expanding that knowledge into a clinical setting. Through my participation in a research trial on female athletes, I had the pleasure of meeting my current supervisor, a physician and clinical researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. She offered me a position as a research intern, helping to continue the work being done towards preventing injuries in female athletes.

 

Ranked as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country, Boston Children’s Hospital has a long-standing history of advancing medicine into the future. Their values include excellence, sensitivity, leadership, and community with a mission of providing quality care, progression in research, and teaching future leaders in pediatric care. Boston Children’s Hospital is not-for-profit so all resources go towards fulfilling and maintaining the values and mission of the hospital. Children’s also is home to the world’s largest research enterprise as leaders in uncovering the cause of diseases from autism to juvenile leukemia. I will be stationed at the Waltham campus with some work being conducted in Boston.

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Along with my supervisor, I also get to work with another sports medicine physician who does a great deal of work with the Boston Ballet and has a strong interest in conducting more research on dancers and the injuries they sustain. With the guidance of both doctors I have begun working on a patient survey that will be used in the hospital to help find patients with high risks for injury. I have also begun the process of gaining International Review Board approval to perform a retrospective chart review on dancers to see if a specific BMI correlates to certain injuries.

 

All of the research I will get to do this summer will help improve the knowledge of the Female Athlete Triad. The Female Athlete Triad is a syndrome that affects the health of active women and girls who participate in sports. The triad is comprised of three distinct and interrelated conditions: Energy Deficiency with or without Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder, Menstrual Problems and weak bones. Many female athletes are affected by this syndrome but the extent to which it affects each individual ranges along a continuum of severity. Menstrual problems include irregular or missed periods. Bone problems can include stress fractures and reduced bone density for an individual’s age and activity level. Being affected by any aspect of the Triad can have detrimental effects on the health of female athletes, so when an athlete presents with multiple afflictions it is important to treat them quickly. Luckily those affected by the Female Athlete Triad can turn their health around by supplying their bodies with enough calories to fuel them while in motion and at rest. However, many female athletes participate in sports where physical aesthetics are a large factor in the competition or are so driven to win that they disregard the potential harm they place on their bodies. For these athletes it is important to introduce guidelines at a young age to prevent and insure that their bodies will never suffer the consequences of the Triad.

female athlete triad

Over the course of the summer I hope to familiarize myself with clinical research. So far I have gotten to see many different angles of the medical field as I am continuously surrounded with doctors, physician assistants, nurses and researchers all working together in different ways to improve the lives of the people they serve. I also hope to take away information that I could use to directly impact my peers in the athletic community, as preventing injury is one of the most important aspects of being an athlete.

BR Guest Hospitality: A “Taste” of Human Resources

BR Guest Hospitality

After finishing my first few weeks at BR Guest Hospitality, I can already determine that Human Resources, as well as the working in a company in the restaurant business was a perfect fit.
First off, how I secured my internship, looking back, is now somewhat humorous. One of my many responsibilities as an HR intern is posting open positions within the company, selecting, interviewing, and finally choosing candidates. Therefore seeing the process from the other side of the table (literally and figuratively) is an opportunity not many procure.
I first found my internship online through a job website. After applying online for the position of HR Intern, I received an email from the corporate recruiter for a phone interview. While on the phone interview I was asked to come into the corporate office for a second interview as well as a “meet and greet” with the Human Resources team. In February, I visited the corporate office and interviewed in person. Lastly, within a few weeks, I was offered the position.
Immediately after meeting the team and hearing more about the position and company, I knew this is how I wanted to spend my summer. Being the only intern in HR gives me the opportunity to learn all the ins and outs of the position. After being a part of the team for a few weeks, I look back and am thrilled that I found this internship.

BR Guest Hospitality, is a restaurant hospitality group that has over 25 restaurants spanning across four states (New York, New Jersey, Florida, Nevada). The corporate headquarters is located in New York on 315 Park Avenue South. Living in New Jersey, I chose to commute to work every day. Learning how to commute is also a great tool that I am learning during this internship. Navigating through the city, learning the subway systems, deciphering port authority, all are things I do everyday. At first, I probably looked like a tourist wandering through the streets of New York, following signs and asking locals where certain places are located. Now, I feel as though I can be considered a local. I laugh looking back at how scared I was to go into the city alone, because now, only after a few weeks, it seems so simple.

As a Human Resources intern I get to see all aspects of HR from recruiting, payroll, new hire orientation, incident reports, terminations, investigations, hiring, open calls, etc. Being the only intern hired for Human Resources provides me with a chance to see HR from all possible sides. The HR team is quite small, amounting to only 4 people: the HR team consists of my manager, two assistants, and myself. Due to the fact that we are a small team we all share a lot of work and are very close. From my very first day they were extremely inviting, welcoming, friendly, and have taught me so much. Getting to be a member of such a remarkable HR team, makes this internship one of a kind. I am a true member of the staff in that I am given responsibilities that a full time staff member would have to complete. I help each member of my team with their day to day tasks as well as having overarching tasks myself. For example, each week we have new hire orientation located at our restaurant, Blue Water Grill.

BLue Water Grill is located in Union Square, it is also the location for our weekly orientations
Blue Water Grill is located in Union Square, it is also the location for our weekly orientations

At orientation, at first, I was solely responsible for helping in organizing paperwork, checking IDs, etc. However, now, I help lead the orientation with my other team members. By the end of my internship, I will lead an entire orientation by myself.

I have learned so much already and cannot wait to gain more knowledge about the field of HR as well as being a restaurant hospitality group. I am learning every day and expect to keep learning. This internship was a way for me to test the waters in the field of HR, and already I can see that this may be a serious career path for me in the future.

 

This is our Blue Fin Restaurant, one of our largest properties, located in Times Square.
This is our Blue Fin Restaurant, one of our largest properties, located in Times Square.

LAVA BEAR Week One!

This is Alex Weick touching down from Lava Bear Films in Los Angeles! More specifically Culver City: the film company where I am working this summer is couched in a creative adaptive reuse project, a “campus,” where the plants are deep green and the food trucks are sumptuous. Lava Bear Films is a production and film financing company.

I have various internship responsibilities, but my predominant obligation is to do Script Coverage. Coverage is when you write a synopsis of a script and give your feedback, suggesting whether it be produced, pursued, or thrown in the trash. The ideal is to separate the wheat from the chaff so that higher-ups don’t have to bother with the subpar work agents submit. I pride myself on being both a benevolent giver of constructive criticism and a vicious critic who eviscerates soulful, sentimental work, thus the work is apt. You would be shocked at the amount of typos professional screenwriters submit; rest assured, I believe I could definitely forge a career in this.

I wish I could tell you all more about what I’ve been reading, but it’s all top-secret! I had to sign a waiver and everything! Although part of me wishes I could share, feeling privy to the internal machinations of the film industry is an exciting feeling that I actually relish. This sensation of exclusivity, seeing the gears which modulate Hollywood and the star machine…it is fascinating and inspiring for someone who loves film deeply.

I located my internship through a friend, but I earned the job through my coverage. I encourage people to locate studios which produce work they really appreciate. Be persistent and responsible in your application process. If you want a career in entertainment, there aren’t any other options than to pull out the stops, locate the work you enjoy and find the people facilitating it.

The first week was interesting. Day one I was excited, I can be a tiny bit nervous when I’m excited about an opportunity. Fortunately, it all worked out beautifully. The staff is lovely, diverse, intimately sized (my mentoring is dedicated, hands-on), and my supervisor is wonderful. She’s helpful, she answers all my questions, and is eminently concerned that I am learning and growing during this process. AND she has fabulous music taste!

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My humble intern hideaway

I’ve learned a fair amount about how business deals are made (hint: lots of discussion) and I’ve re-learnt a cursory life lesson: the necessity of brevity. I, of course, am the queen of redundancy and tangents, but I’ve managed to become more succinct in the coverage I’ve completed so far. You simply can’t afford to babble when there are more important goals to accomplish. Moreover, I think it will help me when I’m trying to produce creative projects and understand how to better pitch and sell stories.

My overarching goals are manifold. First and foremost, I want to further understand what professional niche I intend to occupy. One can only get a limited idea of what a film-career might look if they rely on screenwriting books and hearsay. Being present is vital: seeing who pulls what weight or how I might someday take on responsibilities. Furthermore, I want to build a network in the area. My coworkers have been very supportive about the prospect of a future career here.

Another goal was to figure if I could imagine living in L.A., and let me tell you, I definitely could! The greenery and weather are glorious, the clubs are exponentially better than any in Boston, and the food is delicious (albeit expensive, but c’mon, it’s L.A.!). It feels incredible to be in a community of artists and people who appreciate art. I feel so whole being around tenacious and creatively engaged citizens, even tangentially and indirectly. I could do without the overabundance of fedoras (which are apparently in style here?) but eh, you take the good with the bad.

My final purpose was to do research that will inform my thesis and future writing and certainly, this all will. The density of scripts I’m reading and the coverage I’m writing are improving my writing, particularly my ability to balance literary economies of purpose, production and expression. In the middle of week one, I had a brain surge that revolutionized my thesis. I feel very in touch with my creative soul in The City of Angels.

I even got to go to Lava Bear’s first film premiere! The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, is excellent. Go see it! The movie’s harsh realism was right up my alley. I feel so fortunate to have located a production studio that supports independent, innovative, alternative talent. Also: I made eye contact with Zac Efron at the premiere. It’s puerile of me, but I could have burst into tears. I looked right into the abyss and it inexplicably stared back, filled with promise and potentialities of realizing dreams. I feel confident this is where I should be and fortunate that the WOW has helped make it happen.

So long, WOW’ers and readers. I will return soon to regale you with stories of my travails, and ideally, more celebrity sightings.

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Outside the Lava Bear office

Alex Weick — Brandeis University 2015

My Work at the Behavioral Health Partial Program

The Behavioral Health Partial (BHP) Program is a treatment center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, for those battling a wide range of mental health issues, varying from mood and anxiety disorders to thought and personality disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), the BHP offers group and individual therapy sessions to reduce patient’s symptoms and improve their functioning. On average, patients attend this day program for around 7-10 days and are often transitioning from inpatient care to outpatient treatment.

 The BHP conducts extensive research in order to study different mental illnesses and the effects of CBT and DBT. Each day, patients complete self-report questionnaires. This data is then used to assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and many other factors. These questionnaires, along with clinical assessments, are essential for research at the BHP. Currently, I am helping with many research projects, including improving research databases and co-writing a research paper.

http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/news/staff/
http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/news/staff/

I secured this internship a year ago, spending only two months at the BHP last summer and mainly working on a treatment fidelity project. This summer, however, I am co-writing a research article that explores the predictors of suicidality in those with psychosis.  Currently, I am working on completing the literature search that will provide the background information for the article. I am researching the suicidality predictors that researchers have used in the past. From this, we can choose a number of predictors from our database to form our own model. These predictors will then be assessed for significance to see if they are notably correlated with suicidality in patients with psychosis. These predictors are taken mostly from clinical assessments and self-report surveys.

I am also working on a visual timeline that displays all of the measures ever administered at the BHP. In order to do so, I have to navigate the BHP database to find the dates of when these measures were administered and terminated. I am also involved with running depressed subjects in a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment. It is our hope that this CBM task will improve the automatic negative thoughts that often accompany depression. With this internship, I am gaining experience in a clinical setting by interacting with patients and clinicians.

In the first week, I have been working closely with the research coordinator and a post-doctoral fellow. I have learned how to navigate SPSS, databases, E-prime, and Excel while also learning how to begin a research project and complete a literature search. I am excited to continue with these projects and I am learning something new every day. I am hoping to deepen my understanding of the research methods used in psychology as well as experiencing the implications of such research in a clinical setting.

-Lauryn Garner, ’15

Week One at Healthy Waltham: What I’m Doing and How

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At Healthy Waltham, everyone is passionate about eating healthy, delicious food, and helping others live well. The staff and my fellow intern are inviting, enthusiastic, and a bit on the “crunchy” side– which for me is perfect. Already, the amount of work that goes into a community organization surprises me, and it is only my first week!

Healthy Waltham is a 501 C nonprofit organization that aims to promote healthy living in the Waltham community. It originally started as a coalition to organize various existing health-orientated groups; now Healthy Waltham has several of its own projects aimed at health promotion and childhood obesity prevention. Learning Gardens with local schools and housing developments, cooking classes, and the recent River Fest are just some of the activities in which Healthy Waltham is involved. Brandeis students often intern or volunteer with Healthy Waltham, such as the Veggie Buddies club through Waltham Group.

My role as an intern at Healthy Waltham mainly revolves around recipe development, nutrition, and teaching healthy cooking to kids, teens, and adults. During the Fall 2013 semester, I volunteered with Healthy Waltham and the Chill Zone to teach middle school students how to make healthy snacks. The internship is basically a continuation and expansion of my volunteer role. Another major goal of my internship is to make the cooking classes sustainable with future interns.

In addition to the cooking classes, I am helping with internship development, grant writing, and communications as well.  After becoming more familiar with the needs and specific goals of Healthy Waltham, hopefully I can contribute fresh ideas that will help the group move forwards.

How did you get involved with Healthy Waltham, you ask? Last summer, I met Judy Fallows at a farmer’s market. After talking for a while, she mentioned that she had been looking for someone to give cooking lessons at the Chill Zone for years. The classes started the following fall and Judy was so pleased with the program that she suggested the World of Work (WOW) fellowship for when I returned from abroad. I wanted to learn more about the community side of health care and to make the cooking class sustainable, so I accepted her offer.

The first week went well and I had more fun than I expected! The people at Healthy Waltham become more inspiring as I learn more about them because they are all so passionate and have done amazing things. From helping Reva Haselkorn, the chef instructor, with her cooking class at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, I learned so much about how to teach others that I wish I knew in the fall! Another highlight of the week was taking the ServSafe certification course so I can handle food with the public more safely.

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During the rest of the summer, I hope to learn how to encourage others to make long-term changes to their lifestyle and to learn how to earn a grant. No matter what I do in the future, I want to help people improve their health on their own. Since I am considering research as a career, knowing how to win a grant may be necessary. Although I expect to learn about certain things, the most valuable lessons I learn during this internship will come unexpected.

– Yuki Wiland, ’15

From Healthier Schools to Green Products: The Boston Public Health Commission

I am interning with the Boston Public Health Commission, the nation’s oldest health department, which operates as an independent public agency providing a broad range of health programs and services.  Public service and access to quality healthcare are the foundations of their mission, which is to protect, promote, and preserve the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly the most vulnerable.  The Commission oversees about 1,200 employees and maintains its mission through more than 40 programs grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Addictions Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Support Services; and Emergency Medical Services.  I work under the Environmental Health Division within the Infectious Disease Bureau.  My responsibilities as an intern this summer are most heavily focused on the Environmental Health Division’s Safe Shops program as part of their Healthy Homes and Environment initiative.

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Me holding a photoionization detector to measure VOC’s and a Q-Trak to read CO2 levels within a middle school.

 I first encountered the Boston Public Health Commission through the Health and Justice, Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) this past fall.  I shadowed health inspectors in nail salons and attended the Commission’s Healthy Cosmetology Committee meetings to discuss recent regulations being passed regarding the salons.  I quickly grew an interest in their mission to improve public health within Boston as it very much related to the work I was doing in JBS and decided to contact my current supervisor to negotiate my spring internship.  The work we completed in our JBS resulted in the completion of an indoor air quality study within several nail salons throughout Boston to measure levels of toxic volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and toluene.  Beginning my internship and continuing it over the summer was therefore a very natural transition from JBS, as I am conducting indoor air quality testing and educational outreach with several of the same nail salons.

Although I am acquainted with my workplace through my spring internship, this first week was still very much a new experience.  I think that the most profound difference between the summer and spring was not having fellow Brandeis students working with me.  This change initially seemed like a negative one as each day felt extremely long – alone in my cubical or in the field by myself – as I had no one to talk to at work besides the occasional questions I would ask my supervisor.  However, I now view it as a positive one, as it has forced me not only to reach out and talk to people around the office, but it also drove me to put myself out there and show initiative.  For instance, I became friendly with the woman that sits next to me through frequent conversation and now asked her if I could shadow her on a lead based paint inspection in two weeks, which I am excited to attend.  I also got to go on two indoor air quality inspections in a middle school in Dorchester and another in Brighton, to measure levels of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter.

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Example of a “greener” auto body shop paper towel.

The bulk of the work I completed this week was directed at the creation of a price comparison sheet to compare the prices of various paper products like toilet paper through a sampling of prices from different stores such as Shaw’s Supermarket and Whole Foods in order to show small businesses that “greener” recycled products are often not much more expensive than mainstream brands and sometimes even cheaper.

I have high expectations for my internship this summer and plan to go on several more health inspections, dealing with a range of environmental hazards from asbestos to measuring levels of volatile organic compounds within auto body shops.  Furthermore, I expect to gain further insight into the public health regulatory process, learning not only how and why these regulations are coming into existence, but also how they can effectively be enforced.

– Benjamin Krause, ’15

ISlide USA: The Beginning of the Journey

This summer I will be working for a start-up, athletic footwear company called ISlide USA. Located in Norwood, MA, ISlide specializes in premium, highly customizable slides (athletic flip flops) that are allowing the business to grow every day. There is nothing like our product on the market today and consumers are starting to realize this.

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I located this internship through our baseball team’s Facebook group. The company reached out to our athletic department and our captain put the information in our group. I thought it sounded very interesting, so I went in for an interview and received the position. ISlide has created and sold slides to celebrities and athletes such as Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, 2 Chainz, Riff Raff, and many others (view company website). We also have distributed them to the University of New Mexico, Northeastern University, and Southern New Hampshire University. During my internship I will be working mainly on sales, marketing, and generating interest for the company. However, I have been assured that if I find myself interested in any other aspect of the business I can be given the opportunity to learn it and work within it. With the unique corporate structure of ISlide, I will be working directly under CEO Justin Kittredge and the Sales Director which is an amazing opportunity. The company is still in the early stages so the interns here are given responsibilities and access to things that many college students are not. I loved my first week and I am excited to see the person I become by the end of the summer.

Waking up last Monday for my first day of work was nerve-racking. I arrived to the address with no issues, got out of my car, put my back pack on, and headed up the stairs. ISlide USA is located on the fourth floor of an old mill. What is inside is amazing. Worn wood floors and brick walls house the business. Boston sports heroes such as Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Pedro Martinez, and Mickey Ward are painted on the white wood walls seen throughout the floor plan. There are boxes filled with slides stacked everywhere and a Pop-a-shot basketball game located in the corner. It is truly the most unique business office I have ever seen. While some may think that this space would distract the employees of the company, it actually does the opposite. When it comes right down to it, the mill has a way of bringing all of the members of ISlide closer as well as acting as a highly functional facility. We love this place and are proud to call it home.

After the whirlwind that occurs when meeting everyone and receiving your assignments, Justin told me that I needed to take a song and remix it to make the theme about slides. I was confused but the distraction made the transition much easier. I settled on remixing Sweet Caroline and had to sing my version of the song in front of everyone. It was embarrassing but I got it done; it felt like I had completed a right of passage. After that I got into my job, doing sales. I learned the ropes from my co-workers and began creating my database and contact list. Over the week my lists grew and my email’s sent folder swelled. Finally, towards the end of the week, I made my first sale. Everyone was excited for me and I was pumped. It felt great to do something that helped the company.

So far, I could not be happier with my decision to accept an internship with ISlide. I have only been here for a week and I already feel a true connection with the company, which is rare to find with an internship position. I come to work at 8:30 in the morning and don’t leave until 5:30 but the days don’t feel long, I am still having fun. Going forward my goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can. I want to use this experience to learn about two things I find very interesting, business and entrepreneurship.

ioby: In Our Backyard

This summer I am working in Brooklyn, NY for a small non-profit called ioby. ioby stands for “in our backyard” and it works to help support local community projects across the country. ioby is an online crowd resourcing platform  that allows people to post, organize and fund-raise for project proposals made to improve a community. Many people that use ioby do not have experience fundraising or community organizing. Because of this, ioby offers trainings on grassroots fundraising and organizing in order to help everyone achieve their goal. The idea behind this organization is that people know what their communities need most. Often times city planners or people in positions of power have set ideas on what a good community looks like. ioby is different because we try to empower people to achieve their own vision of a vibrant community.  Check out this video to learn more.

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ioby logo

I found the organization through a colleague that I worked with at the New York City Council, last summer. Earlier this year I sent him an email asking whether he knew about any organizations that were active around issues of public space and urban issues. I also told him that I am involved with organizing on campus at Brandeis and would be interested in exploring that field as well. My colleague knows the co-founder of the organization sent me some information and put me in touch. I browsed through the website and decided that I was interested in working for this organization. From there I sent a cover letter and resume and went through a phone interview. I was thrilled when offered the internship.

So far I am two weeks into my internship and I have done a number of different tasks. Because this organization is so small (3 full time staff and 5 part time staff), I will be doing a little bit of everything. One project that I have already completed is researching and outlining blog posts for 3 different topics that relate to many proposed projects from our website. These topics are food education, art in tactical urbanism and women of color in biking. ioby is planning on hosting webinars around all three topics to dig into the topics that our project leaders find interesting. These webinars will also provide people with information on how to successfully complete projects that fall within these 3 subject areas. In addition to the research, I am helping out with the logistics of the organization. I have been helping with book keeping to make sure that the organization’s finances are all in order for auditing. The biggest project that I will be taking on this summer will be running a phone survey of all of the people that have used our website in order to improve the organization as well as understand the long term impacts that our organization has had. Right now I am waiting for finalization of the questions before beginning the calls.

This summer I am looking forward to running this survey and improving my data analysis skills. In addition to this I am looking forward to learning more about how a small non-profit operates. I am really happy to be working with ioby. So far my interactions with my co-workers have been great and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer.

-Josh Berman ’15

First week at Innerscope Research

My first week at Innerscope Research is finally over and I already feel at home. I first heard about the company through personal research. When I heard a representative was speaking at a conference at Harvard, I immediately registered. From that point on, I kept in contact and reached out to current employees as well. I was passionate about what they did and wanted to get involved in any shape or form. In the spring, I applied for an internship and was able to secure a position for the summer! I didn’t expect to get one since it is a small company. However, things worked out and my first week is already over.

Innerscope Research

I walked into the place on a Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. I sat on a couch as I waited for the Internship Director to come by. I was welcomed with a big smile and a somewhat awkward handshake. The office is on the second floor of a building and is split into two office spaces. On one side of the building is the Media Lab where participants come in for experiments. Opposite of the Media Lab are the office rooms and conferences. Of course, they also reserved an area for the interns! I have my own desk and work computer (still figuring out how to use). Everyone welcomed me into the company and went out of their way to introduce themselves to me at my desk. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so kind and genuine. After a few days, I was already able to joke around with some of the Analysts, Project Manager, and the CEO (we’re buds now)!

From this summer internship, I hope to learn from the Analysts and Project Managers. A decent amount of employees have their Ph.D and I plan on figuring out whether graduate school will be in my future path as well. Innerscope’s purpose is what I have always wanted to do. By the end of the summer, I hope to figure out whether or not this is the place for me.
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Innerscope Research is a market research company that uses neuroscience tools to answer clients’ questions on marketing. Their methodologies include eye-tracking, facial coding, and biometrics. Eye-tracking is used to locate where the consumers are looking at within an ad/commercial. Facial coding is used with cameras to study facial muscle movements that correlate with certain emotions. As for biometrics, Innerscope specifically uses GSR ( galvanic skin response) to focus on sweat glands and a heart monitor. With these tools, Innerscope is able to study how consumers react to ads. For instance, does the Twix commercial make a consumer engaged and focused? Are the consumers focusing on the characters during the PopTart commercial? Exploring with consumer neuroscience depends on the clients and what they’re looking for. Innerscope Research’s main goal is to analyze consumer’s non-conscious behavior to improve marketing/advertising worldwide. Sounds cool? Trust me, it’s even cooler from behind-the-scenes…As an intern, my main responsibility is to help and support projects through data entry/analysis, client reports, and data mining. I work closely with a Senior Analyst who is also the Internship Director. With him, I will be exposed to the different departments within the company including Sales, Marketing, and Finance. There is also an Internship project that I was assigned with the other intern. Luckily, this isn’t due until the end of the summer.

They also keep their twitter up-to-date!

 

 

– Alicia Park, ‘ 15

 

Back at McLab

This summer, I have the pleasure of working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the lab of Dr. Sandra McAllister. The McAllister Lab studies breast cancer as a systemic disease, and our research focuses on identifying systemic factors that contribute to tumor progression and finding ways to interdict their function. Located in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston, MA, our lab is housed in the Karp Research Building.

This is actually my third summer at the McAllister Lab, as I interned here previously after my junior and senior years of high school. For those two prior years, I was at the lab under the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center CURE Program. I have continuously maintained dialogue with Dr. McAllister throughout the academic years, and she welcomed me to return to the lab when I had asked if I could return for another summer.

During my very first summer at the McAllister Lab (after junior year of high school), my mentor and I started a project called the Aging Project. In the Aging Project, we are studying the effect of age on triple-negative breast cancer. We have a cohort of young mice and old mice, inject them with human triple-negative breast cancer cell lines, and allow the tumors to grow. The project has been ongoing since its initiation two years ago, so I will once again contribute to its progress. Initially, I was working side-by-side with my mentor throughout my first and second summers. However, he left to pursue graduate school in the middle of the second summer; I ended up working alone for the last two weeks, but with assistance from other post-doctoral researchers in the lab if it was necessary. This summer, I am yet again without a direct mentor. Fortunately, I am still receiving guidance from my principal investigator on the project, and the other post-docs in the lab are also willing to assist me on protocols I am unfamiliar with. In terms of research related responsibilities this summer, I will be doing a lot of immunostaining, tissue culture, gene expression analysis, and literature searches. Other responsibilities concern general upkeep of the lab, such as updating and maintaining cell line and histology databases, restocking supplies, and organization. I will additionally attend weekly meetings with Dr. McAllister and the lab, departmental floor meetings, seminars, and journal clubs.

My first week consisted of catching up on meetings with my principal investigator, as well as planning the experiments that I will be doing. Planning experiments on my own is a new challenge for me, as I am used to having my previous mentor tell me what to do and guide me through each protocol. I feel overwhelmed and stressed about what I have to get done on the Aging Project, but I have confidence that I will be supported by other members of the lab if I need anything. There are also new members of the lab that I have not seen during previous summers, such as new post-docs and summer students, so I hope that I can become well-acquainted with them as well. This summer, I hope to build on my current knowledge of the McAllister Lab’s research and learn how to conduct myself independently in a research setting. I definitely miss having my mentor’s direct guidance, but I am looking forward to growing as a scientist.

– Irene Wong, ’17

Presenting the Aging Project at the New England Science Symposium, April 2014
Presenting the Aging Project at the New England Science Symposium, April 2014
Dr. Sandra S. McAllister Lab, Summer 2013

First Week at NYC Seminar and Conference Center

“Next stop is 23rd Street. Stand clear of the closing doors!” says the subway announcer.  I gather my belongings, knowing that I have to get off at the next stop. When the M train stops at the 23rd Street platform, the doors open and hordes of people get off the train with me. I quickly make my way to exit because, knowing NYC, a line to exit the subway station will always form, and I definitely do not want to get caught up in that in my morning commute. After I exit the station, I catch myself walking quickly to NYC Seminar and Conference Center (NYCSCC) to keep up with the fast-paced pedestrian speed of those around me.

NYC Seminar and Conference Center
NYC Seminar and Conference Center

This summer, I am interning at NYCSCC, located in the Flatiron District of New York City. It is a small business that hosts corporate and business clients’ meetings, seminars, and professional development events. Its clients range from people in the non-profits to financial services, both domestic and international. NYCSCC’s mission is to provide seminar and conference space for companies and groups to use while being budget-friendly. NYCSCC offers facilities that are up-to-date, tech support throughout events, and catering and amenities services for its business clients.

As a Finance intern, my responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1) Collaborating with NYCSCC employees to complete tasks essential to the business’s functions

2) Collaborating with other NYCSCC interns on various projects ranging from inventory management to brand analysis

3) Focusing on Financial Analysis projects to improve small business financial operations

  •         Forecast recommendations for where the business’s budget should be spent to grow the business
  •         Analyze financial statements of a company in previous years, traffic on website, and all other data to draw correlations and conclusions on NYCSCC’s profitability

I found out about the internship through attending the NYC CIC career fair, January 2014. I am interested in accounting and financial work, and I immediately applied for this opportunity after speaking to a NYCSCC employee at the fair. After successfully navigating the interview and speaking with my future supervisor about my responsibilities as an intern, she offered and I accepted the internship. Since I wanted to stay in my home city of NYC over the summer while pursuing my interests through an internship, being a Finance intern satisfied my internship search.

My first week at NYCSCC was great. I met the other summer interns at the company and got the chance to know them better over lunches and group projects. All the interns were friendly and were willing to help each other out in any way possible. On the first day of the internship, all the interns were given a tour that was similar to what potential clients would see when they request a NYCSCC tour. NYCSCC rents out a couple of floors in the building. Throughout the tour, we learned about the building’s history and were provided with interesting anecdotes of the rooms. After the tour ended, I had a better understanding of the different rooms that clients could book, depending on if they were looking to host a social or a professional event.

In the following couple of days, all of the interns and I worked on projects that involved looking into different aspects of the company and providing suggestions for improvement. In order to evaluate how NYCSCC is performing, I looked into data that other conference centers have put on their websites and compared them to NYCSCC’s data.

While working on the projects, I learned that small business hospitality companies, such as NYCSCC, recently began to gain business again after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. According to Trends in the Conference Center Industry 2013, the reason that NYCSCC follows the economic trend is that this company falls into the category of a luxury good. When the economy is not performing well, small business hospitality companies take a dip in profits as well. People are less willing to spend money to book a space at a conference center when they can perhaps save some money and hold it at their own company’s space.

 

Photo Courtesy of www.nycseminarcenter.com

For the rest of the summer, I expect to handle and complete more finance and accounting projects for the company. In addition, I expect to observe multiple NYCSCC events and see how event managers take charge from the beginning to the end of the event.

 

Looking Back and Forward – Weizmann Institute Internship Midpoint Review

I checked my calendar yesterday, and was surprised to see that I am already halfway through my internship!  It seems like I just started, and I am still getting used to the lab and the team.  But now that I have paused to look back at what I’ve learned, I realize how much I have accomplished in the past month.  I am progressing on a research project that I designed with Dr. Fisher and Dr. Segal on a potential Alzheimer’s drug.  I have been using the confocal microscope independently to test the drug on cultured neurons, and to measure its interaction with other chemicals.  I am now beginning a new project, taking high-resolution 3D images of neurons to measure growth after protein transfection.

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Flying over Israel in a two-seater plane with my supervisor!

Flying over Israel in a two-seater plane with my PI!

I have listed my original goals here so I can reflect on my progress so far:

1) To attend lectures and conferences hosted at the Weizmann Institute, which will encompass various scientific topics

In my second week here, I attended a lecture by Prof. David Wallach from the Department of Organic Chemistry.  I learned about the sustainability of today’s energy sources and the Weizmann Institute’s cutting-edge research on energy sources for the future.  The institute has a solar tower that contains a field of 64 mirrors, each approximately the size of a tennis court. Each mirror tracks the movement of the sun independently and reflects its light onto one target mirror to accumulate all the energy.  The downside of solar energy is that it cannot be stored, so Weizmann researchers are currently researching storable and sustainable energy options for the future.

The second lecture I attended was by Prof. Tony Futerman from the Department of Biological chemistry Department on “Sphingolipids in health and disease.”  The cell membrane is majorly made up of one kind of molecule, the phospholipid. Prof. Futterman has found that there are actually hundreds of thousands of different phopholipid structures within the membrane.  There are more variations of phospholipids than there are genes in our cells! Prof. Futterman is researching the significance of this variation and how mutations can affect or cause diseases such as Gaucher disease and Tay-Sachs disease.

2)    To gain insight into the connections between molecular studies and mainstream medical treatments

Within the Alzheimer’s disease research, I have worked directly with a drug that could be used in the future in clinical care.  Dr. Fisher and I have discussed the process of designing a drug, testing it in the laboratory, and bringing it into clinical trials.  I am hopeful that I have played a helpful role in the research of this drug, and that it will be successful in the long run.

3)    To improve my research skills and learn more about research on an international scale

The Segal lab currently has scientists from Israel, Russia, Armenia, and Germany, and is always welcoming new post-docs, masters students and summer interns from all over the world. I see the scientists around me working on their projects, and at our Sunday morning lab meetings (yes, in Israel we have to work on Sundays) I get to hear about their progress. This past Sunday morning I heard about one researcher’s work on seizure prevention. This is really science in the making, and it is so cool to be right here watching it happen.

I am most proud of my ability to adapt to the new research setting.  I was briefly taught how to use the confocal microscope, and was then left to use it on my own.  I was originally nervous working on my own – there’s a lot to remember to keep the (expensive!) microscope clean and functional.  Also, this was my first time working with a computer-based microscope, and so I had to master the complex computer system. But I’ve learned to be very careful, reviewing steps in my head before doing them, and so far so good!  This is definitely a skill that I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life. Learning to master skills quickly through attention to detail and patience is very important in medical training.  And with the constantly changing medical technologies, I will continue to practice this throughout my career.

– Shani Weiner

Remaining days of my summer internship

My summer internship at IDG Ventures Vietnam was a wonderful experience. I really wish that I could extend my summer internship here into the Fall; however, I need to return to the States and finish my last year of undergraduate study. By this time, I have developed a clearer sense of what I want to do in the future, and private equity is definitely something I want to pursue in my professional career.

During the final two weeks of my internship, I mainly worked on finishing up my white paper described in previous blogs. As my summer break came to an end, I was also busy making some travel plans to make the most out of the remaining days of summer, therefore making it harder for me to finish the paper on time. However, I brought up this problem to my supervisor and he gladly allowed me more time and also guided me to add some finishing touches to my research. My final presentation was scheduled on August 11th, which is also my last day of work. I was quite nervous for this last task; but I told myself that I have been working hard all summer. I collaborated with my teammate to touch carefully on Industry background, competitor analysis and business models of social networks in Vietnam. We also pointed out characteristics that are specific to Vietnam, which the managers found interesting and noteworthy. In the end, they asked us some follow-up questions and encouraged that we would keep in touch frequently with them on the situation of the project regarding new changes in regulation in the coming years. I am obviously glad about this chance as it seems like a great opportunity to maintain and extend my professional network.

Looking back over two months working at IDG, I felt I am truly blessed to work with hardworking individuals in a top private equity firm in Vietnam. Every analyst and associate here possess certain qualities in analytical and verbal that I really want to master, and this is definitely something I want to accomplish over my last year at Brandeis. I look forward to take more challenging courses at IBS and engage in more social activities on campus this year. I hope to make the most out of my last semesters here before joining the workforce in the coming year.

For students who are looking to work in private equity or venture capital

1)   Be close to your professors and start looking for your ideal internships as early as possible.

2)   It is ideal to have passion for a certain or multiple industries, since as an analyst you would have to pitch a lot of ideas to managers. Read more about private equity here

3)   Work on your analytical, research and presentation skills

In short, I think that venture capital is an option that many people consider thanks to its balanced lifestyle and work hours. I am thankful for the opportunity to intern here at IDG Ventures Vietnam and I strongly believe it will lay down a strong foundation for my future steps.

– Nam Pham ’14

 

Moving Cl-Osa to the US and Brandeis

The most beautiful Pacific sunset I've ever seen! From Osa's Conservation Center.
The most beautiful Pacific sunset I’ve ever seen! From Osa’s Conservation Center.

As I reflect on my internship with Osa Conservation, I really appreciate so much the skills I learned throughout the summer. I measured and gathered data from a total of about 1,250 trees with a great field team in about the span of 1 month, which was intense but very satisfactory at the end. I learned how the entire research process works from start to finish: project idea; design; budget; preparation; daily fieldwork; team management; data entry, compilation, and analysis; and preparation and technique standardization for replacement researchers. I also learned more about the levels of taxonomic classifications for plants, as well as specific Latin names from the local set of tropical trees. I learned about the collaboration that goes on among various NGOs with similar interests to pursue projects that could not otherwise get done with the limited resources from a single NGO, which is very important for NGO development. Given that Osa Conservation has former workers from Conservation International, it has developed this successful model of NGO growth, development, and empowerment.

Being back on campus, I hope to build off of this experience by continuing my focused pursuit of as many environmental-science concepts as I can learn while at Brandeis, as well as wherever I decide to go after graduation. My time abroad has motivated me to make the effort to promote my Environmental Studies minor into a major; as a senior it may not be possible at this point but I will certainly do everything I can to make it so! I will also continue to promote environmentalism alongside the student community on campus through Students for Environmental Action. After Brandeis, I hope to continue studying similar interests like plant ecology and forestry in graduate school, perhaps alongside a professor at Lehigh whom I met at the research station where I was staying.

While the data collection for this project is part of a multi-year effort, in the future I do hope to take on the many other challenges that climate change issues currently pose to the natural world. I feel that I have yet to learn about the multitude of issues that deal specifically with climate change, but as of now I know that I am interested in detailing the potential of sustainable ways of life—a very important way being organic agriculture—to mitigate climate change. Essentially, my most fundamental goal in my work life is to best prove (using science, I believe) how putting all of our ideas about sustainability into practice can actually give the results that today’s, future, and older generations (often filled with skeptics) need to start pushing for and adopting a new ideal of societal development and advancement. I am at the stage where I want to learn about how the most successful existing models of sustainability work (which seem rare and found all over the world and require travel). Later I aim to reach a stage where I alone have the capacity and know-how to establish these models in places that need them. The real beauty about practical sustainability models is that most of the world needs them—they truly transcend boundaries of old divisions like “first” and “third” worlds.

Advice that I would give to a student interested in working with Osa Conservation: make sure you know what you want from the internship and why you are going to Osa Conservation’s wildlife refuge. I say this in a down-to-earth way because the organization does not have many personnel, which means that everyone will always be busy because there is so much more to do than there are workers. This means that while you will have a supervisor and/or mentors, they will not be with you for much of the day. So, set your schedule, be your own boss, take advantage of opportunities as they come, and you should get everything you want from your experience and more!

Advice that I would give to a student interested in working in conservation biology and related fields: you are striving to set world trends of development. World sustainability systems are not yet entirely structurally stable, so it may be hard to make a living, especially financially. So, be prepared to let your life and work be driven by passion and love! Also be sure to make the most of funding, grant, and scholarship opportunities.

Thank you to everyone who helped me make this experience a reality!

 

Nicholas Medina ’14

Osa's biological research station
Osa’s biological research station
A rare sight: a Green marine turtle in the process of laying her eggs! Seen during a night patrol.
A rare sight: a Green marine turtle in the process of laying her eggs! Seen during a night patrol.
A beautiful view I will miss.
A beautiful view I will miss.

 

 

Things I Learned at The Energy Foundation

I still cannot believe that it is already the end of my internship at the Energy Foundation, and that the new semester at Brandeis is in front of me. I still remember when I entered the door of my office, I had a lot of uncertainty about what this experience would be like. I expected to know about how NGOs work in China, learn more analytical skills, and improve my writing through research, and those wishes all got fulfilled in the projects I joined! I also learned many unexpected things, such as how environmental theories can possibly be used to meet the strict government requirements, and how sustainability is closely connected with other subjects such as urban planning and transportation. I am very impressed by the passion of my colleagues and I got to know their stories, some of them even left some privileged institutions or high-earning jobs to join this organization to make a real difference in the environment of China.

Besides general office duties, I mainly joined three projects throughout this summer. In the beginning, I did not jump into a project immediately, instead, to get familiar to our organization and the City Group, I read a lot of documentation in our library, and helped with office duties such as creating charts, translating, and writing summaries. After a few days, I was desperate to join a real project. After one staff meeting, another intern and I stayed and asked the program director whether there was any projects that we can join. He was a bit shocked and then smiled (I guess he was shocked because most interns just do what is assigned rather than ask to join.) He replied, “yes, we have 60 projects going on around China and we definitely need people to help.” What I learned here is that I need to communicate what I want to do, because it could turn out to be a perfect match.

Then I started my first project, the Jinan Urban Planning Project. Our goal was to apply dense street in the new city area and to provide the Jinan government technology and policy support. One challenging task I got was to summarize two, 250-page MIT research papers down to only 5 pages, focusing on methods and policy. I struggled to choose the most important and related context from tons of seemingly related materials. But after I made it, I could read papers and get their theses much  faster.

After the Jinan Project, I joined the Beijing Low-carbon Transportation Project. We collaborated with Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design on a research project aiming to build a low carbon strategy and integrate it into Beijing’s upcoming comprehensive plan. My duties included doing research on literature reviews, analyzing international low carbon transportation development principles and strategies, and drafting out a case study summary report. This project included both teamwork cooperation and independent research, my time management improved to accommodate to this multi-tasked project. I also had a chance to work with government and see how governors and scientists negotiate and make decisions together.

The last project I did was assisting in statistical analysis to build a model explaining how residents’ social-economic, demographic characteristics, and communities’ spatial structures could influence residents’ travel behavior hence resulting in different patterns of carbon emissions in Beijing. I also completed the preliminary statistics processing and analysis. This project focused on data analyzing; we used mainly LEAP, STAT, Excel to find what were the most essential variables that shaped residents’ behavior. I also used a cross-list skill, the statistics software STATA, that I learned from my economics class.

Working in the Energy Foundation was like a test my knowledge learned in Brandeis and how it could be applied in real work. So far the most important skills I learned at Brandeis to help me this summer were reading and writing, conducting research independently, teamwork, discussion, sustainable cities factors, Excel and STATA learned from financial accounting and econometrics classes, among others. This internship focused me more around the sustainability field so I can better choose classes and experiences when I get back to Brandeis.

For students who are also in working in the environmental field or any NGOs, here are my suggestions:

1)   Be close to your professors and start looking for your ideal internships as early as possible.

2)   Try different NGOs in different fields, and different sizes. It might be easier for you to figure out in which environment you shine more.

3)   Connect with your colleagues, ask them for advice for your future and listen to their stories.

4)   Last but not least, do your work, learn fast, and love what you do.

Reflecting on A Summer Well-Spent

Getting up to the office everyday was no small feat!

Heading into the summer, I knew that this internship would be critical for me for so many reasons — since this would be my final year at Brandeis, I knew that this could very well be my last opportunity to get my feet wet before diving right into the legal field after graduation.  Fortunately, now that the experience has come to an end, I can safely say that my time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office was a tremendous and rewarding experience that I will never forget.

I remember my first day at the office ten short weeks ago- how I needed to write myself a note in the morning so I remembered how to get into the building and up to the 6th floor (navigating the building isn’t as easy as it sounds!)  It took some time, as it always does, but with every passing week, I found myself growing more and more accustomed to my surroundings, and to my everyday tasks at the office.  After a while, I no longer needed assistance from my supervisor before beginning a new project like redacting personal information of witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants from documents for trial, or sifting through witness testimony and highlighting important points for the Assistant U.S. Attorney to use during summation.  That wasn’t the case during the first week when I needed the assistance of my Paralegal Specialist advisor to show me how to use the scanning machine or create exhibit lists — and for someone who doesn’t like asking for help, that really took me out of my comfort zone.  Nevertheless, by the end of my internship, I was the one answering others’ questions, and not asking them myself, which was fine by me.

When the summer began, and even as far back as when I applied for this internship last winter, I identified my primary learning goal as preparation for entry-level employment following graduation.  As I reflect back on my summer internship, I am happy to report that I have met my goal — I have developed tangible skills which will be applicable in every future job or academic setting that I find myself in.  I have improved my ability to synthesize information, read analytically, highlight the important points in a vast collection of documents, and of course, perform research, which will be pretty much all I do if and when I pursue a law degree.

Besides this, I have made some excellent contacts at my internship, including my co-interns, supervisors and others who I interacted with on a daily basis (including this fellow below).

On the 10th floor every afternoon, I would take time to visit a mother hawk and her newborn babies (who may be difficult to see in this picture!)

I’d like to think that every experience you have in life is defined by who you meet, and as Dan Gilbert concludes in my favorite book, Stumbling on Happiness, the best way to predict how you will feel in a given future situation is to listen to others who have been there before.  Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have gotten some priceless guidance from the aforementioned people (not hawks) about my impending job search, from how to tackle interviews to how to address potential employers in an email.

But above all else, what I got out of my summer internship was positive reinforcement from people who have been working in this field for decades that I was in the right place.  And really, that is all I could have ever asked for- confirmation of what I already suspected: I am right for this, and this is right for me.

To those out there who are interested in interning in the legal field or with the Department of Justice, I would strongly recommend that you DO something at your internship.  Do not just sit around idly watching jury trials (although once in a while those are great to observe).  There is always something you can be doing, and if there isn’t, don’t be afraid to ask for an assignment.  Everything you do will be a learning experience- you just have to do them first.

– Ricky Rosen ’14

One tick, two tick, three tick…Lyme!

Hi all,

I must say it’s been quite a busy summer. Almost all my time has been divided between fieldwork, reading journal articles and writing research proposals. I still find it amazing that I have actually met or indirectly know a majority of the scientists that wrote these articles.  The articles have been very helpful in getting a background in tick based research and different lab methods I could use for analyzing the ticks after I have finished collecting them in early August.

I must apologize though; I realized I never explained how we actually collect ticks during my last post. It is actually a pretty simple method; once all of the equipment is made it take only five steps to collect ticks. First, you take the flannel flag (A) and drag it behind you as you walk through the forest for 30 seconds. This time equates for approximately 15 meters. Once this is completed, you hold onto the upper corner of the flag to avoid getting any ticks on you. While holding the flag, you scan both sides and count all of the ticks on the flag; this is critical since it is more important to get a tick count than actually collecting the ticks. For the third step, you take the very fine tip tweezers (B), be careful not to poke yourself…it hurts, and you take each tick off and place it into a humidified vial (C). Next you record the total number of ticks collected during that sweep on an index card. After you have completed this process 25 times, you put a fine mesh (D) to allow airflow into the vials while being stored in a refrigerator.  It’s really incredible, using this technique over the last two months Professor Olson and I have collected over 1,100 ticks!

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While I have had to deal with countless mosquito bites and fortunately only one tick bite, the real challenge has been learning how to apply the knowledge from my readings to writing memos. Through this summer I have had to write a memo to the Town of Weston describing the general concept behind the research. While this memo was easy to write, I really had to work on making a comprehensive research proposal/memo for the Town of Dover’s Lyme Disease Committee. Professor Olson and I have been working to create another long-term project that utilizes deer exclosures to analyze the effects of the absence of deer in an area. While this project started with an exclosure that was maybe 30 square meters, over the last few weeks it has expanded to potentially have several 5 acres exclosures. It has been both fascinating and rewarding seeing how this project has expanded and changed over the last few weeks.

Through this experience I have refined my ability to justify research while gaining support for it. This will be invaluable in the future since I will need to prepare many research proposals.

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I hope everyone’s summer is going well,

– Adam Krebs ’14