Post #3 – Reflecting on a Summer with the National Park Service

As my internship comes to a close, I feel like my time here has really been coming together. I am currently working on one last project that I hope will leave a lasting impression on the islands after I am gone. I have co-developed a project called Bivalve Quest with a co-worker of mine that would allow visitors to participate in the collection of scientific data. There is little existing data about the distribution and abundance of shellfish (such as clams and oysters) on the Boston Harbor Islands’ shores, so we want to get a better picture of the marine ecology. This project allows us to educate and engage guests in marine science while also generating useful scientific data. I am particularly proud of this achievement, as my work will go on to make a difference in studying the diversity of Boston Harbor’s shellfish.

As for the research project documenting marine species on and around the Harbor Islands, this is also going swimmingly. With the PhD candidate from UMass Boston that I have been working closely with, we have been doing in depth exploration of the subtidal areas around the islands – literally! Donning snorkeling gear, we headed out into the chilly waters to search for crabs, algae, and other marine species. A highlight was finding an eelgrass bed, which provide a safe haven for many juvenile fish but are threatened by destructive fishing and boating practices. I spotted a small baby flounder only about 2 inches long, but it darted away before I could manage to get a photograph.

I have been able to bond with my co-workers here at the Natural Resource team as well as the recurring volunteers that I work with nearly every week. Together with five seasonal staff and another intern, I have made a new group of friends that I can rely on and have gotten close to. I will miss the Natural Resource team once I am gone.

Hanging out with the Natural Resource team and a group of volunteers after a long day of invasive plant management!

With only a couple of weeks left before I complete my internship, it has been quite a ride. I’ve gotten a real taste of what it is like to be an employee of the National Park Service. I’ve been involved in many different projects and felt like the work I have done over the past three months is meaningful and actually making a difference. Overall, this has given me some great insight into what to look for in the future. I have gained invaluable experience in the field this summer and know that I want to continue to work hands-on with nature. My work on the shores and in the water has only strengthened my love for the oceans and marine species, and I have learned so much about the ecology of our local harbor. I have even gained some leadership skills while working with teens from the Live Blue Ambassadors program at the aquarium, assisting and teaching them about marine invasive species. Overall, this is a summer that I will never forget and has helped light up my path for my life after graduation.

The End :)

It’s already come to the end of my summer internship at Blueport Commerce and I have to say, I’m definitely going to miss it. Through the people I worked with, the technology I used and the great work atmosphere I was a part of, I have learned a lot and I am grateful to have received this opportunity.

My first learning goal for the summer was to learn a new programming language. Through debugging and implementing automated tests written in c# and built on Selenium as well as repairing defects to an MVC web application, I was able to dive into this new object-oriented programming language.  Along with C#, I was able to work with SQL and Powershell by writing stored procedures for automated tests as well as creating tools to help debug these tests.  Through C#, SQL and Powershell, I also learned the essentials of software testing and automation techniques. I knew that testing code was vital to programming but it was nice to dive into it and use advanced testing tools.

Team Product Demo! (with ice cream 🙂 )

My second learning goal was to connect with more people in this field. I think this internship has greatly strengthened my professional relationships. Blueport has a strong collaborative atmosphere so I had the opportunity to work with a variety of mentors which allowed me to learn the best practices in coding and agile development. Along with this, I was able to learn about my colleague’s career paths and how they came into this field. It was nice to hear that everyone’s path was different. In fact, many people had not taken computer science during their undergraduate experience! Hearing about everyone’s experiences exposed me to more possibilities for my career path.

Also, I can say, impostor syndrome is real and at school. I have always felt like maybe I’m not meant to major in computer science. However, having real-world experience has definitely made me feel more secure in my major and has clarified my career interests in software engineering.  I’ve also learned a lot about myself this summer as well as the importance of soft skills in any career field. I used to be scared of asking questions and being the person who didn’t exactly know what they were doing but working at Blueport has shown me that no one has all the answers and everyone is learning from each other. All that matters is that you have the willingness to learn and try. I guess one piece of advice that I would give to students interested in interning at a software company is to not be overwhelmed by everything you don’t know at first because through practice and asking questions, something that you once thought was impossible will soon be easy to you. Companies are always looking for a fresh and unique perspective and you have the capability to bring that to the table!

Paint night!!

I am really proud of what I have accomplished and I am excited to continue to use what I have learned. To everyone at Blueport, thank you for an amazing summer and everything it taught me! With the daily stand-up meetings, the monthly events, playing card games at lunch and especially the office dogs, I had an amazing time! 🙂

Finn visited us at work!

Finishing Up in the Lab

As my internship with the Irving Medical Center at Columbia University comes to a close, I have many positive reflections to look back on. In a very tangible way, I can see how much I learned. In a short time, I was able to begin to understand the details of Kidney transplant rejection research, when prior to this summer, I had extremely limited knowledge in the field. My goals for the summer were to take advantage of the opportunity and to learn as much as possible. I understood and did the procedure of staining tissue biopsies with antibodies to analyze the tissue. I learned the intricate anatomy of the kidney, the glomeruli, tubules, interstitium, nephrons, cytokeratin, and was able to recognize them under a microscope. I went to different conferences and seminars to learn about cutting edge biotechnology machines. I went to a seminar about the history and current regulations within medical research morality and standards (which was fascinating). I also heard the department head of the Harvard nephrology department give a talk on kidney function.

One thing that I am most proud of is that I developed the skill of being quite fearless about asking questions. In my work environment, I could have easily been embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t know a lot of things. I could have been bashful in asking questions, knowing that the doctors I was surrounded by have delved into their specialized sections of pathological study for years, and felt way out of my league. I certainly did recognize my newness to the field of study. It was very humbling, and I actually saw it as a perfect opportunity to be completely unembarrassed, ask any question I wanted, even knowing if they were more introductory questions in an expert’s eyes. There was always more I could ask and more I could learn, so I tried to take advantage of that in the best way possible. One day in the last few weeks, I actually sat in my supervisor’s office for a few hours, just me and her, and we got into a long detailed discussion about her research, writing all over her whiteboard, discussing it (as you can see in the picture here). It was totally wonderful.

I learned something about my medical aspirations and desires this summer as well. I had a very positive experience in the pathology department and learned so much, but I did discover that I am drawn to patient interaction. I kept finding myself going from the science (cross sections of tissue) and asking ‘how exactly does this translate to the patient’? ‘How can we best treat the patient?’ and ‘How did the patient respond?’. I am a ‘people’ person and I think that my career in medicine will somehow be intricately connected to seeing patients throughout the day, rather than only doing research or only looking at the tissues of patients.

Along with my internship work experience, I also had a nice time on evenings and weekends, seeing friends and family and exploring NYC. This summer internship has been a wonderful experience of learning and fun, and I am so grateful to the World of Work (WOW) Brandeis internship fellowship for making the experience possible.

Final Thoughts: A Russian Studies Intern in DC

This internship has definitely helped clarify my career interests as I now know that I really enjoy working in a think tank environment (especially AEI) because the notion of coming to work every day just to think about researching, analyzing or solving big problems in the world is a pretty appealing job description. I also learned that with limited guidance, as long as I take the proper time to reframe things in my own words, I can be very successful in the long run.

Case in point, I had little to no guidance at the beginning of my internship (which also happened to be when I saw the most of my scholar). In other words, for the first two weeks (before he left for his three-week trip), most of our interactions revolved around him critiquing the Daily Packets of political analysis that I was handing in, which continued to be subpar, because I had no idea what I was doing at that point in time. But, improving at anything is an iterative process, and this experience was exactly that. While he was away, I took his criticism to heart and used it to shape the rest of my work going forward, being mindful of where I had messed up earlier. To cap this process off, I wrote a 30-page intern on-boarding manual which I presented to him upon his return from his travels. I would definitely say I am most proud of the manual because it was the result of several iterations of synthesizing my scholar’s comments into one comprehensive guide for future interns.

My learning goals definitely changed from what I had originally set out to achieve since I did not end up speaking nearly as much Russian at work as I would have hoped since my scholar was seldom in the office and the Research Assistant who supervised me was equally busy.  Luckily, I was able to practice in the evenings since there was a girl from Moscow living at the International Student’s House, so while I did not meet my language practice goals head on, at least they were not neglected completely. Case in point, midway through the summer, I refocused my efforts on honing my reading comprehension skills in Russian.

For students interested in an internship at AEI be prepared to be thrust into an extremely intellectual environment. You will join a cohort of bright and talented peers from some of the best colleges and universities in the US, each person impressive in their own right. If you are willing to work hard, accept criticism and learn from it, you’ll be golden. As far as advice goes for those in my field, to the select few who would like to follow in my footsteps, if you can acquire a good command of the Russian language and familiarize yourself with the major American and Russian writers and thinkers who are writing about Russia, you will put yourself on the path to success.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Cologne Germany – My Summer Journey

Germany has officially hosted me for a month now and the memories, times, work, and friends have been incredible. Despite having a few doubts before embarking on this internship – looking back this experience is becoming immensely more important for me personally and professionally each day.

Above all, Köln has surprised me in how multicultural and open it is – with festivals almost every weekend. Highlights of the past two weeks have included the Cologne Pride (CSD day) where 1.2 million people attended, and the Kölner Lichter Fireworks show. The investment that the city is putting into making these majestic events such a success is truly remarkable and have made my weekly schedule filled with fun social opportunities. Weekends have been reserved for seeing more of Germany, traveling to other cities including Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Berlin, and more to come. Although sometimes exhausting, traveling is fueling me with new power and energy that makes work-life balance so much more efficient. I’ve learned the importance of letting myself fully immersed in the freedom of exploring, not knowing where exactly my path will take me or what the plans are for the day, while also always embracing the local culture and trying new things. This mindset is something that I really want to take back with me to the United States.

Another important aspect of the German experience for me has been the openness to shared learning. Not only in terms of cultural events, Köln is similarly dedicated to encouraging this shared space in the more professional realm. An example can be the Nacht der Technik hosted at the end of June. Open to the public and attracting both young and old, the night was an incredible opportunity to travel around the city and see the showcasing of underground tunnels, aerospace engineer work, university research, and hospital technology in action. In addition to being inspired, it was also a nice time for our lab to showcase our virtual reality retail work and for me and another intern to see the city from a technical perspective.

Work-wise the internship has been proceeding well and fully challenging. We are adapting our timeline to holiday breaks, student exam schedules, and coding progress, but overall it is heading towards halfway completion. Coding for me in a new language has been a lot harder than what I had anticipated and I am struggling to be as optimistic as I usually am about bearing through hardship to recognize the full potential of figuring it out. Because computer programming, in general, is new for me and it’s a must to design code that is at the level necessary for professional research, the pressure has been pushing me further than I had expected. Although at this stage it is unclear how much we can achieve within a month’s time, I am already feeling the reward of doing things that I would have never been able to do if not for this lab and the opportunities the internship is providing me.

And this feeling, the unique reward from the extreme challenge, is what makes the internship experience so different and powerful compared to at the academic setting. As a student, there are always other motives such as grades, time management, and future employment that steer the focus from the goal of learning and challenging oneself. If school is easy, you say thank you and continue with another subject, if it is hard you accept a bad grade and try better next time. In the actual work environment, you are trying to achieve something that can be done in multiple ways and you must navigate your own path within pushing yourself, doing the best work, and maintaining relationships. The learning process is so much more focused and freeing than a college setting, but it is also more demanding. I hope that I will be able to incorporate, maintain, and grow this while finishing my studies at Brandeis University.

 

– Shai Dinnar ’20

After a Couple More Weeks

After just two more weeks at the Hariri Imaging Lab, I feel as though I am getting used to the way the lab works and research that they do. At first, I was doing small tasks and was astonished by how important those tiny tasks are to the overall research process. I’ve realized that here, everything builds on itself and that it is amazing to begin to see tiny progression in such long term work. One of my goals for this internship was to get a better understanding of research and to experience its process. Now that I am familiar with their work, I have been given my own tasks to do, which makes me feel like I am a part of the research process and team.

OCT imaging of my finger!

I think the biggest difference for me between Brandeis academic life and the World of Work in a laboratory setting is structure. At Brandeis, my academic life is very structured. I have due dates that are planned ahead of time and each science class has the same basic structure and I know how to plan for it and I know what I will be learning and how I will be studying each day. The World of Work at the lab is very different. The structure is a lot more laid back, even though everyone is constantly doing work. There is a loose schedule, but each day that schedule changes many times because each component of the research depends on each member and their own work. This looser structure is vital to the lab because it ensures that work will get done in a way that allows for changes to occur frequently. Alternatively, at Brandeis, most of the academic work is personal, and only few projects require the dependence of others getting their tasks done.

 

As a result of this internship I have learned many new skills that will assist me with academics and future career plans. I have learned that Matlab is very useful in the research world. As a result, I have begun to learn Matlab and familiarize myself with the basics. I think Matlab is an important skill for my future if I decide to go into research, and, even if I decide not to, it will allow me to be able to have a greater understanding of how things are accomplished in science and medicine. Another important skill that I am building on is patience and determination. A lot of the information and topics that are worked on and discussed here in the lab are very complex and specific. At first I found it very intimidating that I did not really understand the technology and the physics behind the machines that are being used. As a result, I realized I needed to be patient and slowly repeat the readings and ask many more questions so that I could begin to understand the complexity of the material. I think this patience and determination to learn when things are tough to understand will be a useful skill in all aspects in my life, especially next year in my classes. In addition, being flexible and able to work in different work environments is an important skill to possess.

  • Ashley Bass

Post #2 – Working in a New Environment

As I enter my third month with the National Park Service, I have been reflecting a lot on how my three years at Brandeis have prepared me for this line of work. My work in the field has taught me a lot about what it means to be an environmental scientist. First and foremost, I have learned how different research is in the field as opposed to in a laboratory setting. Through my coursework at Brandeis, I have gained significant experience in a lab. A full year of lab work each for general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology gave me lots of experience for the scientific work I am doing this summer and I plan on doing as a career. However, it did not prepare me for field work in some of the ways that I thought that it would.

For my work on the coasts of the Boston Harbor Islands to document wildlife, I am working closely with a PhD candidate from UMass Boston. Last week, she gave me an important piece of advice. She told me that field work is really nothing at all like lab work. In the lab, everything must be done with precision to ensure the best results. This sort of accuracy is much more difficult to achieve in the field, as a range of other factors can vary widely.

Laying out a transect tape measure on the rocky intertidal shore of Peddocks Island

When going from the specificity of a sterile lab to climbing over rocks on a beach as the tide comes in, a lot of rules simply no longer apply. Laying out a straight line to best measure the shoreline is difficult when it is dotted with boulders. Certain species of encrusting algae growing on rocks look really similar to cyanobacteria, a type of marine bacteria. When time is of the essence, you often have to make do with the best you can before your entire work space is submerged again under the incoming tide.

Identifying shells on a sandbar with a team of other interns working on other projects. An hour later, this entire landmass was underwater.

This all being said, while I was not expecting a lot of these differences, they give my work more meaning.  My work at the National Park Service has been an amazing experience and has only strengthened my interest in field work and environmental research. I have been working for a cause that I strongly believe in and wish to continue work like this into the future. I am grateful to the National Park Service for this summer-long learning opportunity among dedicated and hard-working people who are also dedicated to environmental science and change. It has given me a renewed desire to study and fight the effects of climate change, and it has given me some experience that I could not get almost anywhere else.

– Isaiah Freedman

Further Comments on “Film Comment”

WoW, these past two weeks have flown by! It’s business as usual over here at Film Comment, and our July/August issue recently hit newsstands. My name is on the masthead, which was pretty exciting! One of my main jobs these days is to update Film Comment’s Rotten Tomatoes profile, which is another example of a job that probably isn’t that exciting but I very much enjoy. Basically, I turn the full length reviews into snappy, single sentence summaries that sum up whether the critic liked the movie or not. I’m also spearheading efforts to archive Film Comment’s prior articles, which basically means spending a lot of time in a massive Google Sheets document. Thankfully, we’re almost finished.

One thing I’ve really come to appreciate about this internship is my fellow interns! Writing criticism is a pretty specific type of writing, and it’s not really something that’s taught within Brandeis. Sure, higher ed has given me a lot of tools and shown me methods of breaking down different texts, but it’s not like there’s a class on writing 400 word reviews or why popular criticism is a worthwhile discipline on its own. Meanwhile, my fellow interns here at FC have also spent lots of time contemplating this type of writing, and what makes it special and necessary.

Meanwhile, I’m really loving living in New York City. I had a few speed bumps when I first moved here (including one major, bug related problem), but it’s all smooth sailing here now. I’m from a small town in the midwest (Champaign-Urbana IL, also known as the greatest place in the world), so the hustle and bustle of NYC isn’t exactly what I’m used to. But… I love it! You sort of have to prepare for the worst at all times (and the city never cuts you a break when you need one), but at this exact point, I’m enjoying being on the perpetual hamster wheel. With a little help from my Maps app, I’ve had a ton of fun exploring this endless concrete jungle, and it’s nice knowing I could handle living here.

Between spending time with Brandeis friends, meeting up with other (read: older, wiser and more experienced) writers for coffee and advice, my second job, and my internship, I’m busier than ever, but that’s hardly a reason to complain. I really want to bring this energy back to Brandeis with me – right now, I’m constantly juggling different pieces and working on about six things at once, and I don’t plan on slowing down during my senior year. In fact, I’d better get back to it now!

Jonah Koslofsky

Post 1: First Weeks at GreenRoots

A bilingual radio show, urban farming, and community organizing collectively summarize the first few weeks of my internship with the environmental justice organization, GreenRoots. Located in Chelsea, MA (a city just north of Boston), GreenRoots is a non-profit organization that utilizes the power of community organizing to mobilize local residents of Chelsea and East Boston around issues of environmental injustice that directly impact residents. GreenRoots engages in environmental justice work through initiatives including waterfront access on the Chelsea Creek, youth leadership development (particularly with a team of six teen leaders from Chelsea known as Environmental Chelsea Organizers), transit justice, and food justice.

Over the course of this summer, I am working collaboratively with a team of four other interns to support the GreenRoots staff across a wide range of ongoing programs. With each intern offering support for specific projects, I am involved with the food justice work and the East Boston waterfront initiative.

Before starting my work with GreenRoots, I knew that I wanted to learn more about food justice and how it is put into practice, and so I have greatly appreciated the very hands-on approach here. This involves devoting a certain number of hours each day to help out at either the Chelsea urban farm or the youth community garden by weeding, watering, planting, harvesting, and distributing food to the local residents that live in the neighborhood. These two projects (the urban farm and youth community garden) represent a very grassroots approach to working to address food insecurity through direct distribution (all the food is free) while additional events such as open community work/harvest days invite people to bring their families to the farm and learn how to grow their own food. Both of these forms of community building are an important part of the overall movement towards food sovereignty, in which members of the community feel empowered through knowledge about/access to healthy food in their neighborhood.

The East Boston waterfront initiative is an equally ambitious and wide ranging project of GreenRoots, which at its core seeks to organize community members of East Boston to address issues of environmental concern taking place along the Chelsea Creek (a body of water running in between East Boston and Chelsea), which directly impact the health and lives of residents. The major current campaign aims to oppose the proposed construction of an Eversource electrical substation on the East Boston side of the creek, as this substation would be constructed in a flood risk zone that is also a mere 100 meters away from an eight million gallon tank of jet fuel. Concerned with the potential of an explosion that could occur with this proposed site as well as alternative uses of the site that would better serve the community while not being a public health risk (such as creating a soccer field), organizers at GreenRoots are currently working to build community awareness and engagement around this project.

Lastly, one relatively new project that I have been given the opportunity to work on is a weekly radio show called GreenRoots/Raices Verdes, which is a bilingual (English and Spanish) radio show that provides space for discussions on topics relevant to East Boston and Chelsea residents by interviewing guests from a variety of local organizations who share their stories and experiences around themes such as immigration and housing. Although through a different medium, Raices Verdes is yet another way that GreenRoots seeks to build community networks and power.

[The Chelsea Urban Farm on Miller St]

Chapter 2: The midway point

Over the last few weeks, I have become a lot more comfortable with the environment inside and outside my workplace. Blueport Commerce has an open space environment which creates a collaborative atmosphere. I like this because it allows me to easily ask questions to my supervisor and other people in my team. Along with this, there are pair programming desks and many conference rooms which people can use to collaborate together. My co-workers have been great and four Northeastern interns just joined last week as well. It’s nice to also have a few people my age go through the same process and learn together. In terms of outside the workplace, it has been really nice living in the city and being close to so many places. Living alone and cooking has also been a great experience.

Some of the dogs at work 🙂
Watching the Women’s World Cup at work

I have felt that the world of work is different from university life in many ways; like differences in the social environment and the practical use of what we have learned in our courses. In university, we are mainly told what to do in terms of assignments and projects which differs from an internship or job where we have to use the concepts we have learned and apply them to real-world problems. This has taught me a lot because it has forced me to learn and explore programming languages and software tools that I would probably not have explored. Recently at work, I had to learn PowerShell which is a scripting language to edit a Powershell script to make it more efficient. This made me feel accomplished because I learned something new and made something that will be useful for other people in my team. Another instance is having to learn C# and Selenium which is a web browser automation tool. It’s interesting to learn all the different things you can automate and test the websites. 

Through this summer internship, I am learning, not only programming skills but also interpersonal skills which will help me in many different areas. Last week I had to demo a PowerShell script to the rest of the team and showcase what I have been working on and how it will be useful to us. This was a nice experience to have to demo your work and also see what other people have been working on. Blueport uses the agile work environment in which we work on specific tasks for 2 weeks at a time (called a sprint) and at the end of the 2 weeks, we reflect how that sprint went and what areas we need to improve on. I feel that this is a great technique because we create goals and reflect every sprint and I think this can be used even at college. Overall, the last four weeks have taught me a lot and I am excited to see what the rest of the summer holds for me!

First Couple Weeks at Hariri Imaging Lab at MGH

This summer I am working as a research intern for Dr. Hariri at the Hariri Imaging Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The Hariri Imaging Lab focuses on the development and clinical application of high-resolution optical imaging for early detection and diagnosis of pulmonary diseases, such as fibrotic lung disease and lung cancer. The Hariri Imaging Lab also aims to increase diagnostic yield through real-time lung tumor biopsy guidance as well as the integration of in vivo optical microscopy into the practice of clinical medicine and pathology. This would create a form of virtual microscopy so that tissue removal would not be needed.

Currently, the Hariri Imaging Lab is performing clinical studies to evaluate how well in vivo imaging can detect disease in the lungs. In addition, there are translational studies which aim to create imaging criteria for in vivo imaging based on excised human tissue. The Hariri Imaging lab is developing new technology to enhance imaging modalities to identify disease.

Before the start of the internship, I had no prior experience with lung pathology or Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Therefore, I spent a week before I went to the lab reading many research papers Dr. Hariri’s lab published as well as research papers on the physics and purpose of  OCT in pathology, which is the technology that is primarily used in this lab.

Once I officially started working at the lab, the research team gave me a tour of the lab and showed me one of the OCT machines, which helped me better understand the technicalities of the papers I had previously read. For the first three days, I was introduced to the more clinical and medical side of lung pathology by observing clinical procedures and surgeries. I gained an understanding of the medical process of diagnosis and treatment by watching a resident resect a lung and then observing how Dr. Hariri diagnoses the biopsy and creates a treatment plan.

histology slide of lung biopsy

Currently, I am assisting with the research aspect of the Hariri Imaging Lab. I am working directly with the research technician to figure out a way to streamline the diagnostic process of fibrotic lung disease. I have been working on the digital manipulation of histopathological tissue samples by classifying different tissue regions. I also have been segmenting the histology slides so that the computer is able to process the histology more easily. These steps are necessary to digitalize this process. We are hoping that this digitalization of the diagnostic process will assist pathologists in determining the progression of fibrotic disease.

To date, I have already increased my knowledge of lung anatomy and the progression of disease in a formal setting. I am challenged and enjoy learning the research lab methodology that incorporates both science and medicine and with many different people in the process. I am excited to better understand the research that the Hariri Imaging Lab is focusing on each day and to learn the magnitude of impact this research has on a global scale and the importance of translational and clinical research in medicine.

Ashley Bass

Midsummer Post: Russian Studies at AEI

Dupont Circle is, in my opinion (and I am sure that the local lease rates would support this), arguably one of the best places to live in the city because it has the perfect balance of a residential neighborhood that is just a block or two away from a commercial district packed with bars, shops, eateries and more. Walking around is especially nice because the area is filled with an even mix of nice apartments and beautiful, lavish buildings which often serve as the embassy or ambassadorial residence for dozens of countries—case in point, I am a stone’s throw away from the embassies of Sierra Leone, Argentina and Georgia. Living in Dupont Circle this summer has definitely increased my affinity and desire to move to a similar sort of neighborhood when I start working full time in the near future, wherever that may be. Some metropolises in the world never sleep, and DC may have its rush hour times, but I have come to appreciate the natural ebb and flow of human traffic in the city. Also, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to live at the International Students House in DC since in addition to being a six-minute walk from work, I made several friendships there that I am sure will last a lifetime.

At work, I have really enjoyed the process of familiarizing myself with the various writers, thinkers and biases present in the Russian media and I definitely feel like my understanding of Russia has deepened considerably since the start of my internship. I should also mention that I am a huge fan of the two highly nutritious “five-star meals” that AEI serves each day (I basically won the lottery when it comes to saving food on meals during the week). I also really love the overall ambiance and overall character of the think tank world.

The “World of Work” is a different universe altogether when compared to university life. It is much easier to settle into a consistent rhythm when you have the same 9-5 schedule five days a week as opposed to a variety of different classes interspersed throughout the week, with gaps in between for additional work. I think another major difference between university and real world life is that in a classroom setting, you are given a set of standards to meet—the technical term for that is a syllabus. In the real world, you have to make your own syllabus because after the initial training period is over, you’re on your own and people expect results regardless. This position has been far from easy, but ultimately, it has significantly enhanced my Russian reading comprehension skills, as well as my general understanding of Russian society and politics. Finally, the networking potential that I have gained just by being here for the summer is unbelievable, and I have already begun meeting with relevant connected people in the field while also cultivating a list of possible future employers.

 

 

Continuing my Internship at the Jewish Museum

I love working at the Jewish Museum. Growing up outside of New York City, I had the frequent privilege of walking along Museum Mile throughout high school. It was always a dream to be able to work at an institution on Museum Mile, in the company of so much great work. This summer, at the Jewish Museum, I have the opportunity to be surrounded by these museums that I admired so much when I first began to study art. In my work at the Jewish Museum I am doing research for an upcoming exhibition about a female art dealer named Edith Halpert. In addition to the research I am doing at the Jewish Museum itself, I am also doing research in the extensive Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is an opportunity I have because I am at a Museum on Museum Mile and can easily visit the many museums in this area during the workday. As I am going into my senior year at Brandeis, I am beginning the process of writing a thesis in art history during my time at the Jewish Museum. As I develop my research skills in my work for the museum, I am also able to take advantage of the Museum’s archives to develop my own research I will use in the coming year. 

My World of Work internship allows me to see how my academic training in art history translates to the active art world. A museum is a business, after all, and there is so much that goes into getting the awesome art on display. In my internship, I am learning so much about the inner workings of a museum. As public programs intern, I interact with many people who are featured in the evening events hosted by the Museum. This past week, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City held a concert at the Museum. Part of my job included ordering the pizza for students before the concert. While this may not seem like the most glamorous aspect of art institutions, these young performers needed dinner! Although ordering pizza is not directly related to art, this part of museum work is imperative to creating good programming. As much as I love the research I get to do at the Museum, this part of my internship makes me proud because it relates to the Museum’s ability to function smoothly. In addition to a chore like this, I am assisting in the day-to-day tasks that go into programming for a museum, such as managing contracts and sitting in on meetings regarding the logistics of these events. I am gaining a lot of organizational and technical skills that are crucial to the smooth running of art institutions. I love the academic side of art history but I find it exciting to do the tasks that may seem less creative — this is the work experience I’ll need to bring my creative ideas into fruition in a gallery, museum, auction house or other sorts of art space one day. 

Hannah Kressel ’20

Post 2: Language justice and other learnings at GreenRoots

One of the core values of the work environment at GreenRoots that has left the biggest impression on me is how the organization and those in it put language justice into practice. In a society that very often prioritizes English over other languages, the matter of translation is also often assumed to mean simply translating English into other languages, and not as much the other way around. Since GreenRoots is a bilingual organization using both Spanish and English, one way that language justice informs how the organization operates is that staff meetings are typically conducted in Spanish and then translated into English only as needed. This routine practice is an example of what it looks like to try shifting the dynamic that often places unequal burden on non-English speakers in order for those people to be able to access information, resources, and conversations relating to the work of community organizations.

I have observed that it is equally as important for this to be the case not just in communication within the organization among staff, but also throughout community engagement such as at events. While it is one step to provide materials such as event flyers in multiple languages, or even to use a Spanish script when door-knocking/canvassing, using only these methods can limit the opportunity for meaningful conversations with community members, which are crucial for those representing an organization to use as opportunities to listen to the hopes and concerns of local residents.  

For instance, the majority of conversations that take place at events such as the free canoeing/kayaking days on the Chelsea Creek take place in Spanish. This is highly important because it is in these conversations with individuals in which we contextualize the canoeing/kayaking event with its multiple purposes – to improve open and free access to the waterfront for the community, and also to raise awareness around the proposed construction of the electrical sub-station (the no to Eversource campaign mentioned in blog post #1) because people can literally canoe/kayak right up to the potential construction site.  

Chelsea Creek on free canoeing/kayaking day

Working with GreenRoots differs from academic life mainly in that connecting with people and building relationships with community members takes a longer time and happens on a slower timeline than when living on a campus where other students, faculty, and other administrators you may want to get in contact with can all be found in very close proximity to you and each other. I do not think that this is a negative comparison, it simply means that it takes more creativity in order to engage people outside of a confined university context.

Helping out with community events like the canoeing/kayaking days on Chelsea Creek has been just one example of such creativity that simultaneously puts language justice in practice.  

Halfway Through!

I’m about halfway through my internship at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), and I have enjoyed it immensely so far. While the Office of Regional and Multilateral Affairs unfortunately has no windows, my colleagues and the interesting information that I am constantly learning about makes up for the lack of sunlight. I have been lucky to work closely with two of our office’s staff who previously did internships with the State Department. From their own experiences, they know how valuable it is for me to work on substantive content and have assigned me projects that have allowed me to better understand issues like women’s empowerment programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the relationship between NEA and Congress. Unlike when I’m at Brandeis and have a set schedule with classes predetermined at the beginning of the year, my projects differ more frequently at my internship, and I have the opportunity to further research and explore interesting topics as I learn about them.

In general, working at the Harry S. Truman (HST) building, which is also known as the main State Department building, has allowed me to have access to additional interesting opportunities. Conferences that are held at HST are easy for interns to slip into. One example of this was when I had some free time in my schedule, and I was able to sit in on a panel discussing space initiatives around the world. This coming week, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom will be occurring. I will be volunteering as a control officer, which means that I am assigned to escort a distinguished guest who was invited to attend and speak to a panel about her experiences as a survivor of religious persecution. I look forward to this responsibility as much as I look forward to the panels that I will be able to sit in on promoting religious freedom that will be occurring throughout the three-day event. When panels are not happening, there is still so much to see and do throughout HST. In one corner of the building, there is the Hillary Rodham Clinton Pavilion, which currently has an exhibit on consular and diplomatic work throughout the world.

 

So far, I have had the opportunity to develop my technical writing skills by writing summaries of events I’ve attended, congressional briefings, and reports from the embassies and consulates throughout the region. While the skills necessary for writing academic, lengthy papers are valuable, it seems that concise summaries will be more useful if this is the line of work that I ultimately end up in. Another skill that I have developed and during the first half of my internship is an appreciation for attention to extreme detail. When preparing documents for the senior leadership of NEA, I have developed the habit of double checking the amount of spaces and the formatting of each aspect of the document to ensure that the highest quality document has my name on it at the end of the day. I will continue improving  on this transferable skill, making sure that each document look appropriately uniform and organized.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

Learning in the Lab

Over the last few weeks I have become comfortable and familiar with my work environment in the Columbia Irving Medical Center. It is now a routine each morning to walk 20 blocks from my apartment in New York, go into the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons building, go up to the 15th floor and begin with my work, looking at kidney transplant rejection in the department of pathology and cell biology. My mentor is kind and helpful and wants very much for me to learn as much as I can while being helpful to her. This has created a very positive experience for me in the lab, and has enabled me to explore many opportunities to learn more.

In the pathology lab, I have learned a great deal about tissue staining and cellular imaging, both of which I knew very little about prior to my internship. While preparing for my internship, I read about kidney anatomy and function, but I now understand the microscopic level of biopsy samples and how to properly decipher cellular images. Just recently, my week was spent doing a multi-day staining lab procedure. The lab process was a three day process of intubation, buffer washings, and rinsing of different chemicals. The goal of the process was to do a multiplex “stain” where antibodies were used to stain particular cell tissue, so that the different dyes could identify different cell types clearly under a microscope. For example, if there can be 6 different dyes on one kidney biopsy tissue cross section, then we stained with an antibody for different types of T-cells, B-cells (both lymphocyte immune cells), macrophages, nuclear stain (DAPI). In simple terms: we want to see if the kidney was attacked by the immune system. When having the antibody bind to the antigen on different immune cells, it allows us to see under a microscope if immune cells are all over a kidney.

Normally, if the body has a foreign body, it is great for the immune system to attack the pathogen or cancerous cell and try to destroy it, but in the case of a kidney transplant, it is actually terrible. We want a patient’s body to accept the kidney transplant as something that’s trying to help. After the staining, the slide can then be looked at under a microscope, images are taken and then these images are analyzed further on advanced biotechnological software to count cell types electronically. By looking at the types of immune cells, their spatial orientation and the quantitative amount in certain areas, it is possible to determine how to better prevent kidney transplant rejection.

My work at the Irving Medical Center with the help of “World of Work”, is different from university life in an exciting way. In my course study at school, it’s easy to get lost in a book and lose sight of the larger purpose and real benefit to serving the medical field. In other words, potentially lose sight of how you can impact the health of people in the real world. This experience is making the connection of scientific study to improving the health of patients very clear. It is strengthening my motivation to work in the medical field and to continue to pursue studies in science. I have now seen the direct impact that medical professions have on individual people’s lives. Our analysis is directly helping current patients as well as helping to further the study of successful kidney transplantation.

My work at Columbia is certainly going to help to improve my skills and confidence in the laboratories at Brandeis. It has also helped to strengthen my analytical and reasoning skills over the summer. So far, I’ve had a lot of fun and learning along the way!

Arielle Leeman, 2022

5 Week Journey: Running A Hospital

This blog marks 5 weeks into my internship journey where I have fully immersed myself into the experience as a New York University Medical School employee. Throughout my experience thus far, I have learned an abundance of crucial skills important in a work environment. Moreover, I have learned insights into the process of hospital medical school operations. 

We have many weekly meetings at my internship and during these meetings I learn about how research and operations in a medical school works. I have always been aware that medical school is a hard journey; however throughout this experience I have concluded that running a medical school may be quite harder. There are various teams and leaders from diverse backgrounds required to come together to ensure a medical school and hospital runs smoothly. Running a big operation like a hospital requires everyone to pay attention to the small details.

As for my specific role, the intern team has different skills and assets, therefore we are assigned different projects. My projects specifically are correlated with research and data analysis. I conduct a lot of data cleaning and statistical analysis on large datasets using R, SPSS, and STATA. I always work efficiently and quickly to provide my results at every meeting and to demonstrate my strong work ethic. 

As an intern and part of this team, I am often jumping around to various locations. I usually work at Bellevue Hospital Center or NYU Langone Tisch Hospital. Since the majority of my work requires me to be on a computer coding I am often sitting at a cubicle or out on the balcony at a desk. 

As someone who has been working since I was 16 years old, I have always had a strong work ethic. However, since my internship has been a 5 days a week 9:00am-5:00pm job, I have begun to understand the lifestyle of a full-time working adult. I enjoy having a routine schedule where I work efficiently for 8 hours a day and then I have my evening to relax or catch up on other responsibilities. 

One of the best aspects of my internship is that every week we meet different members of different teams in the hospital to understand their role. We witness people from different backgrounds working on completely different projects in the hospital; however, they are all an important part of helping the hospital run efficiently. I believe these events allow the interns to make connections with people working in different fields. Personally, I have enjoyed meeting all these people and making connections. I learn about so many different careers essential in a hospital. 

During the remainder time at my internship, I will continue to work diligently to complete all of my projects and be prepared to present the results of my projects in the end. Moreover, I will continue to make great friendships and connections during my time at NYU Medical School and in New York City. 

 

School And Work Are Nothing Alike

Outside the main treatment area of UVa

I have always felt like I was being treated like an equal, as opposed to being simply an intern, which I have greatly enjoyed.  The sense that I am being helpful and that that help is valued is wonderful.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people that I’m working with, both as colleagues and friends outside of working (and getting introduced to some wonderful new foods from the restaurants nearby).  It feels like I’m doing something useful with my time, especially because I get to read the thank you notes that departments send after we’ve done a simulation for them.

The type of work that I’m doing is very different from what I do in school.  So much of college is spent doing input-type work: reading, memorizing, trying to retain as much information as possible, with a little bit of time spent doing output/mental work in the form of assignments and papers.  Interning has had bits of these, but interspersed with social work (coordinating with people), physical work (prepping simulations and moving the training supplies to different rooms in the hospital), and routine work (making individualized schedules for a class, going through post-training survey answers).  The balance of tasks between different parts of my brain makes this type of work much more sustainable for me, whereas the constant input that school requires tends to wear me down.  Seeing that not all jobs are as energy draining as school makes me much more optimistic about what post-college life will be like.

I am learning a lot about how to best phrase things.  Part of running simulations means convincing department heads that it would be worth it spend money out of their budget to pay for the training.  During the training themselves, and during the routine classes the center runs, the way feedback is given to participants makes a big difference in what they take away from the training.  I am seeing how different departments structure their teams and how that changes the ways people work together.  In addition, my EMT skills are improving, as I get to see what happens to patients after they leave the care of EMS and transfer to the hospital. 

I am also seeing how long it takes to bring a project from start to finish.  From a department head requesting a simulation, to the discussion on what the scenario for the simulation should be, clarifying learning goals, putting together the supplies for the simulation, and doing the paperwork afterwards, all for an hour training session.

First Weeks at UVa HealthSystem

In the main training room, the manikin and mock headboard to simulation a hospital room. This was where Intern Bootcamp was held.

I’m interning at UVa’s Life Support Learning Center this summer.  UVa Hospital is a 600 bed Level 1 Trauma Center and tertiary academic medical center with multiple outpatient treatment centers.  The Life Support Learning Center provides simulation training and education in medical emergencies for the hospital staff, which includes everyone from the doctors to the administrative staff.

So far, I’ve helped run an AdvancedEMT class with the Prehospital Program (our sister department) as a patient during their final practical exam, and helping to set up the skill stations the day before.  I also helped with ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support), a required class for the new doctors that we run every June, a logistically challenging class to organize.

I help run Intern Bootcamp for all the first year residents at UVa (doctors who just finished medical school and have never been in charge of a patient before).  We take groups of five residents, one at a time give them a basic patient scenario, where the patient isn’t dying, but something is not going right.  At the end of 5-10 minutes, the group(the residents, their chief – people who finished their third year of residency and are in charge of orienting the first years) sits down and talk about what went well and what could be done better next time.  It gives the first year residents a chance to be the one making the decisions about a patient in a place where they can’t really mess up, so that when they first deal with an actual patient, they have something to fall back on.

One of the bigger projects I’ve been a part of is running a board game type simulation for the Emergency Department (ED) management staff.  UVa just finished building a new wing of the hospital, which the ED will be moving into soon.  Along with a new layout comes new challenges for where to place patients to make sure no one nurse or doctor has too many, or has two on opposite sides of the department.  We got a large map of the new department, creating fake patients (cards with made-up patient information on them), and ran a simulated Monday.  Every half hour some patients come in, some go out, and people can be moved around within the ED.  This simulation has shown the pros and cons of the new floor plan, places where things tend to get difficult, and has allowed the ED staff to play with different techniques for dealing with these difficulties.  This way, when the new ED opens, they’ll already know how to handle it.

This summer, I wanted to improve my time management skills, which I think is happening slowly but consistently.  I wanted to see if I enjoy being in an organizational or teaching role, both of which I have decided I definitely enjoy.  I wanted to be able to take a project from start to finish.  All of the simulations that I’ve worked on so far have either been routine simulations that were already put together or new simulations that were already in progress when I arrived.  However, as the summer continues there are some simulations that have been scheduled but work has not begun on, and I am excited to work on those.

Interning at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan

I started my internship at the Jewish Museum (https://thejewishmuseum.org) four weeks ago. I am working as the Public Programs intern at the Museum, assisting with all public programming and with longer term research tasks for the education department, as a whole. The Jewish Museum is a museum dedicated to the preservation, understanding, and enjoyment of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people. The museum is located on Manhattan’s Museum Mile, neighboring the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, among many others. This location has proved very useful to me as an intern as I am often asked to conduct research in one of the neighboring museums.

Additionally, in my job as a public programs intern, I am working on events often sponsored or in conjunction with other museums along the Museum Mile. For example, one of the first events I staffed as an intern was the annual Museum Mile evening in June when all the museums within these parameters are open extra hours and for free. This was a great introduction to the communal culture of the museums in this part of Manhattan. For this event, the Jewish Museum hosted a band to play outside of the Museum for the night and a craft for people walking by. My work as the public program’s intern included preparing for this craft and assisting the band throughout the night, as needed.

The Jewish Museum has quite a robust program of events throughout the summer and I love being able to help out with these different occasions. I have had the opportunity to engage with the public on behalf of the Museum at all of these events, whether it be a concert or an adult studio class, and in each instance I find myself learning and gaining skills. I love discussing the exhibitions with visitors — honing my skills and perspectives on museum education — and being a source of information about the museum as an institution to guests. I find that, in these experiences, I am learning skills I wouldn’t learn in academia. The ability to transfer information accurately to all different demographics of the Museum’s patrons is something I am working hard to gain and become comfortable with.

As I am expanding my knowledge of art history in the research I do during the day for the education department, in the evenings and on weekends at various events, I am given the opportunity to share this information and receive feedback. Throughout the rest of my internship, I hope to continue to hone these skills and learn more about what it means to be a representative of a cultural institution interacting with all different members of the Museum’s community — staff, museum patrons, and artists invited to the museum for various programs. Additionally, I hope to expand my knowledge of the Museum’s collection and become as well-versed as possible in contemporary methods of education and research within cultural institutions.

This is a photo of me working at the craft table during Museum Mile a few weeks back.

 

 

Hannah Kressel ’20

Post #1 – A Summer at the National Parks of Boston

This summer, I am working for the Natural Resource team at the National Parks of Boston, spending the majority of my time out in the Boston Harbor Islands. The Boston Harbor Island National and State Park is a collection of 34 islands and peninsulas covering about 1500 acres in and around Boston that are overseen by the National Park Service. As a lifelong resident of the Boston area, I didn’t even realize that the area existed until recently and how much natural beauty, cultural significance, and history these sites held. Including ancient Native American settlements, Civil War forts, a smallpox hospital, World War II training facilities, and much more, the Boston Harbor Islands are really an incredible place.

Map of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

The main goal of the Natural Resource team is to preserve and protect the natural resources that the Boston Harbor Islands have to offer. In addition to the many significant historical and cultural sites that I mentioned above, the islands are home to a unique type of habitat found nowhere else in the United States called a “drowned drumlin”, which formed as the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age.  Their rarity gives them ecological significance and importance for both study and conservation efforts

My work this summer is largely field-based and will be focused on two main projects. The first project is one that the Natural Resource team has been working on for years now – invasive plant management and native plant restoration. Since Europeans arrived in Boston Harbor about 400 years ago, the islands began to transform from relatively pristine environments to sites rife with invasive species that grew unchecked and smothered out native species. Part of my efforts with the Natural Resource team is to cut back and remove invasives, such as multiflora rose and oriental bittersweet, in order to leave room for native species to regrow. In addition, we are replanting young natives that have been grown from seedlings in an effort to remove the homogeneity that has overtaken the islands. The purpose of this is to return the islands to their historical biodiversity so they can be seen and admired by visitors as the natural landscapes that they had been prior to disturbance.

For my second project, I am working with a PhD candidate from UMass Boston to inventory marine species found on the islands’ intertidal zones (the shore space between low and high tide). By assessing sites near eroding seawalls and cliff-sides, she hopes to create baseline data on sites that could have new seawalls built within the next few years to mitigate the effects of climate change. By doing so, these sites can be used to show the effects that artificial structures have on coastlines in terms of biodiversity loss. This project fascinates me and working on it has been my favorite part of the job so far. Between measuring coasts, searching for crabs, wading in the subtidal areas to assess mussel beds, and much more, I look forward to spending more time on this project.

Wading during high tide on Peddocks Island to assess water quality with PhD candidate researcher (left).

This summer, I have two main goals: to get experience doing environmental research and to spend as much time outdoors as possible. In the past few weeks, I have immersed myself in my work for the Natural Resource team to get the most out of it that I can. Even when crawling around in tick-infested rose bushes and going up to my waist in frigid Boston water, I have enjoyed it all since I know that my work is contributing to the fight against and understanding of environmental issues.

Commenting On My Time at “Film Comment”

Hello! It’s me, Jonah Koslofsky, certifying that I have entered the World of Work! Thanks to the generosity of this grant, I am currently interning at Film at Lincoln Center. But just what does that mean? Well, Film at Lincoln Center – formerly known as The Film Society of Lincoln Center – is an essential section of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (the organization that’s also home to the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera). Film at Lincoln Center recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and, year-round, the institution runs film programming that plays at Lincoln Center’s movie theaters, and hosts the annual New York Film Festival every fall.

Film at Lincoln Center also publishes a bi-monthly film publication called “Film Comment.” That’s who I’m interning for!

“Film Comment” is a top-tier magazine that covers everything in the world of independent cinema. It’s also got a website regularly updated with content that won’t quite fit into the issues, and a weekly podcast.  Back when I first started (on May 20, a whole month ago!) the magazine was in the midst of coverage of the Cannes Film Fest. The French festival is perhaps the most prestigious place to premiere a new movie, a hotbed of filmmakers and journalists. So for the first few weeks, my job was simple: transcribe the fresh interviews between “Film Comment” contributors and the directors whose brand new work was just being unveiled.

My first day I typed up this interview with French actress-turned-auteur Mati Diop. Her new movie Atlantique would go on to win the Grand Prix (basically the silver metal of the festival). I also transcribed this interview with Bertrand Bonello, another French filmmaker. Funnily enough, his new movie Zombie Child, is also about France confronting its colonial past through the use of a supernatural conceit.

I actually really enjoy the transcription process: I get to listen to these interesting interviews, and hear about the inspirations and intentions behind films that I genuinely want to know more about. A lot of the material I’ve been transcribing has been about filmmakers whose work I am woefully unfamiliar with, which encourages me to get out of my comfort zone and watch international movies I should’ve already seen. Case-in-point: before she made Atlantique, Mati Diop starred in Claire Denis’ 35 Shots of Rum, which I quickly (finally) watched, and promptly loved.

Then last week, I transcribed an interview with one of my favorite horror movie filmmakers. I can’t say too much more (because the interview won’t be published until the next issue of “Film Comment” hits newsstands), but I was especially tickled because I actually met this filmmaker in an ice cream parlor in a totally unrelated interaction, and I was already very, very excited for his next movie.

My other responsibilities include proofreading and helping FC archive their back issues. My goal for the summer is to get some of my own writing onto the site or into the magazine, but it’s a slow and steady process. So far, the internship is off to a solid start!

Starting at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

This summer, I am interning at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ (NEA) Office of Regional and Multilateral Affairs (RMA) in Washington DC. Due to the extensive length of time required to receive my security clearance, I was unable to start my internship until this past Monday, June 17. As a result, I am still getting settled and spent my first week attending orientation, setting up an email account, and completing mandatory trainings on topics such as cybersecurity. RMA works on issues that broadly affect the region, and in the coming months, I will be specifically assisting with the Congressional and Global Affairs portfolios. This will include projects relating to NEA’s work with the Hill and women’s issues and empowerment, human rights, religious freedom, and human trafficking.

I have three goals for my internship experience this summer. My academic goal is to improve my research skills through the accumulation of information that will be necessary for me to work on projects relating to topics such as the current women’s economic empowerment work being done in the region and the ongoing confirmation processes of ambassadorial candidates for Posts in the Near East region. I also anticipate constantly doing research to stay informed on the news in the Middle East and North Africa, which is often a busy region where things frequently change, and this summer so far proves to be no exception.

My career goal for this summer is to network with people working in the State Department, both within the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and the entire department in general to learn more about their career trajectories that brought them to Washington DC and to learn about what their current jobs entail. For so long, I have imagined working for the State Department, and it is exciting to see firsthand what it is like. I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet colleagues who share the same interests as me but are a few steps ahead in their professional journeys, and everybody that I met during my first week has been incredibly kind and generous with their time.

Finally, a personal goal of mine is to see how I enjoy living and working in Washington DC. Coming from a suburb of Dallas, the Washington DC area has been a place that I have aspired to work in for a while, without knowing what it will be like. Part of my excitement in receiving this internship related to my eagerness to be exposed to DC and to begin feeling comfortable exploring it. I was in DC for over a week before my internship began and filled that time with Smithsonian museums and visiting monuments and Congress. Walking around the city and running into iconic buildings like Congress and the White House has not gotten old, and so far, I am really loving this city.

 

I look forward to being able to update this blog with more information about my experience as I get further into my internship!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

Welcome to Cologne! My Summer Journey

It is junior year summer, and the primary goal for the coming months is to maximize the fun in the crazy challenge that I took upon myself by coming to Germany.

When I reflected over my last summer’s experience abroad I recognized my want to gain international work experience in Europe. A new continent, new country, new people, and new culture. Despite having eleven years of German language study and some German waltz moves, I had never actually visited the country – and I knew being thrown into a completely new scenario would bring the challenge and growth I was searching. This means, in practice, that this summer would function as a huge leverage point in my professional work experience, social environment, skills that I hone, and my personal journey.

Brandenburg Tor in Berlin

So here I find myself, writing from TH Köln – Technology, Arts, Sciences (Cologne University of Applied Sciences), the largest applied sciences university in Germany, and quite an astonishing place. Although the building might be a bit old, the place is breathing of innovation, of “cultural and technological breakthroughs of high societal relevance” (as cited on the website), and of progress. The Deutz location where I work, which is on the “other side” of the Rhine as most Cologne people would say, is mainly for Engineering, Physics, Media, and Technology, so my Institute of Media and Imaging Technology at the Computer Graphics and Computer Science Lab fits in quite well.

Welcomed with an office view that is hard to beat (a 360 view including the Rhine, the famous Cathedral, and much more) and intelligent and fun professors and supervisors, I feel, after two weeks, quite at home here.

TH Koln Deutz where I work

As fitting for my Experimental WOW Grant – the project I will be working on is similarly an intersection of topics and is literally an ‘experiment’. The lab work conducted here specializes in virtual and augmented reality, with our project’s focus being examining presence and collaboration within a virtual environment as a response to auditory signals. Although I hadn’t known what project I would be working on prior to coming to Germany, the work fits quite well with my lab work at the Memory and Cognition Lab at Brandeis University – an added bonus. What is especially interesting is that the projects we are working on are collaborations not only between centers within the university but also between the university and industry. The result is science that is directly applicable to real-world problems facing the industry and society currently, something that I really care about in my education goals.

Rhine River during sunset with the Cologne Cathedral in the background

In addition to gaining a comprehensive understanding of German culture and life, I am hoping to attain a few goals professionally. Mainly these include planning a research project in XR, coding and building the necessary VR environment, running participants to gather data, and hopefully having the time to analyze and synthesize findings. This internship – like any – is a race against time, with a steep learning curve in both social, professional, and academic goals. I could not be more excited, energized, and interested in this process of being exposed to such new topics while in a learning and supportive environment.

 

Shai Dinnar ’20

Co-working buzz

I knew I wanted to spend summer back home, in Slovakia, so when I got the chance to intern for an NGO I was over the moon. My official position is ‘marketing intern’ for Slovak National Office of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. So far I have been working on smaller tasks that had to be done before the end of the school year in Slovakia (last day of June). It meant a lot of mailing had to be done – certificates, posters, letters of recognition, as well as a couple of Instagram and Facebook posts about events for teachers, birthdays of the Duke of Edinburgh and so on.

Twin City – business is where my internship located
Morning view of the terrace

The National office is located in the center of Bratislava in a co-working space. It means we are surrounded by several startups, some entrepreneurs and couple remote offices of corporations. It has many perks such as meeting interesting people, having almost mandatory “pet someone’s dog” break, free coffee and different space to work at (open space desks, so-called ‘aquariums’ for one or two people, private desks, couches, terrace, kitchen bar, etc.). The downside of co-working space is the never-ending buzz. People talk and call loudly, dogs are barking, sometimes there are babies crying, the coffee machine is also not the quietest. So it took some time to find my way around it, get comfortable and find places where I can focus the most. Now I know I prefer coming to work before most of the people, around 8am, and have a head start on my tasks for the day. I schedule meetings for the afternoon as the morning time for my deep work.

1/4 of the mailing I had done
My usual view – official Instagram, my all-access card, papers with notes and ideas and my colleagues
Pheobie – the office dog

My first two weeks, apart from smaller projects, were filled with constant meetings with other team members. The National Office has 14 members and my mentor told me to schedule meeting with every single one, to get to know them and their responsibilities. It gave me the space to explore different ‘departments’ and see whether there is something else that I would like to do.  My mentors and the director of the NGO gave me the freedom to learn not just about marketing but other areas such as partnership and sponsorship. I highly appreciate this mentality, especially in such a small institution. All the departments are interconnected and in order to do one thing correctly, I have to understand all perspectives.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By-PeImHu8o/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Right now, I have some sort of routine. I started working on a long-term project, campaign for Instagram and Facebook. On Tuesday, 25th June, I have a meeting with my mentor about the strategy which I am preparing. We will discuss what we post and when, how it is going to look like, what our goals are, who our main audience is, etc. Until then, I am finishing a few smaller things from the previous week.  It is a pilot year of Ambassador program and I am in charge of any communication and marketing related to it (with the help and consultation from my mentor).

The experience so far directly relates to and contributes to the fulfillment of my goals, which are:

  1. Improving written communication, especially in Slovak language (articles, emails, PR posts)
  2. Developing my creative skills in Canva, photoshop and similar portals (by creating posters, infographics, etc.)
  3. Learning more about Social Media marketing (metrics, how to measure goals)
Coffee shop near our office where I spend my lunch break (me in the background. I found the picture on the story of the place).
Another perk of co-working: There is always food! Free food should I mention.

Throughout the first month, I plan to add goals that I would like to achieve by working with colleagues from a different department. This week I am attending the Executive Board Meeting and next week, I might be shadowing the director in a business meeting. I am excited to be exposed to new experience and meet inspiring people from business, education and the NGO sector.

 

 

Sabina Simkova ’22

Kidneys at Columbia

This summer I am doing kidney transplant rejection research at the Columbia University Irving Medical center. The start to my internship has been wonderful! On my first day, I was filled with excitement and nervousness.  As I arrived at the Starbucks on the corner of Broadway and 168th in NYC, I was greeted by my supervisor and by my lab partner. Each morning and afternoon I take a brisk walk from my apartment on 186th, just 18 blocks away. Arriving at the Starbucks, that first morning, I was shown the route to the lab. My lab partner is from Finland, and as the first person that I have met from Finland, it will be great to do research together and also learn a bit about Finish culture.

Within the Columbia Irving Medical center there are many different departments, along with the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. You can see in the photo here the entrance to my building, titled the “College of Physicians and Surgeons – School of Medicine”. On some of the floors of the building the labs are specifically for medical and surgical medicine students. The floor that I am on however, is a part of the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. Within this department, there are dozens of doctors doing both clinical work, as well as conducting research.

The doctor that I am working for specializes in

renal pathology, looking at the kidneys and the urinary system. She has patients who she often does not see face to face. As a pathologist, she will usually get the tissue samples on a slide for those patients needing medical attention. She will then look at the tissue sample under a microscope and, with a high level of expertise, she can withdraw critical information from looking at the cells and make diagnosis or predictions. The research looks specifically at kidney transplants and when they are rejected. After a person has kidney failure in both of their kidneys, they can either go on dialysis (this involves getting their blood filtered once, twice or even three times a week), or go on the transplant waiting list. 
The waiting list can take a long time. When someone finally receives a new kidney, there is a shockingly high percentage of people that reject the new kidney. In America, 21% of patients reject a kidney within 5 years of getting a transplant. A kidney transplant would be rejected when the immune system does not see the new kidney as trying to help the body, but rather as a pathogen (a foreign substance) trying to harm the body, thus causing the immune system to attack and reject the kidney transplant. In an attempt to avoid this problem, patients that have a kidney transplant are put onto anti-rejection medication (immunosuppressants) that suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the newly acquired kidney. I am helping do research which attempts to determine why the kidney transplant rejection is taking place in order to prevent it. To do this, we must analyze the spatial quantitative distribution of T cells (immune cells) in human kidneys that are rejected. Over the past two weeks, I have been learning the intricacies of kidney anatomy, working in the lab to do immunohistochemical slide staining, to then have had the opportunity to analyze the cellular tissue on advanced computer software. I also went to a seminar downtown near Penn Station to learn about an imaging software, to help me better use it in the lab. My goal is to learn a ton more, and to make an impact on the research in the lab. Stay tuned for next time where I will share more scientific detail about work in the lab and explanations of the kidney anatomy and cellular immune response reasons for rejection. Hope you are having a good start to the summer! 

A Summer in Showbiz

 

        While many spend their summers outside in the sun, I have been crafting in dark alleys, balancing on scaffoldings, and sprinting through the streets of Boston. Why? ‘Cause that’s showbiz.

Eddie Shields, on right, is a Brandeis alum!

       As the Production Management intern for the Speakeasy Stage Company, there is never a moment of downtime. I have become an Olympic multitasker. Sometimes I’m in the office reading scripts, mailing checks or organizing Equity files. Other times, days are spent bouncing between the two theatres next door, each home to multiple stages that we rent, juggling props, moving set pieces, or delivering equipment. When I’m working on one assignment, my mind is already preparing for the sixth projects down the line. While this work is exhausting, I have never been more alive.

Inside the office, posters of past productions color the walls.

     My first week was spent primarily in the office space. The walls are covered with posters from past productions, adding color to our fifth floor room. (I walk those flights at least four times a day…) The staff, which consists of a core team of eight, each specializing in a different area, sat beside their own intern for a meeting among departments. We discussed agendas, upcoming events, possible issues, etc. Marketing explained how we would ‘brand ourselves’ in the lobby. Going off of that point, Development mentioned that we would need guides to lead audiences into the theatre. Stumped on who would take the organization of this on, I wearily raised my hand to suggest interns as the solution. People were impressed with this comment, especially it being my first day and that I was assisting a department other than my own. This moment, along with many others, exemplifies that ‘theatre is a team sport’ whether onstage or in an office.

Under that rug is black ‘spike’ tape to mark where it should go onstage. I colored the tape with white pencil to make it look like its from a sketchbook, fitting the ‘cartoon’ theme of the show.

     This first week, I made a cartoonist’s sketchbook. I, by no means, am a visual artist. Yet, I did not actually have to draw. The sketchbook was for the current playing production, Fun Home. The show is based on an established cartoonist’s graphic memoir. In the musical, the lead character is said cartoonist. She speaks and sings the story as she is illustrating it. However, no actress could ever pull off drawing the same cartoons as in the actual graphic memoir. Therefore, I printed images from the original memoir in extremely low ink. Then, I glued the images into a sketchbook in the order of when they are drawn in the show. I did a set of cartoons for every performance, allowing the actress to trace the images on stage every night. I made the most essential prop of the production.

Set of ‘Fun Home’

     The following two weeks were spent in the theatres for both summer productions, The View Upstairs and Fun Home. I assisted in building sets, dressing spaces with curtains, furniture and props, and cleaning the house (the audience seats). I learned so much about set construction that I feel I could be a contractor’s right hand woman. Building sets is the area I have the least experience in but in which I learned the most. I was directly involved in bringing the theatre to life for each unique story.

Set of ‘The View Upstairs’

     My goals for the summer are to develop a deeper understanding of the professional theatre world, foster relationships with theatre professionals and to grow and mature as a person. I have certainly made a dent in all three areas and am excited to continue.

 

 

 

Amy Ollove ’21

Beyond Imaginations

A week after my last day at CiRA, I finally could settle down a little to write this last WOW blog post. Knowing that I would never be able to include everything that I have experienced in writings, I decided to write down some of the most important personal growths and a few pieces of advice for future WOWers.

Personally, the summer was extremely special and precious to me. The internship turned out to be invaluable in terms of building up not only scientific knowledge but also personal connections. It was far beyond accomplishing everything that I wrote in the WOW application.

Coincidentally, however, this was an unusual summer for the local people in Japan as well. As I wrote in my last blog post, the natural disasters and record-breaking weather conditions made the summer memorable in many senses.

Two Quick Shots from the Gion Festival (Yoiyama, Atomatsuri)I Went There with Some of the Hotta Lab Members


Chance is always there for those who are prepared. I have heard this sentence countless times since I was little. However, the CiRA internship validated it for me for the first time. Looking back, I could clearly see that I would not have gained so much, especially in terms of building personal connections with local professionals, if I do not have either the proficiency in Japanese language and culture or the previous educational and laboratory experience.  Every past effort not only prepared me for this opportunity but also enabled me to fully utilize it.

In the past eight weeks, I have met so many interesting people that I would have never encountered in my daily life. I also had a lot of intriguing conversations with scientists as well as science communicators. Besides the intensive bench works, I was able to get involved in some of the scientific communication works at Kyoto University.

Past Issues Focusing on Research News at KU

Published Twice a Year by the Office of Global Communications at KU

Before the internship, I thought it would be so nice if there was a career that could combine my skills in science, journalism, communication, and languages. Meanwhile, I also found it almost impossible to find a job opportunity like that because such a combination of interests is too rare to be considered or even imagined. Nonetheless, the staff from the International Public Communication Office at CiRA and the Office of Global Communications at Kyoto University opened the door for me and showed me the possibility of having a career like what I dreamed about before.

I am extremely grateful to the Hotta Lab members as well as all the people I have met at and outside of CiRA in the past two months. It is hard to say goodbye to everything and everyone here, but there is always a finale for every story regardless of how beautiful it was. To be honest, I have no idea when and how this summer will impact my future at the moment, but I believe that the experience is and will be life-changing.

Sunset View from the Rooftop of a Ryokan (Japanese Hotel) by Kamo River                                                                                       Taken Before My Farewell Party


After six-year of dreaming and struggling, the actual experience I had in the past two months was, however, still far beyond all expectations and imaginations. Although over 100 pages of lab notes and over 600 raw data files that I have accumulated during the internship period might be able to illustrate something, nothing would possibly represent the experience as a whole. These are the memories and growth that could become part of the foundation of my life and provide me with the enormous courage to further pursue my dream.

So, catch the opportunity and go for a real-life challenge!

Wrapping up at State

 

IO/RPC’s summer interns.

When I write essays, I generally can foresee how they end — with a memorable conclusion that wraps everything up nicely. In contrast, when coding, I cannot anticipate the eventual end of my program as easily. This is probably because I am much newer to coding than I am to writing, which I’ve practiced since first becoming literate.

Similarly, this internship experience has been an unknown, one whose future was not so ascertainable in advance. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I have tried to learn as much as I can along the way. This was one of the underlying themes behind all three of my academic, professional, and personal WOW goals. I hope I was successful, at least partially, in taking advantage of all of the opportunities presented to me. I loved that I was able to work on my own projects at this internship, and one of my biggest takeaways was probably the amount I was able to learn about R, Python, and some of its many text-focused IR applications. I feel really lucky that I was given the chance to be able to do this.

I also reached out to people in other offices at the State Department, and had some really interesting conversations on their career paths and current jobs. I was often very nervous going into these interactions, but I’m so glad I went through with it — I learned a lot about different career options, just like I’d originally wanted, and I was able to ask as many questions as I wanted. My advice to future interns would be to try and have as many informational coffees as possible. Email people with interesting careers in other offices or bureaus at the State Department; some of them are bound to respond, and the conversations you’ll have will be impossible elsewhere.

I’ve also set a few new goals, based on things I’ve noticed about myself that I have perceived as weaknesses in an office setting like this one. For most of my internship, I had this Anne-Marie Slaughter quote hanging from my computer on a sticky note:

“I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. My husband agrees, but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women—to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us… We’ll create a better society in the process, for all women.”

Slaughter was the first female head of the policy planning staff at the State Department, and she’s an all-around excellent role model for women in the workplace.

In any case, I’m proud of myself for holding out for this internship — despite my delayed start date — and for all that I’ve learned along the way. It was an incredibly fascinating, educational experience, and I felt like I was witnessing history take place.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

Midway Through at State

A statue in a courtyard of the State Department.

Although somehow halfway through, I feel like I’m finally getting adjusted to the swing of things at work. Periods of busy activity appear in bursts, buttressed by lulls. In part, I have been told that this is the nature of work in this office. After all, the G-7 doesn’t occur without prior diplomatic trumpeting, and the UN General Assembly is an annual affair.

As an outsider, it’s been novel for me to see the preparations that precede meetings, speeches, and congressional Q & As. I’d never given as much thought before to the effort that goes into making sure federal figureheads are truly representing the Department’s policies and priorities.

In a process called ‘clearance’, multiple offices sign off on the contents of a document. The offices who sign off on the document are designated to ‘clear’ on that document because they have regional and functional expertise in areas relevant to the document’s contents. In many ways, it’s kind of like a group project. I like the collective nature of it, the idea that every bright person at State is pooling their knowledge to make it greater than the sum of its individual parts. How cool!

Of course, this could also be called a diffusion of responsibility — who, indeed, gets to make policy? These are some of the fundamental questions I have: what is American foreign policy in theory? How is it enacted in practice on the ground? How do these two paradigms differ? Who is making it, in theory and in praxis? I’m encouraged to attend think tank events at work, and these could help shape a response to some of these questions.

Outside of work, I take long walks to the many free museums the city offers. I frequent blogs such as this one on free things to do in DC to see what’s going on. When I have the time, I try to attend meetings for various activist, political, and religious groups, which has given my summer many different — and sometimes competing — flavors.

Interning has vastly differed from university life in that the schedule is set. I walk to work at 7:50 every morning, getting there by 8:15; I get home around the same time each day. At school, I have the freedom — and the burden — to forge my own schedule. Having a life outside of work here means I have to sum up energy around sunrise or sunset. Before work, I try to go on long runs around the Lincoln memorial and ponds, the grass dewy on my sneakers. After work, I often head back to the same place, to read in the grass and watch the summer sun sink into the night. In all honesty, being in the same room for an entire day becomes tiring; I try to be outside as much as I can when I’m not at work, even if that means I’m sweaty and itchy from humidity and mosquitoes.

Perhaps being in an office — in any professional setting — is itself a skill, a learned habit, just like being successful at school is. Maybe it just doesn’t seem that way to most adults because they’ve learned the activity so well already.

I am trying to constantly learn from this environment, which is so novel and fascinating in every detail. I hope to take away both tangible skills — I’m learning data analysis applied to international relations, and teaching myself Python, text and sentiment analysis, and more — and intangible soft skills, like the art of diplomacy in a conversation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

Getting Started at State

I’d been thinking about this sticky summer morning for over ten months. After going through the equivalent of airport security, I had finally done it. I was inside the lodestar of American diplomacy: the Department of State.

The main building — called the Harry S. Truman — is even more labyrinth-like than I’d expected. Perhaps it’s the physical manifestation of the bureaucracy it represents: the Department is divided into different bureaus, and within each bureau are different offices. I am interning with the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO), and within that, the Office of Regional Policy Coordination (RPC). This office focuses on the United States’ relationship with a host of international and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations and G-7. It’s also in charge of the Multilateral Moneyball project, which focuses on analyzing international relations quantitatively. This summer, my work will in part specifically focus on this project. I’m really looking forward to seeing how data analytics can inform foreign policy decision-making.

I’d also like to better understand the workplace environment at the State Department. I’m very interested in a career in public service, but I’m not sure where my values, interests, and skills are best suited. I’d also like to better understand how State Department staff enact policy under administrations whose politics they may or may not agree with. What are the lines between personal politics and public duty?

The interactions I’ve had with the very kind and hardworking people in my office have already been illustrative and invaluable. Everyone in my office is friendly and approachable; I’m lucky to have multiple mentors here. After a few days in the office, the learning curve still seems steep: there are more acronyms than I’d ever imagined could exist. I’m still getting into all of the systems — receiving my own email, setting up my own phone, making up passwords for all of the accounts I’ll need access to. I have my own cubicle, and, thankfully, there are two other interns in my office who have been here longer than I. They’ve been instrumental to my smooth on-boarding process.

I’m thrilled to start my internship. It was a longer process to finally walk through the doors of the Department of State than I’d even anticipated. The process started at the very beginning of my fall semester, when I applied through the federal website with a few essays and the selection of three bureaus. I had phone interviews with several potential supervisors, and by early November I accepted a preliminary offer, dependent on the approval of my security clearance. The security clearance process was another application — with hundreds of pages of online paperwork — and I was given mine only right before I started work. I also, of course, applied to the WOW, to be able to do an unpaid internship.

Many thanks to the benefactors of the WOW fellowship, who have made this whole experience possible through funding  — without them, I would not be here.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

Reflecting on My Time at Gervay-Hague Lab!

With my internship at Gervay-Hague Lab at UC Davis coming to an end, I am very happy to see that I have met my defined learning goals. I certainly learned a lot during this 10-week period, and I will use everything I have learned in my classes and future research.

Academic Goal:

My academic goal was to use what I learned from performing research in Gervay-Hague Lab to become more adept in my Chemistry and Biology courses, and to be able to reference my lab experiences with these courses. I have no doubt that everything I have learned this summer will help me in my two remaining lab courses: Advanced Materials Chemistry Lab & Advanced Organic Chemistry Lab. Additionally, the synthetic chemistry I performed over the summer will even help in my Medicinal Enzymology course since I will be able to understand what steps go into the synthesis of a new drug.

Career Goal:

My career goal was to further explore what field of Chemistry I would like to go into for a job as well as graduate school. After researching this summer, I am not sure exactly what area of Chemistry I am most interested in. But, I am very happy that I got some experience in Chemical Biology, so I can further consider this as a potential career path.

Personal Goal:

My personal goal was to learn how to communicate my research to others through posters, papers, and in person. I have certainly learned how to communicate my research through group meetings, keeping my lab notebook, reading relevant articles and posters, and discussing my research other people in the lab on a daily basis.

Some things that changed about my goals during my internship were that I think I should have created lab-related goals in addition to my academic, career, and personal goals. But, since I did not realize this at the beginning of my internship, I decided to make a list of lab accomplishments instead. Some of these include:

  • Became familiar with lab techniques such as dry transfer and the use of MestReNova, an NMR analysis program.
  • Learned to use various lab apparatuses such as argon chamber, oven, microwave, rotovap, MPLC, and NMR (1H, 13C, COSY).
  • Learned how academic labs work and what it’s like to be part of a PhD program.

 

This is the main lab that I worked in, the synthesis lab. It consisted of the MPLC, the argon gas, an IR machine, and a microwave. Additionally, the TLC station was set up in the hood, and reactions were run in this room.

Although I have learned a tremendous amount at my internship this summer, I think I can summarize it into four main things:

  • Working a full-time job (nearly) is quite difficult and very different than working and studying in college.
  • It is very rewarding to be given a project, work tirelessly on it, and see it through.
  • Planning is crucial in all different fields.
  • It is amazing how much can be done day-to-day and week-to-week researching in a lab, yet how long it takes to come to distinct conclusions.

This summer, I am most proud of beginning to research in a lab, something I have wanted to do for quite some time now. I am also very proud of all the hard work I have put into my research and that I have learned so much during my 10 weeks at Gervay-Hague Lab!

The Learning Continues @CharityMiles

It has been quite a journey getting to the middle part of my internship. In the first few weeks at Charity Miles, my supervisor gave me an overview of what was expected of me. The expectations sounded like a lot, but her reassurance helped me be aware that I was not alone in this internship as she was a message away on Slack and a few steps away in person.

With more than a month into my internship, I still had a lot of work regarding my HubSpot project, which I had been working on since my second week. This project consisted of finding company sales contacts in order to build possible partnerships with. I was still fairly new to the HubSpot software. However, I had the basics down which helped me to complete the task. My supervisor was kind enough to give me the option of becoming certified with the HubSpot sales software through the subscription the company held.

She gave me one day in the week to dedicate myself to watch the videos associated with the certificate. At the end of all of the training videos, I took the exam—which I had to take more than once as I was not able to score high enough the first few times to get certified.

I was fortunate enough to be able to set up a phone call with a company that had reached out to me. The company’s intentions were not too clear but my supervisor worried less about that and worried more about me sitting in for a call in which she would be speaking about Charity Miles and potential partnerships. It was a great opportunity to see the integrity that my supervisor had during the phone call.

After a month and a half of working on finding contacts for the companies, I was finally able to say, “I’m finished finding the person of contact for these 900 companies.” It was a great relief because it was very tedious work and at times, would take a long time.

Though I had finished the first part of this HubSpot, the second part was right there waiting for me; linking the new person of contact for these companies in the HubSpot program. Some of the companies were new that were trying to be contacted so for those companies, I also had to build a profile. This became a great practice for me in learning how to network and not give up in attempting to build relationships among companies. This gave me practice and knowledge that I can transfer to any workplace when it comes to working with clients or actual companies themselves.

An End @CharityMiles

The last few days have approached during my summer internship at one of the top-rated mobile health apps—Charity Miles. Waking up early in the morning, hitting the gym and getting ready to hit downtown Manhattan became a routine this summer.

A great friendship has developed between the other intern, my supervisor and myself. One day, my supervisor decided to switch up our workspace and do work at another WeWork location in Times Square. It was a great day and I got to meet an old partner of my supervisor who gave me insight into the marketing aspect of sales. She explained to me how marketing can be done for free through the use of social media. But to top it off, it was also a nice bonding experience with the other intern and my supervisor as we were able to go into the game room and spend some time there.

The great part about my supervisor is she is always on the lookout for me to attend events. Recently she got me a ticket for a tech expo and though I attended alone, it was a great way to expand my network. I also got to see computer scientists doing work which is great because it is one of my majors. As the day went on, I was able to speak to a lot of companies, get free items, and also sit in for a few talks from some very successful entrepreneurs.

Back in the office I finished off my second part of my HubSpot project and moved onto the third. Now that I had finished creating and linking new contact profiles with company profiles, it was time to actually start reaching out to companies. This third part consisted of building a sequence of five emails to be sent out to companies. This became the last part of the project which I finished the second to last day at the office.

By the end of my internship, I successfully met the learning goals that I had set myself up with. By constantly deciding which companies to reach out to, after a while I became familiar with what classified a company as successful and worth reaching out to. To add on, I decided I favored my computer science major, as it is very sought after by a lot of companies and work can be done remotely. Nowadays, coders carry a big importance. Last but not least, I learned a lot about a startup company and the many struggles it experiences during the early stages.

The advice I could give to a student interested in Charity Miles is to not be afraid to ask questions because you are there to learn. Also, not to become discouraged when companies do not get back to the emails you send to out.

On the last day, my supervisor took the other intern and me out to lunch as a way to say thank you for our work. We spent time speaking about how work had gone that summer and all that had been accomplished amongst us as a team. My time at Charity Miles was great because of the people I got to meet and my supervisor, most of all who made it enjoyable. The bond developed with her and her knowledge encouraged me to continue persevering.

Midpoint WOW Post

At this point, I have spent a month and a half interning at Westchester Day School. The most eye-opening part of the summer so far has been the week after the students left. While the students were in school, it was loud and busy, and I had many tasks involving being a substitute for classes, helping out teachers, and observing classes. However, now that the students are gone for the summer, it is quiet, I spend more time in the office at a desk, and have more time to work on my summer projects on organizing the curriculum and unit plans of each grade and subject.

There is something that I have noticed at many different moments throughout the past month and a half about the environment and the workplace. Through sitting in on teacher meetings, administrative meetings, and professional development sessions, I have noticed that the staff, teachers and administrators, are very unified. They have a great relationship both working together as colleagues, and even more so, as people inside and outside of the school environment. This was something that made a big impact on my thoughts and emotions about being a teacher and being in an education environment. This is something very special that this teaching staff has.

This world of work being in the education environment and observing teachers and classes is very different than my academic life sitting in on classes about learning how to teach. I am having the opportunity in this internship to put what I have learned in my classes about how to teach students into the real world and real life experiences. Speaking to the teachers about their classes, students, and methods used has given me a different lens on the information I have learned in my classes. While I can learn in my classes and from textbooks “how to teach”, talking to different teachers about their experiences, their growth as teachers, and being able to differentiate their teaching for all of their students is what gave me the most valuable information.

I am working on a project where I look through binders upon binders of curriculum from different grades and different subjects and examining and analyzing the information and the way it is being taught. One specific thing I am learning through this project is finding the important parts and separating that from the other parts which are less relevant. The curriculum project I am working on requires me to look through unit and lesson plans and analyze them to see the overarching themes among the middle school grades, if the information flows from year to year, if the different subjects flow as well, and if there is anything repeated in the different curricula. By looking through dozens of binders and curricula, and writing up my findings, I have learned that there are some aspects that are important, but not necessarily important for this specific project.

Additionally, one other skill I am learning is how to talk and act professionally. This is my first job outside of being a camp counselor, so I am learning how to act professionally. Although every job and work environment is different, these work ethics, attire choices, and conversational skills will help me at any future job that I will have.

These are some of the binders which I looked through, examined, and analyzed for my project.

WOW Post #1

My name is Devorah Meyers and I am a rising junior at Brandeis University majoring in education. This summer I wanted to find an opportunity to be in a school environment which led me to become an intern at Westchester Day School, a Jewish preschool through 8th grade day school in Westchester, New York. I will be specifically interning and shadowing the principal of the middle school. Westchester Day School is a  modern-orthodox, co-educational school which values both the values of Jewish culture as well as the American culture and be able to infuse them.

This first week, I experienced and saw many aspects of a school which I was never exposed to as a student. I was able to sit in on meetings with individual teachers and the principal as well as grade meetings with teachers and administrators where they talk about what is going on in that grade, ways to help certain students, and challenging things that happened recently. Because of confidentiality of the administration, teachers, and students, there are many things which I cannot share about these meetings. These meetings gave me a new view of being a teacher or administrator. The middle school staff was so united and all brainstormed ways to help out each other. Additionally, I was able to sit in on some of the meetings which the principal had with some students to discuss aspects that they want to change in the school, as well as social and academic issues. These meetings were very surprising to me, as when I was a middle school student I was terrified of my principal and would only go to the office if I was in trouble. Sitting in on these meetings showed me a different way to be a principal in a school. The principal that I am shadowing wants to have a positive relationship with the students and the students as well want to have a positive relationship with her.

Additionally, I have covered many classes in the past week. I did not feel comfortable enough teaching a lesson to the students, so instead, with the permission of the teachers, I gave them work which the teachers gave me ahead of the class period. Although I was not teaching the students directly, I had the opportunity to be in the classroom with the students. This gave me the opportunity to see what a middle school classroom is like, how it functions, the challenge of controlling the behavior of the  students, and seeing the different personalities of students both socially and academically. This is extremely valuable for me as an aspiring teacher to be in the classroom with the students and begin to develop a relationship with a handful of them. I am very thankful for this opportunity and believe that it was very valuable for me to be in the classroom with students.

This is Westchester Day School

In addition to covering classes, I have also had the opportunity to observe classes and teachers. I have seen different ways and methods used by the teachers to teach different subjects and specific students. I have also had the opportunity to talk to the teachers after observing their classes to hear the reasons behind the strategies they use, the students who need more help and attention, and how to give them what they need. This was also very valuable for me to see and do because I was able to see the students and teachers in their environment and observe how a classroom functions. It was also very helpful to debrief with the teachers after the classes so I was able to understand why they repeated certain things, the abilities of the students, and the methods which work best for the class.

I hope through this summer and my projects I will be able to reach my goals of learning about the “behind the scenes of education,” including curriculum development and planning, scheduling, administrative work, hearing teacher’s feedback on their classes, and professional development.

Midpoint at Gervay-Hague Lab

With my internship being at the midpoint, I have learned many lab techniques from such as dry transfer between vessels, analysis techniques like NMR and COSY, as well as the use of the argon chamber, drying oven, and microwave instrument. But, in addition to these various lab techniques, I have also learned valuable workplace techniques that can be applied to the lab, academics, and any job. Some of these techniques include multitasking, planning, and time-management.

Most days, there are certain things that need to get done, and I have to figure out a plan to ensure I can get everything done that day. This requires both planning and time management. In accordance with this, I frequently have to do multiple things at the same time. For example, when I am waiting for a TLC plate to finish, I have to take advantage of those few minutes by setting up the next TLC plate. This requires multitasking. Little things like this ensure that everything runs according to the schedule that I set for myself.

But, there are certainly some challenges that I have faced while researching at JGH lab. The most difficult and frustrating challenges that I have faced are when different instruments don’t work properly. For example, sometimes the GRACE doesn’t properly recognize when peaks occur, so I have to spend more time analyzing that and determining exactly when they occurred. Additionally, sometimes spots don’t appear on the TLC plates. So, I have to redo them. All of this takes time and perseverance. But, it’s part of science, and I think people in all areas can learn from pushing past challenges like these.

Although the reactions I perform in the lab are a small part of the overall research taking place in JGH lab, I am able to see the bigger picture and the significance of what this research offers in a practical sense. This is why it was such a great experience to attend a private tour of the Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville, CA. Although they do many different things on the property, one that was particularly important to us was their growing of tea plants, specifically Camellia sinensis. But, it was also fascinating to hear about the long history that the farm has since it was founded in 1869. Fun Fact: the Japanese farmers that came to America choose Placerville, CA as the location to grow their tea since it has the same latitude as where they came from in Japan

Wakamatsu Farm has a total area of 272 acres. This is a great view of the trees and different shrubbery at Wakamatsu Farm.

The plants in this picture are both Camellia sinensis, the tea plant that JGH Lab is studying. Camellia sinensis can be used to make many different kinds of tea such as green tea, black tea, yellow tea, white tea, and oolong tea.

Here is the link to the Wakamatsu Farm website for more fun and historical information.

I thought it was very interesting to spend over a month doing research that ultimately focuses on this one plant, and then we got to go to this farm that grows that plant. It brought about an interesting connection between science and agriculture.

I am looking forward to what the rest of my internship brings!

The Woods of Weston, MA

I’m am at the midpoint of my internship with Brandeis Professor Eric Olsen, studying the relationship of deer, ticks, and Lyme disease in the city of Weston, MA. I have learned and experience a lot since my first days with the tick surveys. When I first came into this internship I viewed it as being a traditional internship where I would just be doing minor things like helping prepare the tools that we needed for a routine survey, assisting in the input of data, filing things etc. Now as I am in the midpoint of this internship I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The way that Professor Eric Olson coordinated the internship, it was as if I was conducting my own research. We both did the same amount of work, followed the same procedures, and both worked towards a common goal. After a regular day of collecting and looking at the information I collected, it left me with a feeling of accomplishment. Knowing that I was finally getting the resources that I never had leading up to my involvement in the WOW fellowship program is like a feeling of liberation.

I have also been learning about different tick species, the history of our seven different locations, how certain terrains form naturally and other interesting facts. It’s is weird seeing how different it is learning things about nature from a professor outside a classroom setting. It’s a lot less stressful and more like a gift rather than a chore. I found myself listening to what he had to say and retaining the information more than I would have in a classroom. I started to see myself noticing different types of plants like bedstraw, and milkweed. While my knowledge on how to identify the all the different types of plants there are, it has gotten a lot better just hearing him talk about them.

This internship also allowed me to really see how much I love being in nature. The city of Weston has some of the most beautiful forests I ever have seen. Just walking into one you can see the lush green vegetation of the forest, the smell of pollen and wildflowers, hear the scuffle of animals in the leaf litter, and think about just how peaceful it is being in the woods. It’s sort of a distraction from our daily lives and to just become apart of an ecosystem that many of us have lost touch with.

It reminds me of a class that I took during the fall semester of my freshman year where we had to observe a specific place in the woods that we chose and just try to connect the place as much as possible. We were told to observe the trees, notice if anything change, to use it as something therapeutic in our lives, and this internship is just like that. I have been able to use this internship as a way to take time away from working two jobs, having to worry about paying for things and helping my family.

All in all, I have really been enjoying the internship. It has been a good experience so far and I have been able to learn about many different things that I probably wouldn’t know about if I didn’t do this internship.

First Day at Internship

Today I started my internship I have to say it was not what I imagined. I came into this internship thinking that I may be bored with having to do continuous walks in the forest looking for ticks and it taking forever. To my surprise I was wrong. It’s actually amazing to see just how many ticks there are in different parks in Weston where people go every day to go for hikes, walk their dogs or just go for a stroll on a beautiful day. Pretty much anytime I walked off the path, I managed to get one or two adult ticks crawling up my leg ready to make a meal out of me. In addition to that, once you get the hang of the methods of preparing the tool that we use, to actually collecting the ticks, it manages to go by pretty fast.

On our first day, we went to one of the locations named Jericho Forest: Sunday Woods.  When we got there it was bright, warm, flush with vegetation, while at the same time with a lot of dead young trees that littered the floor like garbage. We started off by going over the procedure of how to sweep and was taught how to hold the stick, how long to walk for before we check the flag, and also how to identify the ticks. At first, neither one of us were getting any ticks on tour flags and then out of nowhere ticks started popping out the woodworks. There would be sometimes that we would get multiple ticks on the cloth at once. We ended the day collecting seven ticks and I learned the difference between dog ticks, deer ticks, which one is a male which one was a female, etc.

There was really only one downside to being in those woods, and it was the mosquitos. They manage to eat me up alive. Even though I was covered up from head to toe, they still manage to attack my hands and left me with plenty of itchy bumps that lasted for a couple of days. In addition, I also helped professor Olson with another project that he had going on planting a tree for a memorial. Before we actually planted the tree, I didn’t know that it was so much going into trying to plant a tree. I didn’t know that you couldn’t just dig a hole and just plant the tree. There is a risk that the new place could be a shock to the tree and would stop it from growing. He also informed me about little tricks like cleaning off the dirt by removing the grass and other things that would help. Overall I really enjoy doing this field work and learning about new things that I have never worked on in my life.

First Week At The United States Mission to the UN: USUN

This summer, I have the incredible opportunity to intern at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York, NY. The United States Mission to the UN (USUN), headed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, serves as the United States Delegation to the United Nations, under the U.S. Department of State. USUN works to advance U.S. foreign policy, especially in the realm of political, economic and social, legal, military, public diplomacy and management interests at the United Nations.

As an intern, I have the opportunity to work both in the Research Unit and the Host Country Affairs Office. The purpose of the Research Unit is to provide assistance to policy-making officials at USUN by the research and analysis of existing U.S. foreign policy decisions, UN resolutions, historical facts, and UN related subject matters in relation with the United States. The Research Unit also maintains the Mission’s records. As an intern for the Research Unit, I help with any research requests the office may receive, with special projects specific to the needs of the office, as well as attend training courses at the UN in order to better comprehend the United Nations system. Separately, the Host Country Affairs Office assures that the obligations of the United States to the United Nations and the UN Community are upheld, serving as a liaison between the UN diplomatic community and federal and local government agencies. As an intern for the office, I work on projects specific to the department’s need during the current time, as well as have the opportunity to attend meetings related to managing the UN diplomatic community.

Delegates Lounge, United Nations

USUN does an incredible job of making the internship a holistic experience, rather than just a 9-5 job. As an intern, I have the opportunity to attend meetings and events at the UN, and get to know government officials and other interns through lunches and networking events. Therefore, I have already met experienced government officials, undergraduate students who are interested in a similar career path as mine, as well as graduate students and law students. I am  gaining a better understanding of the diverse career paths I can choose.

Sitting in on a General Assembly meeting

This summer, I hope to take in as much information as I can,  and learn about the intricacies of one of the most powerful international institutions in the world. I hope to apply my studies within the International and Global Studies major and the Health: Science, Society, and Policy major to the work that I am doing at the USUN. I hope to gain understanding about how political reform occurs in such a large and diverse international body, and  to better understand the career path I would like to take and options that I have to pursue. I am excited to learn abou the inner workings of the international community that I am so grateful to be a part of for these ten weeks. This internship, already, does not feel as if I am simply an intern with no real place at the Mission, but rather that the Mission is almost as excited to have me, as I am excited to be at the Mission.

Maria Kulchyckyj  ’20’

My First Week Researching at Gervay-Hague Lab!

My internship this summer is at Gervay-Hague Lab at the University of California, Davis. It is led by Dr. Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague. Gervay-Hague Lab, also known as JGH Lab, is a Chemical Biology lab that strives to learn more about the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, the medical benefits it offers, and the underlying reasons for these benefits. The lab website gives a lot of interesting context and information regarding the research taking place.

For my project at JGH Lab, I am teaming up with a visiting Ph.D. student to continue to expand JGH Lab’s library of steryl glycosides. Steryl glycosides are compounds made up of two groups: sterols and glycosides. A sterol is a category of compounds that includes cholesterol among others; similarly, a glycoside is a category of compounds that includes common sugars like glucose and lactose. The process of expanding this library of steryl glycosides consists of fine-tuning the specifications of the reactions used to make the various steryl glycosides. Once this process is complete, we will run each reaction on a larger scale to create large amounts of product for future use. These products will later be used as probes to track the different processes that take place in the tea plant. Different types of tags will be used to further observe how the probes participate in the processes. Tracking these processes will help determine what factors contribute to the medical benefits of tea.

When compiling the library of steryl glycosides and performing these reactions, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is crucial for identifying compounds. Pictured below is an apparatus used to clean the tubes used for NMR; this ensures that the NMR spectra contains information relating only to the desired compound.

After performing a reaction, we are left with a vial or flask containing the desired product (hopefully) as well as a collection of unwanted side-products. A machine called GRACE pictured below can be used to isolate the desired product from the unwanted side-products. GRACE is a Medium-Performance Liquid Chromatography (MPLC) apparatus that works by using different solvents to elute different compounds at different times in order to separate products from each other, ultimately leaving the desired product.

There are several goals that I made for myself before I began my research internship at JGH Lab. I am excited to see how far I can get in accomplishing these goals, and where this will lead me!

My academic goal is to use what I learn from performing research in Gervay-Hague Lab to become more adept in my Chemistry and Biology courses. Just in this first week at JGH Lab, I have learned so much about different techniques used in Synthetic Chemistry as well as important things to take note of during reactions. Additionally, the biological context of this component of Chemical Biology.

My career goal is to obtain a job and work there for 1-2 years after graduation. Then, I hope to enter a Ph.D. program in Chemical Biology or Chemistry. I am excited for this internship to better shape my career goals for the future as well as potentially relate in some way to a future job and/or Ph.D.

My personal goal is to learn how to communicate my research to others through posters, papers, as well as in person. Additionally, I hope to learn how to listen to others and learn about their research through these same methods. During my summer at JGH Lab, I will be able to communicate my research to the other members of the lab during group meetings, discuss it with them, and get their feedback on it.

I am very excited to see what happens in the next couple of weeks!

-Daniel Farb ‘19

Rabbits and Owls and Ducks, Oh My!

Hello! My name is Zoe Tai, and I am an extremely grateful Summer 2018 WOW Fellowship recipient. Let me start off with a quick introduction of myself. I am currently a rising junior at Brandeis University and am majoring in Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in HSSP; this summer I decided to go ahead and connect my interests in biology and field science with my passion for animals and nature. Through this search, I am now a proud Wildlife Care Intern with Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farms Wildlife Sanctuary located in Lincoln, MA.

Drumlin Farms is an environmental educational center, a working farm and a wildlife sanctuary for native non-releasable species. Their mission is to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife alike. Drumlin Farm’s Wildlife Care Department (WLC), where I work, is a long-term care facility for injured or orphaned wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild.  All of the animals at the sanctuary are residents that are often showcased during education programs or on exhibit for visitors of the farm. While they are not out on programs or out on exhibit they live in the Wildlife Care Center.

A map of Drumlin Farms and the WLC building circled in red. Illustration courtesy of The Lincoln Squirrel.
Our resident fisher here at Drumlin Farms. She loves to sleep in her hammock!

I get the privilege of working with these animals through daily tasks such as cleaning, training and prepping diets. Every day, the staff, interns and other volunteers roll into the building at 8 AM and start off the day by cleaning each and every animal enclosure. They have a pretty strict handling clearance process that begins with shadowing a staff member handling and cleaning the enclosure, followed by independently transferring the animals to their carriers and cleaning with supervision, to finally being cleared on the particular animal. Some animals are of course off limits to me, mainly the mammals such as the porcupine, the fisher, and the fox as they are rabies vectors. Even with these precautions and rules in place I still have had so many interactions with different New England species. In my first full week alone, I have been allowed to work with the domesticated rabbits, the ducks, the northern bobwhite, both the turkey vultures and the black vulture, the barred owls, the red-tailed hawks, and the painted-turtles to name a few, and there are still so many more.

The diet counter where we prepare animal diets.

After we’ve cleaned every enclosure and have taken a lunch break, the other interns and I prepare the diets for all of our animals. We make sure that each animal gets the proper diet and try to mimic what they would naturally eat in the wild and follow a strict recipe tailored to each individual animal. With all the chopping and food prepping we do, the other interns and I are ready to become professional vegetable mincers.

 

When all of the husbandry is taken care of, all of us interns meet with our supervisor and discuss our individual intern projects. During this internship, I will need to complete a project relating to wildlife care. Being the newest intern to the team, I have yet to decide on a project but many of the other interns have amazing projects such as training a timid barn owl to become desensitized and become used to human handling and interacting, building a new animal enclosure, and even a wildlife observation research project using night-vision trail cameras.

Two of our Barred Owls in their enclosure.

This internship is providing me with a chance to directly interact with animals and learn about how to care and train them; something that I have never really experienced. With my interest in possibly pursuing veterinary school or field biology in the future, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive into the grit and the wildness that comes with working with animals from an amazing and educated staff. My goal for this summer is to become familiar with all the species here on the farm and to be able to engage in conversations with visitors about animal behavior and habits to promote a responsibility for conservation and sustainability for nature. I have learned so much from this one week at WLC and cannot wait to see what the summer has in store!

-Zoe Tai ’20

First Few Days @CharityMiles

My first week has gone by and even though I had an idea of what to expect when arriving at the office space in downtown Manhattan in a WeWork building, I still wondered how things would go. To my surprise, there was also another intern who was starting on that same day. It made me feel a little better knowing that someone was at the same stage that I was and that we could figure things out together.

After settling in, I got started on my first task which was to work within Trello and create an account. Prior to my arrival, my supervisor had set up tasks for me on a Trello board made up of readings about sales and what makes a good salesperson. On that same day, I was also given my Charity Miles email which made me feel like an official member within the organization.

The days that followed consisted of me continuing the readings as there was a lot to cover. It was not until the final days of that first week that my supervisor told me to stop with the readings and move on to new tasks. One of those tasks included finding the POC (person of contact) at companies and compiling a detailed list to be used for outreach. I was excited to start doing some research and work with the other intern on this project.

By the end of this internship, I hope to have a greater understanding of how small startups work and the decision-making process of finding potential partners and investors.