Interning at the CARE Lab this summer has been a really educational experience for me, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work there. The two goals I set for myself in my initial post were both very much met—the first was to gain career related skills and experience, especially first-hand through my own research project and by working on other ongoing research projects, and the second was to hone my collaboration skills and work with (and learn from) experts in the field I plan to pursue. For the former, I have already begun an independent project looking at the relationship between distress intolerance, affect, and cognitive control. Through this process, I’ve been getting first-hand experience in how to brainstorm and plan a project, conduct literature reviews, formulate aims and hypotheses, and more. I’m still in the early stages but will be continuing through the rest of the summer and into the fall semester. Additionally, I’m still working on the cognitive control training study (which is where the data for my independent project comes from) and have almost finished aggregating data; I just have two more cognitive tasks to comb through and then it’s on to more analyses! It’s been really interesting to be able to learn by doing during this internship, rather than learning the theory or general how-to from a course. As for the collaborative goal, I’ve been meeting regularly with my supervisor to discuss the work I’m doing, next steps, professional development, etc., which has been really helpful and has certainly fulfilled that for me.
My work at the CARE Lab has made me more interested in impulsivity and cognitive control, especially in a clinical population like the one at McLean. This is likely an area that I would pursue in a lab when I apply for graduate school, so it’s been awesome to begin to refine what part of the field I want to research later on. I’ve also come to realize that I enjoy statistics and data analysis more than I thought I did; I never disliked it, but I’ve learned that it’s actually something I’m good at and want to do more of. I’ve been doing a lot of coding in R this summer which has been really fun for me, and because of all of this I’ve decided to take Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) Application this fall semester to learn another statistical coding language. But overall, working at the lab has confirmed my interest in getting a PhD in clinical psychology and going into the field.
One piece of advice I would give to someone pursuing an internship at the CARE Lab, or the BHP at McLean in general, is don’t be afraid to ask for more to do! There are always many tasks that need to be done, and it’s good to take the initiative to ask for more rather than sit and wait for a task to be given to you after you’ve finished whatever you were doing. I would also say that it would be helpful to come into the internship with some level of statistics knowledge, as that will make performing data analyses easier. In terms of advice for someone pursuing in internship in psychology research, I would recommend getting experience in both a clinical setting and a non-clinical setting, as while they are related, they have different focuses.
Out of everything I’ve done this summer, I’m most proud of the analysis work I’ve done for the cognitive control training study, as it has earned me the ability to be a co-author on the journal article once we start the writing process. This means that, depending on when the paper is submitted/published, I’ll have the opportunity to be published before I graduate, or right after I graduate, which will be an accomplishment to be proud of.