As I near the end of my internship I have been reflecting on the goals I intended to achieve at the beginning and where I am right now with only two weeks to go. I had hoped to learn more about research and how it can affect underserved communities in attaining better access to care, and I wanted to gain the skills necessary to conduct research more independently. With over two months of my internship complete I can say I have attained those goals. The research I have done and hope to get submitted for publication in the next month will hopefully inform policy makers and the dental community alike about the discrepancies in access to fluoride that exist in different communities. I have also learned how to be nit-picky of my own writing in order to achieve a publish-worthy manuscript as well as how to collect and analyze data. In the future, given the opportunity to conduct research I will be able to be much more independent throughout the process.
Having worked on research one-on-one with a faculty member at the University of Washington Dental School, I was given a lot of responsibility. Whether it be small organizational tasks or writing an entire manuscript, I have greatly assisted my mentor in completing many of the tasks on his list. I have been able to be helpful with a variety of activities and tasks making a very positive impact on the department as a whole.
Prior to starting the internship, I wish I had researched the work environment I would be in more. Although the work itself was exciting, the office was often relatively empty with only two administrators in the office. I would recommend to any student considering doing a research internship to talk to someone else working in the lab in order to learn more about the social interaction and dynamic of the lab.
Being able to balance work with other activities is important as well. While the work is often very fun, it can also be tiring, so making time to spend time with friends and doing things you enjoy is important as well. For anyone considering doing research I would recommend talking to your supervisor before hand to see if there are any things you can familiarize yourself with prior to starting the internship in order to make it a smooth transition. Having a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be as well as the time commitment for the internship is important as well. I would suggest considering finding an internship that would combine research with more hands on activities and events as well in order to have a diversity of experiences throughout the summer and maximize your learning opportunities.
Overall, I have had a tremendous summer of learning, gaining new skills, and achieving my goals. It has been a wonderful experience that I hope to build on again next summer.