Over the last few months, I continuously worked to help move forward the research on the mysteries of space dust near the Andromeda Galaxy, with the additional goal of learning more astronomy and programming. Throughout the summer, I consistently accomplished new goals, both research-related and personal. As I progressed my goals evolved, allowing me to continue challenging myself while learning along the way. My communications with my supervisor helped me adapt and change course when needed in order to best meet my goals.
This internship gave me first-hand experience with the effort and challenges associated with conducting research full-time. As my supervisor explained to me several times, unlike assigned homework, there is not always a correct answer associated with the problem. Research requires an open mind and a willingness to explore every detail with intense concentration and focus. Completing this internship entirely remotely was an added challenge to this project, however I learned more about myself due to this situation. Although I enjoyed this internship and found this work very interesting, I learned that I work much better when working in a team. My productivity definitely increases when I’m able to work through issues and bounce ideas off of my peers.
If I could give advice to a future student looking into completing a similar internship, I would first ask them what they are interested in and why. It is very important to understand exactly what piques their curiosity in order for them to maintain passion for their work. Showing up to work every day with a desire to continue unlocking the mysteries associated with their project will allow them to push forward even when the going gets tough. When they are stumped and not sure how to continue, their interest in the subject will help them prevail and think critically about the proper ways in which to move forward. Additionally, it is very important that they have a willingness to accept constructive criticism and an ability to learn from their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes during research, but those that can find and learn from them are the most successful. Finally, I would explain that being an open and reliable team member will help everyone accomplish more together, as they will create a successful give and take relationship.
Through all of the difficult and stressful parts of the internship, the most rewarding part was the recognition from my supervisor about my gradual, but huge increase in ability to work independently and produce quality results. The learning curve for this internship was very steep, but as I continued working each part began clicking more quickly. As a result of my perseverance my work and subsequently my confidence improved. Looking back at the beginning of my internship to now, the entire process of struggling and learning left me with a a feeling of gratification.