Post 2: Impressions of Working Virtually

Working virtually this summer, for me, has been somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, since my internship had to be adjusted to fit a more remote setting, I lost some of the duties and experiences that I would have had in-person. For example, one of my original tasks was going to be running participants through study sessions for two ongoing impulsivity studies – the cognitive control training study I mentioned in my last post, along with another study using a mobile EEG headband – but that part of my summer wasn’t transferable to being online. I was also going to learn how to do EEG cap recordings, which I had been looking forward to, but again, that is something very hands-on and so unfortunately had to be cut. I also work alone in my room now, which is a lot different than what I’m used to; when I was doing this internship during the spring semester, I was in a room with other interns and research assistants and was able to talk and interact with them throughout the day. Now there’s very little of that outside of our weekly lab meetings, which is a bit of a bummer.

An example of what an EEG cap can look like

On the other hand, having to work virtually has actually expedited some opportunities that I may not have had until much later. For example, for the cognitive control training study, my supervisor had originally wanted to collect data for 15-20 more participants than what we have as our current sample size, but given the uncertain circumstances of Covid-19, he decided to wrap up the study early. This meant that it has now moved into the analysis stage earlier than was initially planned; it also means that it’s almost time to start writing up the article to be submitted to a journal. I’ve been working on a lot of the preliminary results/analysis for this study, and because of the all of the work I’ve done (and continue to do), I will be a co-author on that article, which is a really exciting outcome of having to work virtually this summer.

The World of Work has differed from university/academic life in that the former is much more hands-on. Since I’m majoring in psychology, the content of my courses is relevant both to my future career, as well as any field-related experiences (like this internship) that I have along the way. However, there’s only so much one can learn and understand without actually doing; the best way to gain knowledge about the World of Work is to actually work in it, and that’s exactly what my internship is allowing me to do. I have a foundation of psychology knowledge from my classes (abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, personality, research methods, and more) that has allowed me to jump right into being a research assistant in a clinical population. However, I’m learning so much that I would never have been able to learn just sitting in a classroom, like how to collaborate with experts, how a psychiatric hospital functions, how research works in a clinical population, etc. Beyond that, in the World of Work, I’m part of something much bigger than myself. University/academic life is highly individual, so working in the CARE lab has shown me just how collaborative my field actually is.

In terms of skill-building, three main ones that I’m building are understanding the process of writing an academic journal article, how to conduct my own independent research, and how to analyze data, all of which are transferable to different situations. For academics, the skills will allow me to do better research when it comes to writing literature reviews or just general research papers for any of my classes. For future career plans, the skills are highly relevant to what I will be doing in grad school when I go to get a clinical psychology PhD, and what I will be doing as a job after I graduate. Overall, my internship thus far has been a really invaluable experience, and I’m excited to see what else is in store for me to learn this summer!

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