WOW Post #2: Mid-Summer

Infant Human Diffusion Tensor Image

It’s a little bit past mid-summer which means we WOW fellows are also close to mid-way through our internships. Being fully remote had its advantages and disadvantages, one of which was feeling like the summer has flown by. I believe that working online can be repetitive which is one of the reasons as to why it feels like time is moving extra fast. Other than this, I don’t mind working remotely. It gives me flexibility to work around my busy schedule and be able to work my other two jobs in addition to my research. However, remote research is a bit different than remote academic life. I personally did not enjoy online courses as much as in person courses because I felt like it was harder to pay attention and get work done. However, I do not feel the same about remote work. It absolutely can still be difficult to pay attention when doing my research alone in my room, but the weekly meetings I have with my post doctorate student at the end of the week motivate me to get my work done. In addition, knowing that I’m doing important and impactful work encourages me to keep up with the schedule that I make for myself.

Over this summer, I am able to strengthen many scientific skills and grow as a researcher. These skills include reasoning, critical analysis, and communication. I have been enrolled in courses at Brandeis where I had to learn these skills through reading and writing papers and creating poster presentations, but it is much more exciting when the work I am doing is related to my personal interests. Reading scientific articles about the arcuate fasciculus doesn’t appear to get old for me.

In addition to gathering the data needed for my lab’s project, I am also preparing to begin gathering data for my senior thesis. It is especially exciting in our lab right now since we are beginning to extract data from baby humans and we will finally have primate data sets to compare. We have already found some interesting observations, but these will need to be further evaluated before they can be reported. I will also be using the data I have collected so far in my SciFest poster presentation that is coming up in the first week of August.

Overall, the experience I am gaining this summer thus far is greater than I have anticipated. I knew I would be learning a great deal about how research is conducted, but I did not think I would be so closely involved in the project, let alone soon leading my own. I am looking forward to what the end of the summer brings. Make sure to look at my last blog post to compare the images of two different primates and see if you can spot any similarities or differences!

Post #2: A Sapphire Summer!

Hello All! Although my internship is fully virtual this summer, it is and continues to be great! To look on the bright side, I am safe with my family and have a good amount of time to spend with them, which might not have been possible if the internship was in person. Additionally, I have gained many technical skills to complete my internship tasks at a satisfactory level, including communication through multiple social media platforms. Overall, I feel happy to continue to do this internship virtually.

The World of Work, like the rest of the Brandeis faculty and staff, has been very supportive this summer, especially with its virtual aspect. Both advisors and mentors have made me feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings during my internship, from dropping in a friendly check-in email to virtual conversations through Zoom! It is good to know that I have a team of wonderful people who I can reach out to whenever I need a helping hand.

Like I said before, I have gained many skills while working for the Sapphire organization, and continue to strengthen them every day. For example, I am on the verge of mastering Adobe Software named InDesign, which is primarily used for illustration and advertisement purposes, along with the creation of long documents. Knowledge on how to use this software is crucial while I hold an active position in the organization, seeing as they will be using this software to create our publications such as our literary magazines and artbooks. I am very excited to start putting together our upcoming art book, “Black And…” which will highlight creations made by black and brown artists and writers. This artbook will be hosting a variety of art, including poems, prose, visual art, etc.

Another wonderful aspect of this internship is its flexibility. We usually meet once or twice a week virtually and discuss various information that consists of tasks for the creation of the artbook and keeping our social media platforms up-to-date while also engaging with our followers. Most of the time, I have 2-3 tasks assigned to me each week to complete, which to me is great because it is a large amount of time and I also really enjoy doing what I have been assigned.

With school starting back up in August, I just hope I can still carve out time and dedicate myself to the work that the Sapphire organization is doing to uplift black and brown voices through the creative arts. This is a thought that weighs heavy on my mind, but I have no doubt that I and the Sapphire team can figure something out. On the bright side, school is starting back up! As much as I dread the exams and essays, I miss my Brandeis campus and cannot wait to be back there in the fall.

 

Virtual Internships can be tough. Working from home can blur the lines of the work-life balance – causing employees and interns to work longer hours than expected. The disruption of the work-life balance has been a widespread issue for individuals working from home since the start of the pandemic. According to an article in The Conversation, individuals in the US working from home extended their workday by over two hours. I have definitely fallen into that trap. There have been many times when I caught myself doing work past my allotted hours. However, I am really lucky to intern for an organization that places emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Being an organization of women who juggle multiple jobs, my supervisor has modeled the need to establish respectable work-life boundaries in order to minimize burnout and enjoy life outside the workplace. 

It is with this mindset that I have decided to take advantage of my virtual internship and travel during the summer. From my portable office (a.k.a. my laptop) I have conducted my internship from New York City; Boca Raton, Florida; Maryland; Pennsylvania; Cape Cod, and, as of recently, Madrid, Spain. Though I definitely miss interacting with my colleagues in an in-person setting, I admit that I have enjoyed being able to do my internship while also visiting friends and family who I have not seen in over a year. 

My work set-up while in Madrid, Spain.

Due to the 6-hour time difference between Madrid and Boston, my supervisor and I have had to come up with creative ways to make sure that we have ample opportunities to connect. Every night, my supervisor uploads my work for the next day onto a Google TasksBoard.  I focus on the work she has assigned until we Zoom in the afternoon at a reasonable time for both of us. These Zoom meetings have helped alleviate the feelings of isolation which can be common when doing a virtual internship. While interning with a time difference may not be possible for every intern or organization, I am lucky to have a supervisor who has been extremely accommodating; going above and beyond to ensure that I can build my network and establish relationships with women who can provide guidance and assistance to my career. 

While my newfound graphic design, marketing, and communication skills will be useful as a club leader on campus, the idea of maintaining a work-life balance will likely be the most beneficial skill I have learned this summer, and the hardest one to adapt into my daily life back at Brandeis. Despite its importance, the practice of work-life balance goes out the window on college campuses. During the academic year, my struggle to find the balance between work and leisure has led to instances of burnout. One thing I hope to take away from this internship is to make space in my schedule for non-academic interests such as cooking, hiking, reading, or grabbing food at Sherman with friends. I implore other Brandeis students to follow my lead and begin to invest not only in their grades but also in themselves.

Navigating Research in The Virtual Environment

Prior to the pandemic, my summers were filled with will long days in the sun, instructing and corralling small children, and were 99% offline.  Many things have changed from my time as a camp counselor to my position as an undergraduate research intern.  These changes include no longer working with children, but rather learning from a team of experienced and skilled researchers. However, as you may recognize, one of the largest changes this summer is I am working fully remote, inside, and on my screen for my position.  This change took some adjusting, as I was no longer assuming the camp counselor role, one that I enjoyed for many years.  However, to my surprise, it only took a little bit of time to get used to the new working environment as it was very similar to balancing my schedule during the semester with my courses.   Working virtually this summer has thankfully been quite easy, as all of the team members are respectful, engaging, and proficient at using zoom.   The virtual environment has its setbacks, as we are not able to be together in person for collaborations as we normally would.  However, this has created a working environment where I have been able to learn from my supervisors and colleagues and easily engage with members of the study team that I may not otherwise be able to talk to due to distance.

The World of Work has differed from my university and academic life as I am working with researchers who are devoted to their specific field of study.  Specifically, I am engaging with professionals that are extremely driven and care deeply about the work that they are studying.  Working with the research team has given me exposure to a specialty area of research that is different from that of my academic career thus far.  At Brandeis, we are exposed to a breadth of academics, and within the sciences, we are given the broad scope of a given topic i.e. genetics, epidemiology, biology laboratory, etc.  This being said, through my thorough academic background from Brandeis I felt prepared to engage in a level of work with the researchers where I am able to actively communicate about the research topics and aid the researchers.  Through this internship, I have and continue to gain a deeper understanding of cardiovascular research and Takotsubo Syndrome.

New NIH Policy on Good Clinical Practice Takes Effect January 1 — MICHR
Figure 1. Competency Domains for the Clinical Research Professional

Through my internship this summer, I have gained certifications for Basic Human Protection as well as Good Clinical Practice useful for any future research aspirations.  Such certifications enable me to engage with the work that the research team is doing like data analysis, and patient records, and if I were to work with human participants, I am certified to do so.  In addition, to the certifications for good research practices, I have accumulated more experience reading and authoring scientific articles and data abstraction and analysis.  I have also gained an understanding of recruitment strategies and learned the importance of standard operating procedures when running a research study.  All of these skills will prove useful as I continue on my path to medicine.

https://mindandheartlab.org/research

Giving Women A Seat At The Table: Lessons From My Internship at Emerge MA


This summer, I have the privilege of interning with
Emerge MA, an organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for public office. Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned a great deal about sacrifice, dedication, and the realities of public service. Since its establishment in 2002, Emerge has trained over 4,000 women, and more than 700 of its alumni have been elected to public office – including 418 in 2018 alone. Emerge MA runs several intensive training programs targeting potential candidates and campaign managers. The signature program is a 70-hour training over six months that gives women critical knowledge of field operations, endorsements, fundraising, and communications. Through its programming, Emerge has created a network of successful and inspiring women, with which I have the pleasure of working.

My internship responsibilities include researching Emerge MA Alum, designing graphics, corresponding with Emerge MA members, engaging with the Emerge MA alum Facebook group, and drafting emails. One project I am working on right now is a graphic congratulating all of the Emerge MA alum who ran or are running for office in 2021. As I progress in the internship, I hope to gain more face time with some of the other women in Emerge MA’s network. 

Though my internship is virtual, Emerge MA has ensured that I still feel part of the community. For instance, the Executive Director has set up a virtual office space over Zoom so she and I can work together. Though Zoom fatigue is real, I have immensely enjoyed having a space that fosters communication and collaboration. As the only summer intern, I have had the privilege of building a strong bond with the Executive Director, my direct supervisor. During our Zoom sessions, the Executive Director, an elected official herself, has given great insight into being both young and a woman in local politics.   

I can tell that my summer internship at Emerge MA will be professionally and personally impactful. After reflecting on my past summer internships, I realized that I have only worked for male candidates. As a young woman passionate about civic engagement, I am desperate to see more women serving in elected office. As an Emerge MA intern, I feel like I am helping to create space for women to achieve in the realm of politics and government. Numerous studies have indicated that women are less likely to think they are qualified to hold political office, even if they are. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that empowers women to jump-start their campaigns by giving them the resources and training necessary.

My internship has also bolstered my own political ambitions. Since high school, I have toyed with running for office one day in order to create positive change in my community. However, serving in elected office can sometimes feel impossible – a coveted position reserved only for a select privileged few. Interning at Emerge MA has demystified elected office – showing me – through the success of its diverse alums – that anyone can run, including myself. I am excited for the rest of my summer and hope to continue to learn pertinent skills that will enhance my professional political career. 

 

Blog Post 1 – Working as an Undergraduate Research Intern

This summer, I am grateful to be working as an Undergraduate Research Intern for the Mind and Heart Lab at The Center for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital located in Providence, Rhode Island.  I am working with the research team under the supervision of the Principal Investigator Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, MD, Ph.D., FAHA.  The team consists of the Principal Investigator, Project Manager, Research Assistant, Data Systems Analyst, Study Psychologist, and one other Undergraduate Research Intern in addition to myself.  The research team is focused on studying the processes by which the mind can affect cardiovascular physiology and health.  In the past, they have focused on exploring the role of mindfulness training for medicine adherence for heart failure outpatients.

Currently, the team is working on the Broken Heart Study II which is focused on exploring the triggers responsible for Takotsubo syndrome.  Takotsubo syndrome (TS), also known as Broken Heart Syndrome, is characterized by acute, reversible systolic heart failure which affects primarily older, postmenopausal women.  Takotsubo is not particularly fatal, however, there can be long-term effects on the left ventricle function.  There are gaps in the information that is known about the causes and triggers of Takotsubo for many of the patients affected by this disease.  It is thought that emotional and physical triggers are likely causes of Takotsubo, but there is still much to be understood.  In addition to this study, I have been able to contribute to an abstract submission investigating if the incidence of Takotsubo cases has increased during the pandemic period (March 2020 – February 2021) compared to the year prior (March 2019 – February 2020).  We hypothesized that due to the increased stressors of the pandemic, the incidence of Takotsubo would be higher during the pandemic year compared to the non-pandemic year.  We discovered that there were increased cases of TS during the pandemic year even with a large decrease in all-cause admissions to the Rhode Island Hospital System. This trend is something that we wish to continue to explore across a larger area to see if these trends are similar along the East Coast.

” This ongoing NHLBI-funded project is designed to study the triggers of Takotsubo syndrome (aka Broken Heart Syndrome), determine whether people with this condition are unusually responsive to stress, and whether a greater response to stress puts patients at risk of another episode.” https://mindandheartlab.org

My goals for this summer include gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of clinical research and experience working with a research team by taking part in meeting weekly with the entire research team as well as meeting biweekly for mentorship meetings (lab meetings) with Dr. Salmoirago-Blotcher.  I wish to gain invaluable research experience which I believe will prepare me for graduation, future work, and applying to medical school.  I hope to gain the basic principles of data abstraction and analysis which are crucial in epidemiology research.  In addition, I hope to become more confident in my statistics and epidemiology skills and become an impactful part of the research team.   I would like to form lasting connections with the members of the research team through our meetings and project partnerships. Finally, I will try to stay connected with the research team members even after my summer internship ends.

Post #1: Sapphire Internship

Hello, my name is Amelia Trahan and I am a recipient of the social justice WOW grant. Just a little something about myself; I am now going into my sophomore year at Brandeis and plan on studying English with a minor in AAPI studies. With the help of this grant, I can proceed with my remote internship with Sapphire, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting black and brown voices and experiences through the creative arts.

Sapphire Hues Press Logo

Understanding black individuals’ stories through an abstract perspective such a poetry or visual art (i.e., photography) has been such a wonderful and enlightening experience so far! Since starting my role as a project development assistant, I have completed multiple tasks that have benefited the organization and myself as I gain new knowledge and skills every day. One of the many tasks that I have as the project development assistant for Sapphire is to upload and maintain our social media presence which is best known on Instagram as @sapphirehuespress. This account is primarily used to promote the press section of the organization; this includes our published works such as our literary magazines and artbooks. We use our social media platforms to push sales for these publications and also to gather aspiring artists whose work can be highlighted in these art books and magazines.

Recently I have gained more experience with software such as Canva which helps to design the posts I must make. For example, this month the submissions for our upcoming art book, “Black And”, have opened up, so I have had to make a post using Canva. Designing these posts has been delightful and I cannot wait to make more!

Google Meeting with Salena!

Due to Covid, my internship is completely online this summer and therefore meetings and interactions take place online as well. I usually have a weekly meeting with one of the founders of the organization and director Salena Deane. During these meetings, we usually discuss our game plan for the week, which recently has included sifting through submissions together and deciding which to accept or reject.

Looking through the submissions we receive for this upcoming artbook is definitely my favorite thing to do, especially when I am doing it with Salena. There is never a dull moment when analyzing them, and I never get tired of the genuine curiosity and admiration I have for each piece I see.

One of my goals for learning this summer is to widen my knowledge and experience with a variety of software used for design and publishing. Recently, I have been achieving this goal one day at a time by taking online courses built to certify me in software such as Adobe InDesign, Canva, and also web content writing. I hope to be certified in all of these by the end of the summer and use them as additional skills when on the prospect for career-boosting activities.

I have no doubt that by the time this internship is over, I will have gained some expertise that will be necessary in order to excel in my desired career path.

Post 3: Don’t Give Up When Your Work Gets Tough

A screenshot from our final zoom call together 🙁

From the beginning of my internship, I never expected to have an astronomical impact on the youth I’m working with. In the time I have been with Transition H.O.P.E., my impact has been my ability to be a positive role model, mentor, and overall influence to at least one of the teenagers in the program. I was lucky enough to connect and develop a strong friendship with one of the young girls I worked with. I’m grateful for the fact that this could be the impact I have on the program I worked for because that impact has more value than any of the logistical or administrative work I did for my boss over the last few months.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the work I do because this summer was incredibly unpredictable and COVID has been the primary cause of that. Therefore, if I could go back in time and tell myself absolutely anything, it’s that COVID-19 will play a much bigger role in the work I do than I think, and will undoubtedly make my work more difficult. The pandemic will dramatically affect the lives of black and brown folx, especially those who come from low-income backgrounds for years to come; and we are just only seeing the beginning of the consequences of COVID. The most outward disproportionate effect I see in the context of the work I did was my students adjusting to online school. A lot students already struggled in school without the imminent stress of COVID due to their own personal impediments they face on a daily basis. You can tell that these students, and probably millions across the world, will not be able to survive academically in this pandemic, thus perpetuating the cycle in a system that is objectively designed for them to fail. Words can’t express accurately enough how frustrating it is to feel this way as I ended my time in my internship.

Finally, If I could leave one piece of advice for working with system-involved youth it’s this: don’t give up. Something I struggled with a lot during my time in my internship is that I would find myself frustrated with the youth because they wouldn’t want to do certain things that were essential to the function of the program as well as would be incredibly beneficial to their personal wellbeing. Even though there were plenty of times where they probably expected me to give up on them, or be upset with them, I didn’t. I refused to do it. The kids are used to being a part of a school system that has given up on them or a community that has given up on them, and it is so important to be a person in their life that will not give up. If you are not comfortable constantly struggling to achieve your goals or to “get through” to the youth you are working with, then it simply is not for you.

Signing off from Seaside Sustainability

Through my work with Seaside Sustainability this summer, I met a lot of my goals, but not in the ways I imagined. I wanted to learn about non-profit work, which I imagined doing through event planning and development work. Instead, I got an interesting look at how this organization itself ran during this time, especially their internship program. It was interesting to me how autonomous this was and how well they have their remote infrastructure set up with their use of Trello and G-Suite.

I was hoping to get a better idea of what type of environmental work specifically I would most enjoy doing in a non-profit. However, I found it difficult to clarify my career interests in this internship, in part because I didn’t have the chance to work with many professionals in the field, since at Seaside I was working almost entirely with other interns. However, a major thing I did clarify about my career interest this summer is the type of organization I would most like to work for in the future. In the beginning of the summer, I also interned with an organization called Envision Frederick County, which is an organization that works on civic engagement and not just environmental issues, but I got to help them with some environmental programming. One reason I really enjoyed that experience was because their mission really aligned with my passions and worldview with regards to social activism. On the other hand, Seaside, although they are an environmental organization and they do a lot of great work, doesn’t have the social justice focus I feel really strongly about. Therefore, I learned that in the future I should search for any organization that has a mission I feel passionately about and a strategy that makes sense to me and that might benefit from my expertise, even if it’s not an environmental organization. 

For other students interested in environmental work who are looking for an internship, I would also recommend broadening your search to outside of environmental organizations. Depending on what specifically you want to do, lots of different organizations can help you gain skills that you can use in environmental work in the future. As for advice for future Seaside Sustainability interns specifically, I’d say don’t be afraid to ask questions. That advice goes for anything, but especially at Seaside, there is not a lot of orientation or explanation before you are given responsibilities, so if you get confused, ask the project manager or your intern manager if you don’t know who to ask.

Even though this summer didn’t go as I imagined, I am proud of what I accomplished. I advocated for myself when I didn’t have enough work and wasn’t getting enough out of my first work assignments. I’m also proud of the blog posts I wrote. I really enjoyed this project because I got to write about what I find important. However, I did face challenges throughout the summer and it was at times hard to stay motivated through all the turbulence happening around the world. Therefore, I am most proud of the resilience and grit I demonstrated to myself by finding ways to learn and grow though the difficult circumstances.

Post 3: Wrapping up the Summer at the CARE Lab

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.

Post 3: Wrapping Up My Internship at the Valera Lab

As I mentioned in my first blog of the summer, I had two primary goals coming into my internship at the Valera Lab: to learn more about the neurobiological manifestations of traumatic brain injury, and to learn how to work in a collaborative environment with other researchers. In regards to the first goal, I would say that I did not learn as much about the neurobiological manifestations of traumatic brain injury as I helped to conduct the study whose results will show the manifestations, and the study is still in progress. However, I gained an understanding of how traumatic brain injury caused by intimate partner violence affects women on an everyday basis from interviewing the women. In regards to the second goal, I most definitely learned how to work in a collaborative environment with other researchers and enjoyed it so much, too. I have found that I prefer to work with people rather than work alone, and even though I never met my co-workers in person, I am going to miss working with them so much. Hopefully once COVID is over I will be able to meet them! Here is the photo from my first blog post, of the clinical research coordinator Annie, my co-intern Sarah, and myself. Not pictured is my other co-intern, Olivia, and the lab director, Dr. Eve Valera.

This internship has brought me clarity in regards to what I want to pursue next. I have previously considered going into research, but now I can actually see myself becoming a neuropsychological researcher. I would love to research the neuropsychology and behavior of people who commit acts such as terrorism or sexual assault. 

From interviewing study participants, I have felt much more confident in my ability to be compassionate in listening to and validating people. Along with that, I learned how to process the difficult experiences that I hear and facilitate conversations in a trauma-informed manner. I have also learned how to write in a scientific convention! It is not as common-sense as you may think, it is often very formulaic and strictly-structured. However, once you learn the conventions, scientific writing becomes much easier.

If you are interested in an internship at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School, I highly suggest finding a lab whose work you are genuinely interested in and reaching out to the lab director. I ended up in this internship because while I was conducting a literature review in my prior research position, I came across Dr. Valera’s moving work and reached out to her – and here I am now. I think that the same goes for any research institution similar to MGH / Harvard Med. These positions are never handed to anyone, you will need to work for it by expressing your interests and excitement to learn about the lab’s work. 

It is hard to say what I am most proud of from this summer, but if I had to pick one thing it would be my co-intern and I’s independent research project and accepted abstract on transgender individuals experiences of traumatic brain injury caused by intimate partner violence. There is plenty of information and studies suggesting that transgender individuals experience health issues at rates disproportionate to cisgender individuals, however there is virtually no research done on their health specifically. I believe that this incoming generation of researchers will finally give sexual, racial, ethnic, and all other minority groups with unique health issues special attention. Along with the staff that conducts research, the content of the research itself deserves diversification proportionate to the greater population.

Thank you so much to Brandeis University’s World of Work (WOW) Program for helping make this impactful and educational experience possible.

— Maddy Pliskin

Post 3: Ending My Summer with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office

Over the course of this summer, I went from having very little idea what I wanted my life to look like post-graduation to having a relatively clear plan for the next few years. All of the staff within the DA’s office has been enormously helpful in helping get me here. One piece of advice that stuck with me came from an ADA who said that she only recommends going to law school if having a JD is the only thing standing in the way between you and what you ultimately want to do. I expected I would likely end up going to law school, but I also knew that this isn’t a path I would want to embark on without a very specific vision for what came after. Now, I feel much more confident taking these next steps.

It goes without saying that COVID-19 fundamentally changed every aspect of the world of work, likely forever. I am extremely grateful for the readiness of my supervisors and the rest of the staff to completely restructure the program and ensure we still had a great experience. Like many, I have found my work style is not very compatible with working from home. This was one of the most significant challenges. However, by establishing a routine around my work schedule, I was able to stay productive. Once again, through discovering the ways I don’t work best, I have a better idea of what I am looking for in a career going forward. I look forward to someday being able to go into the office and meet everyone in person.

Another challenge I encountered lay in the content of the work. Much of what the MDAO does, by definition, requires confronting some of the most difficult aspects of the human experience. With crime often comes immense violence, pain, and loss for those involved, and for a highly empathetic person, this world can be really difficult to immerse oneself in every day. It sounds a bit cliché, but I have increasingly come to realize that fundamentally caring about people isn’t a weakness in this line of work. Far from it. This attribute, especially in social justice work, can make an individual a more effective agent in helping work toward a more just system for everyone.

I cannot recommend the MDAO’s internship program highly enough. I think any junior or senior considering going into the legal field would benefit immensely from the experience and connections it creates. The staff is extremely supportive and happy to offer advice and guidance. This is not the kind of internship where you will be in charge of coffee runs; everyone I have done work for has ensured that the tasks they gave me are meaningful and that I see how they fit into the bigger picture.

______________________________

Here’s a link to the docket and filings for Ryan, et al v. ICE, et al, District Attorney Ryan and her fellow plaintiffs’ lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I was lucky enough to get to listen to oral arguments for the case in the First Circuit Supreme Judicial Court!

This is a slide from a training, “Identifying Racial Elements in our Prosecutions.” We have had weekly trainings on systemic racism that have included very productive discussions.

Blog post 3 – The journey coming to an end

It has been a great 2 months working for Nobee and the journey is coming to an end. This makes a great time to look back and reflect on what I contributed and achieved with my internship.

My goals at the beginning were to learn real programming skills, build projects, and get hands on experience with the software development cycle. At Nobee, I built an actual Ruby on Rails project and adding/modifying various functionalities to an existing one. From that, I believe I got quite good hands-on technical experience with Ruby on Rails. Furthermore, by joining in with the discussion and brainstorm, I was exposed to the internal operations and the communication process of a fast-paced startup. Overall, I would say my defined learning goals were met.

This internship has given me a glimpse into the life of a software engineer. There were some stressful times around deliverable deadline but, in all generality, the job is really interesting and has a decent work balance (this source says most work 40 hours work week but sometimes software engineers have to work evenings and weekends to solve problems). I have been enjoying learning a new programming language and solving problems. Therefore, this internship has definitely confirmed my interest and career choice as a software engineer. Also, this year and the current pandemic situation also provided a prospect of a remote software engineer job. It is by no means perfect and definitely an adjustment than working on-site. However, it is shown that working remotely as a software engineer could totally be viable.

Working remotely

All in all, I enjoyed my experience working for Nobee. The team comprises of smart and energetic young people and communication is dynamic and comfortable. My supervisor was super helpful, really devoted to help me solve my problems. My advice for future interns at Nobee as well as interns in general relates to communication. If you are running into a difficult problem or unclear instructions, the best thing to do is to discuss with your supervisor. The process of talking and explaining the problem to the supervisor is already the first step to tackle the problem. On top of that, sometimes a simple hint from the supervisor can connect that final dot in your thought process. My advice is not to hesitate to contact your supervisor/project manager and further discuss the problem while of course, making sure that they are available and happy to help.

Post 3: Wrapping up in the Governor’s Virtual Office

As for goals, I wasn’t able to accomplish the major ones, however, that is only due to the virus. Because of the virus, we are not able to work within the actual office in the state capital. It would have been there that I would have been able to meet a lot of cool people and made a lot of connections. That aside, I would still call his summer a success simply because of the fact that I spent my time working to help the constituent of this state. I would not really say that my goals changed.

This internship did not so much clarify but reassure my career choice. The constituent work is not as close to legal work as I would like but it’s still within government and we still do great work. Therefore, I figure if I enjoy this, then when I get a step closer to working in the field of my career, I will be even happier to be there. That said, during my time in this workplace I have discovered that I am adaptable. In the beginning, there was some trouble with getting my account set up. On top of that, when I did get my email, I found that I was not able to access the app that the rest of the team was working on. However, I stuck with it working through Gmail with my supervisor. There were also various processes that I had to learn in order to help constituents such as creating a case and often times drafting responses myself to send out in emails. I also learned that I need to work a little more on my communication skills. In that, my experience was sort of similar to the last half of the spring semester. Working online is just a bit more inconvenient than being in the environment and actively participating in your work.

If I had to give advice to someone who wanted an internship here I would highly recommend it. First off, everyone in the office is so nice. Rory was always there to help me when I needed despite everything through the virus. Jamal gave me great advice when I went to the office over winter break for some training. Secondly, it was a great experience in the sense that you learn so much about local government. Everyone pays so much attention to national politics but in reality, they know little to none about who is running their immediate everyday life. On the flip side to that, you learn a lot about how the local government works in response to the constituents who do take advantage of their power.

This summer I am most proud that I put my foot in the door. This internship is the first that has anything to do with my career choice. That in itself makes it all worth it, even if I did not get the full effect. I also met some very nice people that I hope to continue connecting with over the years to come.

This is a picture of the number of emails I have to go through. http://www.ctcapitolreport.com is the website we use to stay updated about things happening around the state.

When a journey comes to an end…

This summer working on the Ultrasound Elasticity Imaging Laboratory of Columbia University (UEIL) has been an amazing experience. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to make my summer during this strange time a productive one. I have certainly achieved a lot more things than I hoped for. Helping in the development of such an interesting research was truly an incredible way to invest my time and energy in, while at the same time improve myself as a scientist.

One of the reasons I wanted to pursue an internship this summer was that I wanted to experience working in a lab setting, in order to decide if that could be a viable career path for me. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to physically be in the lab. Consequently, I did not get the chance to perform experiments in person or practice using lab equipment. Despite these difficulties, I had the opportunity to study how to analyze data and I became proficient in MATLAB. I learned how to write my own algorithms, which most of the time is a rather creative job.

During this internship, I was required to work on my own, which taught me some crucial skills about working independently, but made me realize that I really enjoy being part of a team and collaborating with other people. This summer, I also cultivated my ability to set goals and manage my time accordingly in order to achieve them. Through this experience, I learned more about myself and my abilities, but I’m set on a course to challenge myself even more.

To anyone interested in pursuing an internship at the UIEL lab in the future, I would say that you should be ready to work hard and dedicate a lot of their time into this research.  Another piece of advice I would like to pass on is the importance of finding a balance between struggling by trying to work through the difficulties on your own and asking for help. By forcing yourself into a situation where you have to think a problem through by yourself, you’re enhancing your critical thinking skills and challenging yourself. That way you learn to research and think outside the box when it comes to finding solutions to your problems. Some more advice I would like to share, is that you should make sure you are interested in the research of the lab you choose to work with because researching and studying about the lab’s research will take most of your time as an intern.

I am beyond thrilled to have worked for the UEIL lab and I am proud of my accomplishments this summer. Contributing to the prestigious research of this lab was something I was not expecting to be able to achieve in such a short amount of time. All those months of preparation, learning MATLAB on my own, and studying research papers were worth every second of my time.

Wrapping Up My Internship

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.

The Final Countdown

“My brain is like two supercomputers working together to process one million zillion signals.” –Anonymous Student

end of summer reflections

As I near the end of my internship with The Quad Manhattan, I am reflecting on my initial goals: To learn and implement new skills of my own; learn how to map a child’s progress and structure a case study; make connections with other students and professionals in my field; get a taste for the worlds of social work and school psychology; and learn how to properly support kids who are struggling.

Over these past two months, I have learned and implemented many strategies to help my students calm down and remain engaged throughout the day. In this sense, I definitely got to work with children in more of a psychological capacity. The case study, rather than being an academic paper as I’d expected, was an end of summer report geared toward the parents. I’m glad that I gained real-world experience communicating with parents and writing something that will help my students’ success in the coming year. 

I was also pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to shadow occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists during their sessions with my students, which helped me observer how these services worked in practice. I gained further experience as an educator as well, leading a psycho-social lesson on turn-taking for my Core group. Overall, as an intern, I did more teamwork than I thought I’d do, especially with the online format. It was really helpful to have that support from my core team, and I feel like I made a lot of great connections with other students, educators, and therapists. I definitely got closer with my kids than I thought possible over Zoom and will be sad to leave them.

A drawing that I made over Zoom with my student during choice time.

Working with The Quad Manhattan solidified my interest in social work and opened me up more to the possibility of working in a school. I would still like to do social work, but I am considering a school social work track, as I really enjoyed working with educators. This internship also pushed me more toward the idea of taking a gap year before getting my Master’s in Social Work (MSW). I learned that while taking classes is valuable, real-world experience is more fulfilling for me and just as important for someone in my field.

My takeaway is that if you’re going into counseling or social work, you don’t need to work in a lab at Harvard (unless you really want to); you need to gain real-world experience by interacting with your target population. You will never know what to expect until you meet the people you intend to serve. If you’re interested in being a Psychosocial Intern at The Quad Manhattan, don’t do anything else in addition to this internship. It’s a full-time job and you will need down time in order to give your students the support that they need. If you end up at The Quad Manhattan, be ready to adjust your students’ goals no matter how robust they seem, and remain open to suggestions from your peers.

I enjoyed so many aspects of my experience with The Quad Manhattan, but I’m proudest of what my students were able to accomplish this summer and the role I played in helping them. My hope is that my work will leave a lasting positive impact on their well-being, and that I can continue to help others in similar ways.

Reflecting On My Internship Experience with Ecomingling

Interning with Ecomingling helped me achieve academic, career, and personal goals. Before the start of my internship, I outlined some of the goals I had hoped to accomplish throughout the course of the summer. These goals included enhancing my environmental knowledge, constructing a clearer understanding of the types of organizations and occupations that exist in the environmental sector, and honing my written and verbal communication skills. I feel proud and grateful to have satisfied each of these goals throughout the course of my internship!

My internship definitely allowed me to clarify my career interests. As previously stated, one of my pre-defined goals was to broaden my understanding of the environmental field as a whole. Ecomingling’s central project currently is the establishment and development of Israel’s first and only anti-plastic coalition, consisting of 10 Israeli NGOs, organizations, and businesses. Forming relationships with and learning about each of these members furthered my understanding of the environmental sector as a whole, and thus, helped me to clarify potential career interests. 

Each of these coalition members are vital to the well-being and growth of the coalition as a whole. Therefore, a lot of my internship duties required me to be in communication with each of these coalition members. Through this communication, I spoke with various environmental leaders in Israel and  was able to establish professional relationships with many interesting people and organizations. In addition to communicating with the coalition board members, I also connected with the various social media campaign managers of each coalition member organization. The relationships I formed with the other social media campaign managers taught me a lot- not only about social media management, but also about the different moving pieces of the entire environmental sector in Israel! 

Just a couple days ago, I was lucky enough to virtually meet with an incoming intern who will take over my role with Ecomingling. Speaking with him felt very significant because I conceptualized and verbalized everything that I learned this summer. After explaining the general internship duties, I also gave him a small piece of advice: ensure that you are genuinely interested in the “why” of Ecomingling. I explained to him that I believed my internship was so successful because I cared deeply about the “why” of Ecomingling- its mission to accelerate sustainability across the globe. I told him that being empowered by the larger picture propelled me in my work and motivated me to do it well. He agreed with me and explained that he felt the same way, which made me feel both comfortable and excited to leave my job in the hands of such a capable and enthusiastic newcomer. 

I am very proud of so much of the work I accomplished this summer: creating Facebook pages, drafting and publishing thoughtful and interesting posts, researching how differing national plastic policies affect those nations’ marine debris, researching where Ecomingling should expand internationally, communicating well and learning from various individuals in the environmental sector, establishing positive relationships with other Ecomingling employees, and so much more. However, I am most proud of one thing: working for an organization that helps make the world a better place. Ecomingling strives to make the earth sustainable and healthy for all living things and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to their mission. 

Here is an image of a post I made to a Facebook group with over 270,000 people. It received 25 comments! 

Here is an image of the spreadsheet I use to plan out the posts I make to Facebook. 

Click here for a link to the Ecomingling facebook page!

Click here for a link to the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition Facebook page, which is the coalition created and developed by Ecomingling!

Post 2: Halfway through my internship at the Valera Lab

I can’t believe I am more than halfway through my summer internship at the Valera Lab. Although it is virtual, I still have been gaining understanding of conducting clinical research and being able to help conduct it myself, too. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am sad that I am not able to work in person with the lab staff, especially my wonderful co-interns Sarah and Olivia. However, we have managed to bond during training and conducting our own independent research project which explores the prevalence of intimate partner violence in transgender women.

I have been incredibly impressed by the lab’s ability to completely re-focus their efforts due to the pandemic. We adapted the in-person protocol to be administered online, and the transition was seamless due to efforts of the lab staff. Instead of using blood marker, hair cortisol, balance, and neurocognitive tests as primary data, we are now using qualitative accounts in conjunction with remotely administered neurocognitive and balance tests. I have enjoyed doing the work but must say that it has gotten very difficult to work from home. It is very easy to get distracted and feel motivated when you are not in a work environment. However, I have been doing the best that I can.

The World of Work is much more exciting than academic life. I believe that learning happens best in a practical, applied experience, and I have gained so much by being in this environment. I have also learned much about working with people while working at the Valera Lab. Through interviewing study participants about their abusive relationships, I have learned how to be compassionate and sympathetic, while maintaining a professional demeanor.

This internship has greatly impacted the trajectory of my academic and professional careers. Before beginning my work at the Valera Lab, I didn’t seriously consider clinical research as a potential career. However, from this experience, I have felt extremely interested in pursuing a career in neuropsychiatric research. I believe that research of this manner makes an impact on the population being studied, and my dream is to highlight and utilize the social justice underpinnings of scientific and public health research.

During this experience, there have been moments where I found myself wishing that I studied psychology and neuroscience, as an academic background like this would enrich my learning in lab. However, I believe that everything happens for a reason – if I hadn’t studied biology and public health, I may not be in this research position right now. And as an incoming junior, I still have time to take neuropsychology classes at Brandeis. I am hopeful that going into those classes with the background that I already have from conducting neuropsychiatric research will give me unique viewpoints and advantages.

MRI Technique Enables Visualization of Brain in Motion ...

Again, I would like to thank Brandeis University’s World of Work (WOW) program for allowing me to do this very impactful and meaningful work.

– Maddy Pliskin

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!

Skillbuilding in a Virtual Internship

Before I knew that my internship was going to be virtual, I was looking forward to spending the summer in Gloucester. It’s somewhere I’ve never spent a lot of time and I was excited about being independent (I was planning on living alone in an AirBnB) and meeting new people. But I was also nervous about it. So when it was official that I would be staying home in California with my parents, I was disappointed to miss out on this opportunity to grow, but tried to stay positive by remembering that I’ll still have all the comforts of home this summer. I don’t have to worry about living alone or getting to know a new place, and I don’t have to cook myself dinner. I’ll have to look for growth in other ways! 

Working virtually has come with some challenges. The hardest thing about working virtually has been that I’m not in an office around co-workers, and it’s been hard to stay motivated in this work environment. I thought it would be more like school, since I mostly work independently on homework. However, this job doesn’t have many deadlines for work products, so I just have to get in my hours and try to finish my work as soon as I can. This is difficult when I’m at home alone. 

I also found that I didn’t have enough work to keep me busy with the two projects that my supervisor assigned me initially, so I asked to be put on another assignment. I will now be working on the marketing team as well. In this project, I am tasked with writing at least one blog post a week, which has been really helpful to have a specific assignment with a deadline, plus I can write more blog posts if I want and have extra time. The blogs will be published on the new Seaside Sustainability website which will be ready soon. I also will be helping another person with the monthly newsletter, which will be a great chance to work with other people. Here’s an example of last month’s newsletter.

This internship isn’t how I imagined, but I am meeting my goals in new ways and gaining skills I didn’t anticipate. I haven’t been able to work on events like I had hoped, but I am learning to be flexible and figure out how to make the most of the situation. One skill that I’ve been practicing that I didn’t expect is self-advocacy. In the first few weeks, I wasn’t getting what I needed from the first projects I was assigned. I spoke to my advisor about how I could do more work to help the organization and gain more of the skills I wanted. This practice of speaking up to negotiate better situations is an important skill anywhere, especially in future jobs.

Post 2: The Importance of the School to Prison Pipeline

The work I’m doing with Transition H.O.P.E. is directly related to the coursework in a legal studies class I took this most recent semester. This class was taught by Professor Rosalind Kabrhel and it’s titled “Juvenile Justice: From Cradle to Custody.” I believe this is the first course of this nature taught in the legal studies department at Brandeis. Across the country, the faults of the criminal justice system are becoming an increasingly discussed topic since we’ve seen the issue of mass incarceration becoming a controversial issue in politics. In this course, we discussed, in-depth, the school-to-prison pipeline and how early on it is decided on behalf of children what path they are destined to go down. The population of youth that are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system, in a negative way, are youth who are involved with the Department of Children & Families (DCF), who are homeless or living in low income neighborhoods, who have family members who are already incarcerated or come from single-parent households, or who do not have the option to attend school in high-performing districts. The list goes on and on and on.

Alongside the history of how youth of color are disproportionately reprimanded and criminalized in their daily lives, I was also lucky enough to learn about the psychological damage to youth who have had interactions with the police, DCF, and/or or the Department of Youth Services (which is the Boston-specific department that works with juveniles involved in the justice system). I learned in this course about the trauma and triggering factors that negatively affect a specific population of youth every day. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many sources out there legitimately trying to help them. These youth are instead incarcerated until they they are no longer deemed a “threat to society.”

Learning this information directly helped me prepare for the work I am doing now. As I discussed in my last blog post, the youth I work with are system-involved. I’m sure that most people see them as “troubled kids” who can’t be helped, but I fully understand that most of the time they are misunderstood and simply victims of their own circumstances. “Juvenile Justice” has played such an important and significant role in better understanding the youth I am working with. However, at the end of the day, reading endless articles and books is nothing in comparison to actually having a direct interaction with the people you are trying to help. I’m grateful that the class I took set me up with enough understanding so I could better position myself to be an effective source of help for the program’s participants (but trust me, I’m still learning every day.) Along with a great deal of help from my boss, that class completely informed my approach on how to talk about school or personal lives with these youth. It helped me avoid potentially triggering youth and gave me a better clue as to the potential backgrounds they might have. 

The main project I’m working on for Transition H.O.P.E. is compiling the life stories of the program participants in order to put together a magazine. This magazine will eventually be used in college classrooms as an informative tool for students who are studying topics like social work, criminal justice, and psychology, so they can have a direct source of knowledge that isn’t a peer-reviewed article or a book by someone who has actually never directly worked with such populations.

Even though this will be used as an informative tool for college students, it also acts as a method of “narrative exposure therapy” for the students. Sharing their life stories through a creative outlet gives them the opportunity to not only experience a sense of catharsis but to be their own advocates in hopes that the people who read the magazine can join them in the attempt to change the systems that have hurt them and their respective communities. This project is similar to a book I read for “Juvenile Justice” titled It’s Not About Grit, which conducted youth-led storytelling through writing and video.

A sneak peek into one of the pages for the magazine I’m working on!

What I love about this project, tentatively titled the “SEED Magazine,” is that the students will also be able to receive residual income. All profits from the magazine go directly to the program participants as compensation for sharing their stories. This is important because by purchasing the magazine, the reader is reinvesting their money into the communities they’re studying and reading. Reinvestment in the communities hurt by decades of systemic and institutional racism and violence is equally important as educating yourself on the issues in the first place.

Midsummer Reflections

Camp: Week 2

“I’m in a loving, caring zone.”

– Anonymous Camper

I am now on Week 4 of working with The Quad, and Week 2 of virtual camp! Getting to know my campers has been so exciting, and I’m having such a great time working with these amazing kids. Over the past two weeks, I have noticed both some benefits and some difficulties of working with children over Zoom: There is less of a concern for physical behavior, yet only having access to campers through a screen makes it much easier to lose them. While the kids are enjoying really fun activities, they can also get distracted by their screens, disappear from view, or leave the meeting altogether if they are bored or frustrated. This makes it harder for us to problem solve and means that the parents are more involved in camp than usual. More often than not, we’re able to take our campers to breakout rooms to decompress if they’re having trouble.

An Inside-Out themed Zones of Regulation chart that we used in our core lesson plan this week.

So far, we have learned new strategies like the Zones of Regulation and tried new things in our classes, such as online drawing and Dungeons and Dragons. In contrast to my university schedule, which would have a later start, my Quad schedule consists of camp from 8 A.M.-2 P.M. and various psychosocial and intern meetings in the afternoons.

I’ll admit that waking up at 7 A.M. every morning has been an adjustment, but overall, having a regular work schedule feels healthier and more rewarding. As a Brandeisian, I would normally be taking four classes, working two jobs, and leading two clubs, but as an intern, I am able to pour all of my cognitive resources into my work with The Quad. Even though it’s a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities, I feel at ease knowing that I have the time to give it my all and a strong team supporting me along the way.

The Tacosaur, a possible Core 1 mascot.

As we approach midsummer conferences with parents, I am reflecting on all of the skills that this experience has taught me so far. I have learned strategies for helping children regulate their emotions, how to phrase things in a way that makes them feel validated, and how to come up with feasible goals. I have gotten to sit in on speech and occupational therapy, witnessing my campers’ progress and meeting the professionals who work with them. I have learned to look past diagnoses and focus on kids’ abilities. And perhaps most importantly, I have learned to rely on and work with my core team of interns and educators to make sure we’re doing the best for our campers.

All of these skills will prepare me for future jobs in the mental health field, and for any collaboration I may have with educators. The Quad has made me think in new ways, and I hope that for the rest of the summer, my campers will continue to learn as much from me as I have from them.

Post 2: Investigating Cold Cases with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office

In the spring semester of 2019, I took LGLS 142B: Law & Psychology with Professor Rosalind Kabrhel. I learned a great deal not only about the law, but also about the factors that shape public perception of the justice system, its legal actors, and the civilians who become involved with it. In Law & Psychology, we explored the intersection of the media and the law in depth, a topic that has always been of particular interest to me. I have also been long fascinated with “cold cases” — crimes that have remained unsolved for a long period of time with no new evidence, and have thus been considered low priority to the investigating agencies. These cases, however, are not considered low priority to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, which launched an entire unit dedicated to investigating them (see Middlesex DA Marian Ryan creates cold case unit”). Under District Attorney Marian Ryan, the office has brought justice to the victims and families of a number of the county’s oldest unsolved cases, including:

A clipping from a September 28, 1969 article in the Lowell Sun about McCabe’s murder

Confidentiality is imperative in this job, and disclosing specifics can threaten the integrity of the investigations and the privacy of the individuals involved. One of my current projects concerns media coverage and unsolved homicides. After poring over decades worth of coverage, I have been reminded of what we discussed in Prof. Kabrhel’s course. The news media has often been referred to as the “fourth branch” of the U.S. government, and its impact on the workings of the criminal justice system cannot be overstated. While the media is an absolutely essential agent in maintaining our democracy, and it helps to hold our elected officials accountable to the people they serve, it can also create bias within the public. In jury trials for cases that the media has covered extensively, it is very difficult to satisfy a defendant’s 6th Amendment right to an impartial jury. News coverage also often includes evidence that will not be admissible in court, impeding jurors’ ability to rule based on only the evidence presented to them in the courtroom. A change of venue often helps in these cases, but when a case has received national attention, the challenge is greater.

One thing I have been thinking about a great deal, however, is the way the news media’s portrayal of the victims of homicide comes into play. In my research, I came across an article from the 1970s potentially linking the disappearances/murders of three girls in the area. While the point of the following description is to convey how serial killers select victims based on vulnerability, the article also paints a rather clear portrait of the victims: 

“[Victim #1] was a chronic runaway, a drug addict, a hitchhiker, and a child. [Victim #2]... was a chronic runaway and a child. And [Victim #3]...was a child known to talk to strangers.”

The terms used convey value-based assessments about the victims. When a victim has a history of running away, both the investigators and the public can easily write it off. People fear less for their own safety when they feel the crime could not have affected them personally, but rather was the byproduct of the victim’s decisions and character. These portrayals detract from the sympathy felt toward the victim and their family, which unfortunately can matter immensely in how an investigation is prioritized. Public pressure to solve the case diminishes and justice is never served. This effect can be seen in a later submission by a member of the public concerning the wrongful death suit Victim #1’s parents filed. The commentator harshly criticizes the parents for taking legal action because their daughter had a history of running away (and thus they did not immediately report her as missing). 

In my research, I also read an article about a victim whose family pleaded for anyone with information that might help solve the case to come forward, as the victim’s grandmother is terminally ill and her only wish is to find out what happened to her granddaughter. Homicide is more than just true crime podcasts and documentaries — it wreaks havoc on real peoples’ lives. The Cold Case unit plays a key role in furthering the MDAO’s mission to deliver justice to all those impacted by crime. Its successes not only mean that the person responsible is held accountable and no longer poses a threat to public safety, but also that a victim’s loved ones are provided answers that they have often waited decades for.

UEI Lab: The journey continues…

This internship has been a great experience during a very challenging time. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to the prestigious research of the Ultrasound Elasticity Imaging Laboratory (UEIL) of Columbia University. I am thankful that I was able to pursue an online internship this summer, especially considering that most internships were cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. So far, this experience was drastically different than I had imagined. It taught me how to think like a researcher and it gave me an idea of what it’s really like to work in a lab. Additionally, this online experience enhanced independent work, which was something I wanted to get more comfortable with, since I never had the opportunity to work outside of a team setting.

Real life problems (especially in science) don’t always have solutions and it usually takes years to discover a method or a drug that works the desired way. Being part of an overall research but doing something very specific was an interesting experience for me. In college, the knowledge we acquire is organized and packaged within a well thought out curriculum. The questions that we encounter, for the most part, have been already answered.  In research, there is an infinite amount of unanswered questions for scientists to explore. One of the things I found hard was to select which question I was going to investigate as well as working towards this goal, while at the same time being on track with everyone else in the lab.

While working, I had the opportunity to observe the lab meetings and listen to the progress of various individual projects from people with a higher education level than mine, something that really opened up my mind. Even without being able to physically be in the lab, I have learned many valuable things the past four weeks. Most importantly, I acquired programming skills, which are a fundamental knowledge for every science field. For example, programming (Matlab and R) will surely be a useful skill to have for future internships and jobs, or master and PhD programs. Pretty early on, I realized that in a lab setting, while trying to answer the bigger question, secondary questions will arise, and you are expected to come up with your own answers through your research. This was something that I found very challenging, but it helped me be more independent, the importance of which I cannot emphasize enough. I was also asked to present my work weekly, which helped me develop my presentation skills, taught me how to organize and convey my thoughts, and how to use feedback and constructive criticism to progress. Those meetings also kept me on track with my goals for the summer.  So far, I have gained very useful skills from this experience, which I hope I will further improve in the remaining time in the lab. I am looking forward to continue exploring my abilities and learning throughout this summer.

Post 2: Virtual Government Work

First off, I have to say I’m very disappointed I did not get a chance to work in the state capital this summer. Working in the building was one of the main highlights of the job being as that I could have met so much people and began to network. The days that I did go (over winter break for training) I started to get a sense of what its like and everyone was so nice. I was looking forward to working with and getting to know these people. Not to mention the random masses of protestors coming in and out before and after session. Now it feels no different than when we were doing classes online. I was more okay with that change but I find it hard being home and having to do work. However, on the other hand, I still feel as though we are doing good work, which is fine with me. I go through hundreds of emails a week trying to help constituents with their problems and at least that feels good. I just don’t feel as though I’m getting the experience I signed up for.

I believe this isn’t that different from university life. Im expected to turn in some said amount of work by a certain time. The only differences are the obvious ones: Im working for my boss not my professor, the work I’m doing is to help others and not myself.

One good skill I’m gaining or honing in on out of this is responsibility. Honestly, the only other professional setting I have worked in besides maybe campus is my job at CVS. Obviously my responsibilities at CVS are dramatically different than working at the governors office, so I feel as though I have gained a whole new aspect of responsibility. Im no longer the kid who sits at the register all day but now I am one of the workers in the office and I share nearly equal responsibility with everyone, with the exception of my supervisor of course. However, we ALL sort emails and etc., he is just better trained so a lot of my decisions have to go through him. Another skill I have learned is another form of code switching. In my neighborhood we use a lot of slang and it does tend to carry over places, however, there is no room for it here. The language required to address constituents has to be very specific given that we are representing the governor himself, which can be difficult some times because as I mentioned before, I have to run everything by my supervisor first. However, he has mentioned to me before that my email drafts are getting better and that I should be able to work on my own at some point.

http://www.ctcapitolreport.com

The hyper link above is the website we use to stay updated about events going on around the state, as it is our job to know these things if a constituent was to come asking.

Finding My Own Way

Over the last eight weeks, I learned so much not only about the topic of my project, but also how to best manage my time and succeed while working remotely. Almost every day, simple questions arise that could easily and quickly be answered in person. Yet in this remote setting, the challenges of ascertaining answers take extra time away from moving forward with the project. As an example, towards the beginning of this internship I had a question about how to use a certain feature on SAOImage DS9, an astronomical imaging and data visualization application. Instead of receiving an immediate answer from a collaborator in my group as I would in an in-person setting, I needed to wait two days to get a reply from the help desk. The constant back and forth with my supervisor and several help desks results in slowed progress, however it also pushes me to search and learn more about these topics. Although at times working remotely can prove to be frustrating, I have learned that patience and perseverance go a long way towards helping me achieve my goals.

As a result of the World of Work Fellowship, I am able to participate in this fascinating astronomical research. This position is my first time working as part of a research team, which has been unlike any experience, school or work, that I have had before. During the school year, so much time is focused on attending classes, finishing assignments on time, studying for exams, and getting extra help when needed that the whole process becomes monotonous and predictable. On the other hand, working as a researcher on an entirely new project provides unique experiences and allows room for exploration. Instead of reading from a textbook to learn assigned material, I need to find many different sources to piece together enough valuable information for my specific topic so that I can proceed with certainty and know that I’m doing each step correctly. This interesting process ensures that every day I learn about new concepts and accomplish new pieces of the project.

At the start of this internship I set out with several goals intended to help me academically and towards future career plans. One of the most important skills I built during this project is my ability to continue searching for solutions to a question until I reach a suitable answer. Developing this skill is invaluable towards future successes. Additionally, I have learned a lot about astronomy and data analysis skills. Furthermore, throughout this internship I exclusively coded in Python, enhancing my programming abilities as well as expanding my knowledge of programming languages. As I continue in my studies at Brandeis the experience I gained will help me in my pursuit of science, scientific research, and the learning process. Additionally, learning to forge my own way using resources that I also need to identify has expanded the way I think and will influence all that I do in the future both academically and in extra-curricular activities.

Interning Amidst COVID-19

The global pandemic is affecting everyone’s lives in deep and personal ways. One of the many ways in which COVID-19 has influenced my life is through my summer internship, which was originally set to be in person. However, along with so many other facets of life, virtual became the new normal and my new expectation. 

Overall, I am really enjoying my internship with Ecomingling. I have learned integral personal, communicative, and environmental skills, I have (virtually) met some very inspiring people, and I have furthered my understanding and relationship to the environmental sector as a whole. On top of all of that, I feel very grateful that I have a summer internship at all, given today’s current climate. 

That being said, there is something missing from a fully remote experience. There is something so distinct and human and gratifying about sitting side-by-side, making eye contact, and conversing with people who are in the same physical room as you. This is something that is missing from my internship. This is something that is missing from so much of our daily lives today. 

However, given that this aspect of our lives is currently non-negotiable, I am so happy to have the opportunity to intern with Ecomingling this summer! Being a part of the World of Work is quite different from typical university life. One particular difference I have noticed between the two is the expectations that exist surrounding work. In typical academic life, there is a predetermined number and type of assignments, often made clear and accessible to me and the other students at the start of the semester. Often, these assignments come with detailed instructions, expected deadlines are set, and grades are given by the professor once the work has been submitted. 

However, my internship work is much more flexible than this. It bends and shifts based on Ecomingling’s constantly and rapidly changing needs. I was not given a list at the start of my internship with all the assignments to complete by the end of the three months. Also, I am not given a letter grade based off of my work; rather, my supervisor provides me with tailored, constant feedback. The shifting work of my internship reflects the busy and complex nature of existing in the “real world” with “real people”. 

My internship with Ecomingling has helped me build many skills that will be transferable to other aspects of my life. For instance, my internship has given me a taste of what the “real world” looks like. By gaining experience with this start-up, I have learned about the necessity to have a drive and a passion for whatever you are involved with. I have learned that although teamwork and collaboration are sometimes challenging, the overall output is much higher when working with others. I have learned that running a start-up is messy and complicated, but that is precisely what makes it exciting and worthwhile.

Furthermore, I have enhanced my written and verbal communication skills, I have bolstered my social media and digital marketing literacy, I have increased my ability to do meaningful research, and most importantly, I have furthered my environmental awareness, knowledge, and passion. I am learning all of these skills and more with Ecomingling. I know these skills will be valuable to me throughout the rest of my life- in the academic world, in my future career(s), and beyond. 

Click here to view the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition Facebook page I created and have been managing (a coalition created and managed by Ecomingling)!

Click here to view the Ecomingling Facebook page I have been managing!

Here is an example of an image I used as the graphic for a Facebook post, in which I provided a link to download a brochure about plastic!

Getting Oriented with Seaside Sustainability

On July 1st I started interning with Seaside Sustainability, a small environmental nonprofit based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Their mission is to “passionately create sustainable oceans & communities by educating through action.” They accomplish this through work in environmental education, legislation, and technology. 

So far I’m working on two projects. The first is a data collection project that is a requirement for all Seaside interns. I am collecting contact information for teachers and administrators for every elementary, middle, and high school in the country, as well as information about their STEM programs. This will help Seaside expand the National Stem Honors Society program, which “is a chapter-based program that supports academic achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

I’ve also been working on the sustainability calculator project. The final goal for the project is to produce a web page on which people can answer a quiz about their lifestyle and a calculator outputs their CO2 emissions, waste production, and water consumption. A similar calculator can be found on footprintnetwork.org. However, the footprintnetwork calculator only calculates your CO2 production, while the Seaside calculator will have additional measures. So far I’ve been helping to formulate questions and do research mostly for the water section of the project. I chose to work on this project because my academic goal for the summer is to improve and practice my analytical and research skills. 

I have only been working for a week and I hope to be able to work on additional projects soon. At Seaside Sustainability, interns are encouraged to take on new roles and projects throughout the program. This will be a great opportunity for me to adapt quickly and gain confidence in changing circumstances. A personal goal of mine for this summer is to become more comfortable in new roles and environments.

One of my career goals is to learn more about nonprofit management and organization, such as how nonprofits fund their work, organize internally, and engage their constituencies to accomplish their mission. I still want to get involved in more event planning, development, and fundraising, but so far I have gotten a look at some of the internal structure of the organization. Seaside uses Trello to organize work in the internship program, which is an online project management tool that allows people to work on projects in teams, and have lots of instructions available virtually. In addition, the projects are managed by interns. It seems the internship program is able to run pretty autonomously. Here’s a picture of my personal Trello board, which was all set up for me when I started my internship, and made my onboarding process quite independent.

I’m meeting with my internship manager for the second time tomorrow to discuss what other projects I could get involved with. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll be able to learn and accomplish this summer!

Post 1 – First month at Nobee

During my sophomore year when I took Software Entrepreneurship, I got a chance to meet Danny Nguyen and heard about his company Nobee. Nobee seeks to connect landlords to tenants without going through brokers and as a result saving both the landlord and the tenant from exorbitant brokerage fees. Having been troubled with broker fees myself while on my search of off-campus housing, I think Nobee would be absolutely useful not only for me but everyone else during their search for housing. For that reason, I would like to be a part of Nobee to help realize their goal to help eliminate broker fees once and for all. And so, I applied and gladly accepted their internship offer.

Nobee Inc., a startup based in Boston, is currently building and maintaining a web application on Ruby on Rails platform. The team is made up of a few software engineers and a few people on the business side, all are Brandeis and Northeastern grads. While working remotely does present some problems regarding communications and planning, Nobee still works together like a well-oiled machine.

Looking for a new place to call home? Check out Nobee at https://www.rentnobee.com/

 

My main responsibility at Nobee is to conduct research on the functionalities of the deployed app on a few different metrics. Essentially, I make sure that everything is running smoothly, the connections to the servers are quick and reliable, and should there be any issue or blockage, I research a possible solution. I am also working on a side project in Ruby on Rails, aiming to create a responsive application that can handle adding, editing, and deleting content in real time.

My goals at the beginning were to learn practical programming skills, build functional projects, and get hands-on experience on the software developing cycle and the housing market. While the work can be demanding, it is absolutely worth it being part of this energetic and hardworking team. I look forward to my remaining time working at Nobee!!

The Mysteries of Space Dust

Have you ever looked up at the sky during a very clear night and wondered what is really out there? The expansiveness of the universe continually boggles my mind. In the hopes of learning more about the star dust from whence we all came I decided to search for an astronomy internship for the summer. I was fortunate enough to land a research project under Professor Daniel Wang in the Astronomy Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

For this internship I am studying the dust attenuation curve, which determines the amount of interstellar absorption and scattering of light as a function of wavelength, in the central region of the nearby Andromeda galaxy. The determination of the attenuation curve is critical for astronomers to probe the intrinsic properties of galaxies, as well as interstellar dust. Existing studies have shown evidence that the attenuation curve is steeper in this galaxy than in the Milky Way. Additionally, the strong 2175 Angstrom attenuation bump appears to vary among different dusty clumps in the region. In order to better understand these important characteristics of the attenuation properties and their spatial variation, we have obtained spectroscopic data from the Hubble Space Telescope STIS observations of two prominent dusty clumps. Results from this study compared with previous multi-wavelength data will further our knowledge with regard to what causes the steep slope of the attenuation curve in the region, and how the variation of the curve depends on the properties and environments of the clumps. This research is important for us to use the central region as a laboratory to explore how high-energy activity in a galactic nucleus affects its environment.

Thus far, I started processing the Hubble Space Telescope data to extract spectra, and soon I hope to confront them with models to better understand the dust properties in the extreme nuclear environment of the galaxy. My work focuses on the dusty clumps within the blue box, as seen in the figure above. While working on this project I have learned a great deal about astronomy, data analysis, programming, and the patience required for conducting research. Every day my goal is to accomplish a few small things so that over time these successes will add up towards a significant result.

 

My dream come true: A summer at Columbia University’s UEIL Lab

 

Ultrasound Elasticity Imaging Laboratory (UEIL) is part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and it is also one of the biggest labs in its field of ultrasound. https://ueil.bme.columbia.edu/ It has approximately 30 people from different educational levels in its employ. The UEIL works on developing novel, ultrasound-based techniques for both imaging and therapeutic applications. The main areas of focus at the time include drug delivery to the brain by opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) using focused ultrasound, mapping the mechanical and electromechanical properties of the heart, harmonic motion imaging, pulse wave imaging, and neuromodulation.

During this internship, I will start by processing images of the skull microstructure. Figure 1 is a binary image of the skull microstructure that I created. This internship requires me to become proficient in Matlab, read research papers in order to understand preexisting information and form questions that are relevant to the goal of this research. The goal of my project is to extract valuable information for the skull microstructure such as its porosity, the number of pores and their size, and its density.

Figure 1: Binary image

When we are dealing with Focused Ultrasound in the brain either for imaging or therapeutic purposes, the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is the skull. The reason is that it makes it difficult to pass the ultrasonic wave through. Studying the skull microstructure will enable us to see how it impacts the wave propagation. This information helps the focused ultrasound work more precisely, something crucial in terms of BBB opening or ultrasound therapy in the brain.

This internship will help me to achieve the goals I have set for myself. In the world of science, programming is the most essential tool to conduct research. An important goal for me is to learn how to analyze data in Matlab. In order to do that, I will have to also learn the different methods of collecting data and the use of appropriate controls. Another reason I decided to do an internship in a research lab is that I believe it will help me decide if I want to pursue this career. Two months might be a short time period, but it will certainly get me a bit closer in setting my future goals even through this online interaction. 

Lastly, working on a team has always been a way for me to be more productive and to gain inspiration. However, this internship will require me to work independently, solve challenging questions, while also coming up with new questions to solve. Through weekly progress meetings, the other interns and I will have the opportunity to learn details about each other’s projects, gain a better understanding of the bigger picture, and have all the support we need. Overall, this internship will help me achieve my main goal which is allowing myself to struggle and find ways to overcome those challenges on my own.

 

 

Post 1 – Interning at Image Insight Inc.

This past fall semester, I took an Intro to Artificial Intelligence course which ignited my interest in AI and machine learning. One particular notion that fascinated me was the idea of how machine learning is an “enabling technology.” Just as the invention of programmable computers replaced the need to make a new circuit – drastically decreasing software development time – machine learning has this same potential to help software engineers do their jobs more efficiently. It was an exciting class, and after it ended I couldn’t wait to get my feet wet in the real-world.
This summer, my internship will give me the opportunity to apply many of the machine learning techniques that I have studied this past year. I’m interning for Image Insight Inc., a company whose mission is to provide low-cost radiation detection to the general public. Radiation is prevalent in many aspects of our lives at various levels, and high levels of radiation are dangerous and hazardous. The technology we’re developing can aid users at a multitude of levels, including the military, first responders, and people who receive radioactive treatments.
While many advancements have been made, there are still some problems that need refining in order for this technology to be utilized at its highest potential. For example, different cameras detect varying levels of radiation, and consistently standardizing what a normal level of background radiation looks like is difficult even between identical cameras.
This summer, I will use a machine learning approach to solve this problem as well as several issues from the nature of radioactive randomness. Solving these problems will allow for smoother transitions from device to device. In 2015, there were reportedly over 24,000 different types of
android phones on the market so it’s not realistic to individually tailor a solution for every single kind of phone on the market. Instead, new approaches and fresh techniques may be just what we need to broaden the scope of this technology to make it more accessible in the market.
This summer, I’m excited to have my first professional experience in a software development and machine learning setting. I hope to make a valuable contribution based on what I’ve learned in class, and see how it applies to Image Insight’s needs. I’m also looking forward to learning how to navigate a professional environment, even if I have to do it over conference call. Originally, the internship was planned to be onsite, and due to COVID-19 I will be working remotely. Luckily, I’ve already met the rest of my team and have begun working with them. I look forward to learning a lot and am very excited about what the rest of the summer has to offer.

Week 1 at The Quad Manhattan

About The Quad

This summer, I am working as a Psychosocial Intern at The Quad Manhattan, a summer camp based in New York City (now online). The Quad was founded as a learning space for twice exceptional (2e) children, a term that Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman defines in his book Twice Exceptional

Twice exceptional individuals demonstrate exceptional levels of capacity, competence, commitment, or creativity in one or more domains coupled with one or more learning difficulties. This combination of exceptionalities results in a unique set of circumstances. Their exceptional potentialities may dominate, hiding their disability; their disability may dominate, hiding their exceptional potentialities; each may mask the other so that neither is recognized or addressed. (7)

The Quad’s mission is to provide a space where gifted children with learning disabilities can gain the skills they need while still being challenged in a range of creative activities. Many of the learning deficits found in our campers are related to language and academic development, as well as social skills. Therefore, we tailor our support and approach to each child’s unique set of strengths difficulties.

My Responsibilities

An image of my core age group via The Quad Manhattan.

As an intern, my job is to support campers during times of confusion and encourage them when they are inspired. This summer, I will be working with a team of educators, fellow interns, and psychologists to create learning plans for a core group of campers. My group is Core 1, which is for children aged 6-8.

I am currently in a two-week training period to grasp strategies for learning and behavioral interventions and techniques derived from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Although I will not be providing therapy, I will look for signs that indicate children need help during camp activities to make sure their needs are met and to avoid distress.

I have been assigned two campers within my core group with whom I will work more closely to develop a rapport and solutions to problems that arise. Throughout the summer, I will keep records of these campers’ progress in a case study, which I will complete with the help of my supervisors.

The Quad in a virtual setting

Due to the COVID-19, things will look a bit different this summer with our new online format and the added stresses of a pandemic. In training, we have been discussing the potential impact and foresee that while our campers may face fewer social challenges, they may also face a new set of complications arising from technology (i.e. glitching, leaving the Zoom call, playing video games off-screen). There may also be children whose family members have been infected with COVID-19 or impacted by the systemic racism that remains pervasive in our country, whether it be at the hands of the police, the healthcare system, or both.

While we cannot singlehandedly solve these larger societal problems, we will provide support and outlets for our campers so that they can process and decompress in a safe environment. The Quad’s long-term goal is to give the children the tools they need to thrive in a general education setting and in life beyond schooling.

Summer goals & excitement

My personal goals for the summer are to learn and implement new skills of my own, such as the various intervention techniques I am studying; learning how to map a child’s progress and structure a case study; making connections with other students and professionals in my field; getting a taste for the worlds of social work and school psychology; and finally, learning how to properly support kids who are struggling and finding solutions to support their unique needs.

After days of reading about my campers, I can’t wait to meet them when camp begins and to get to know them throughout the summer!

Post 1: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s Office

This summer I am working in the Office of Governor Ned Lamont in Constituent Services and External Affairs.

I started my internship about 2-3 weeks ago. Since we are not allowed in the building the experience is a little less than what I was expecting to get. Normally, we would have physical letters to go through, and proclamations to create, however, there is nowhere for anyone to mail in to and no machines to print proclamations. Therefore, we just sort emails all day.

A lot of people have many concerns during this time, ranging from COVID to police brutality. So far I’ve learned to respond to several types of emails on my own, one of them being people who have yet to receive their unemployment checks. I get about 100 emails to go through a week and if there are any I feel like I can’t respond to, my supervisor and I go over them together and he gives me further instructions. I’m actually getting to a point where he wants me to start drafting responses for myself and having him look over it. I just have to get used to the language used by the office and learn a lot more solutions.

One example of that is creating a “case”. This is when a constituent has emailed us with a problem significant enough for a course of action. I then would have to go online and create this case where I’m sending the email directly to a person who can solve this constituent’s problem. That said, our mission is to get through as many emails as possible so that we can help people with their problems in these rough times. Here is a website we send constituents for updates.

My goal by the end of this summer program is to familiarize myself with the different components of local government. When I went for my training back in December, the people in the office taught me so much about the local government it was crazy. I had no idea how oblivious I was to what my local government does due to the fact that everyone always has an eye on federal politics. However, I believe that if people want the machine that is the government to start working in their favor, they must master local politics. When I say master I mean become educated about its components and then utilizing them: emailing the governor, going to open sessions, protesting in the lobby, etc.

I chose to look for an internship in my city because, hopefully, when I become a lawyer, I want to work back home where I can help my people. This internship will not only get my foot in the door but it will give me a lot of the knowledge I need to eventually be able to make a change in my community. My supervisor is also pretty nice, he gives me a lot of room to ask questions and he works with me a lot to make sure I’m situated.

Post 1: My Internship at Wilson, Brock & Irby, Law LLC

Hello! My name is Roland Blanding, and I am a rising senior at Brandeis University. On campus, I am the president of the Men of Color Alliance, and the issues facing communities of color are of tremendous importance to me. One of my goals is to find a way to reverse the displacement of gentrification and find innovative ways of building mixed-income residential neighborhoods. I want to break the generational pattern of poverty by giving diverse communities access to home equity. Given that mission, I pursued and began my internship at Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC in my hometown of Atlanta under Larry Dingle, one of the most prominent black lawyers in Georgia.

Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC is a small law firm specializing in commercial real estate. They are based in Atlanta, but operate through the entirety of the state of Georgia. Their work ranges from massive infrastructure and commercial development contracts with the city of Atlanta to volunteer representation for small business owners and homeowners that would not usually be able to afford their fees. One of the reasons that the firm initially stuck out to me was their commitment to help service organizations find venues. For example, Mr. Dingle represented the Community Food Bank in their suit to open a new facility a few miles away from my home. Much of the work consists of understanding the intersections of government and businesses. This means conferencing with commercial clients, meeting with city officials, and drafting contracts that allow both parties to benefit. The goal of these conferences is often to rezone property, for example, from residential to commercial to allow the construction of a multifamily unit within the inner city. Conversely, for some especially unique tasks, like building a cell tower in the middle of the town—which would typically violate several building height limits—the firm requests to open a lease with the city, because municipal governments are immune from their own zoning rules. Every case is fresh and brings a new set of challenges.

This summer, my goals are to prepare for the LSAT and familiarize myself with case law, especially in the state of Georgia. Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC gives me unique access to their library of cases at the district, state, and federal level that revolve around contracts, real estate, zoning, and land use. My day to day consists of video conferencing with the partners at the firm to review case law and the cases they are actively working on. I also manage the delivery of documents to and from the offices of officials in city hall and participate in conference calls with clients. Working at a law firm during coronavirus has been unique compared to last year because a lot of the work that lawyers do is in person, face-to-face. As a result, almost all the operations in the firm are being carried out through video conferences, to maintain the health and safety of the firm as well as their clients.

Post 1: Interning at the CARE Lab

My internship at the Cognition and Affect Research and Education (CARE) lab actually began in January, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue what started off as a spring position into the summer. The lab operates within the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program (BHP), which is an intensive day program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA for those seeking treatment for various mental health issues, including mood, anxiety, thought, and personality disorders. It uses a behavioral therapy approach that provides comprehensive, skills-based treatment aimed at reducing a patient’s symptoms, improving their functioning, and transitioning to outpatient treatment, with the average length of treatment being three to ten business days.

The BHP

Besides the program itself, the BHP conducts extensive research (of which the CARE Lab is a large part) to improve the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. It uses an integrative approach where research informs clinical practice, and clinical practice informs research. The program’s research focus includes predicting who will respond best to treatment, understanding why the treatment works, and developing new and innovative interventions based on that information. Patient data is collected through daily computerized self-report measures and a diagnostic interview, and this information is used to inform individualized case conceptualization and treatment planning, as well as assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and more. The CARE Lab, which is more specifically where my internship is taking place, conducts research to identify cognitive and affective mechanisms underlying emotional disorders, translate those findings into new treatments, and implement those treatments in real-world clinical settings.

One of the projects I’m most involved with this summer is a cognitive control training (CCT) study for urgency. Urgency is the tendency to respond impulsively to strong emotions, and it’s closely tied to cognitive control, or the ability to resist impulses and make decisions based on one’s goals. The main aim of the study is to investigate whether a CCT intervention, involving brief computer tasks to improve memory and self-control, is feasible in a clinical setting and accepted by patients, as well as whether it improves cognitive control and impulsivity. While I was in-person during the spring semester, I was running participants through the study sessions, but over the summer I have already started to help with some preliminary analyses and aggregation of data in R and SPSS, which helps move the study toward the full analysis stage.

Another thing I’ll be working on this summer is my own independent project. It will likely evolve over time, but as of now, it will be looking at the relationships between distress tolerance, current emotional state, and cognitive performance. I’ll use data collected from the CCT study (both self-report and task data) to investigate whether distress tolerance and current emotional state independently or jointly relate to one’s performance on cognitive tasks involving working memory, response inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. Currently I am just at the beginning stages of it, doing reviews of the literature to see what’s already been studied, but as the summer progresses, I’ll progress in this project too.

In terms of my goals for the summer, I have two main ones. First, I plan to get a PhD in clinical psychology and eventually become a clinical neuropsychologist, so I hope to gain career related skills and experience, especially first-hand through my own research project. Second, I want to hone my collaboration skills and work with, and learn from, experts in the field I plan to pursue. I have one-on-one meetings with my supervisor and will also attend lab meetings, so that, combined with the actual content of my internship, will give me plenty of opportunities to achieve both of these goals.

– Jenna Sandler

Post 1: My Internship at The Valera Lab

This past year I was a Lurie Undergraduate Fellow in Disability Policy Research at the Heller School where I was mentored in research practices and studied the relationship between opioid use and traumatic brain injury (TBI). While conducting a literature review, I encountered fascinating articles written by Dr. Eve Valera at The Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. The Valera Lab’s impactful work resonated with me as I have a pre-conceived notion that the field of academic and clinical research is driven by producing papers and garnering recognition, however this lab goes out of their way to ensure that their work directly helps the population that they are researching. After discovering that the lab is located nearby in Charlestown, MA, I reached out to Dr. Valera in hopes to join her lab’s very important work. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the position of a research intern for summer 2020 and gratefully accepted this amazing opportunity.

The Valera Lab, affiliated with the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, studies TBIs caused by intimate partner violence. This lab utilizes MRIs, blood tests, and other biological indicators as primary data. However, in light of COVID, the lab has switched its typical activities to an online interview protocol, and I assist in conducting interviews with women who have sustained TBIs as a result of IPV. These interviews consist of surveys regarding alcohol and drug use, traumatic brain injury, relationship history, and intimate partner violence. Furthermore, I also administer computerized neurocognitive examinations and balance testing. My work conducting interviews will allow for greater understanding of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral manifestations of IPV in women.

I work with the P.I., Dr. Eve Valera, the clinical research coordinator, and two other student interns, one of which joined at the same time as me. Everyone in the lab feels so passionately about the study of traumatic brain injuries caused by intimate partner violence. There is a diverse pool of knowledge and experience in the field between the five of us. As of now, we have spent a great deal of time practicing the administration of study screener interviews and running the protocol of the study. I do all of my practicing and training with the other new intern, Sarah. It has been lovely to train alongside someone else my age who is also excited about what we are studying. Although I am very sad that I do not get to spend time with my lab, especially my co-intern Sarah, I feel grateful that we are still able to form connections and share this experience. Here is a photo of a Zoom meeting with Sarah, myself, and the clinical research coordinator, Annie!

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with my co-intern Sarah, the clinical research coordinator, Annie, and myself.

Coming into this internship I had two primary goals. First, to learn more about the neurobiological manifestations of traumatic brain injury. Second, I hope to learn how to work in a collaborative environment with other researchers, as in my prior research internship I was the only person working under my research mentor.

I am so excited to continue this awesome work and to see what I accomplish this summer. I would like to thank Brandeis University’s World of Work fellowship for allowing me to do this work.

– Maddy Pliskin

Post 1: My Internship at Ecomingling

Eco:Mingling, the non-profit start-up organization I am interning for this summer, is a Sustainability Accelerator. This means that the organization both creates and cultivates environmentally-focused coalitions. These coalitions are formed by uniting environmentally-driven businesses, organizations, grass-roots movements, educational facilities, municipalities, and academics by focusing them all on one collective sustainable initiative. By uniting stakeholders from different backgrounds, Ecomingling is able to create the right conditions for sustainable change. Located in Tel Aviv, Israel, but rapidly expanding to the rest of the country, Ecomingling encourages connection and interactivity in a way that makes Israel’s sustainability sector much greater than the sum of its parts. Click here to visit the Ecomingling website!

Ecomingling’s current project is the creation and maintenance of Israel’s first and only anti-plastic coalition, called the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition (IPPPC). Because Ecomingling is a start-up and the establishment of this coalition is Ecomingling’s first major project, there is endless work that needs to be done. My principal responsibility has been creating and upholding all social media for both Ecomingling and the coalition itself. Click here to visit the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition website!

My largest project thus far has been creating and working on two separate Facebook pages: one for Ecomingling and the other for the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition. One aspect of this task is organizing the layouts of each page. This aspect of the job includes, but is not limited to, the creation and publication of cover photos and profile pictures, choosing which tabs to display and filling in the relevant information, drafting and posting the “About” sections, linking “Call to Action” buttons on each pages’ home screens, and much more. 

Another responsibility of managing the social media campaigns for both Ecomingling and the coalition is researching, drafting, and posting all content that is published on both pages. One aspect of this job is choosing the correct graphic to include in each post. Here are some images that I have included in the posts/ have helped to create:

I have created many Excel Spreadsheets to organize the schedules and information regarding both pages. For instance, I have a spreadsheet schedule for each Facebook page that includes the date, time, text (in Hebrew and in English), and hashtags for every post. I have another schedule spreadsheet that contains all the research I have compiled of various Facebook groups and pages that Ecomingling or the IPPPC can post in to promote their page visibilities. I have another spreadsheet that contains a list of all of the coalition member organizations, along with the contact information (name, email address, and phone number) for each of their social media coordinators. I use other spreadsheets to track when coalition members post on behalf of the coalition and to schedule the coalition’s “Spotlight” posts, in which we highlight the particularly unique or beneficial work being done by a coalition member. Overall, this job includes a lot of planning ahead and endless communication with various individuals involved with either Ecomingling or the IPPPC.

I know that my work on establishing, sustaining and enhancing the social media presence of both Ecomingling and the IPPPC will significantly impact both groups in a positive way. We live in a time where businesses must use social media to build their reputation, remain accessible to their clients, and showcase everything they have to offer. 

One of my goals this summer is to hone my written communication skills. Operating two social media campaigns has forced me to challenge my typical writing habits and thus enhance my writing skills in a new way. Another goal I have is to learn more about environmental start-up organizations. I have already witnessed and learned so much about the various aspects and challenges of running a start-up organization and I look forward to learning even more. I am also particularly interested in the environmental aspect of this organization, and I hope to learn more about what it means to be a true environmentalist throughout the course of this internship. 

Post 1: First few weeks

I have been working at Ms. (Ms. Magazine) for three weeks now, and I’ve been really enjoying the opportunities the internship has presented thus far. Ms. is based in Los Angeles, but of course, my internship is remote. It’s been interesting to work on the East Coast but with an organization in Pacific time; I’ve had to learn how to restructure my day to make sure that I am online during relevant hours. While doing that, I am still trying to maintain home life with my family and non-work activities. 

Ms. is a national publication founded by Gloria Steinem in 1972. In 2001, ownership of the publication was transferred to the Feminist Majority Foundation. The Ms. Classroom program makes Ms. a prominent resource on college campuses, and the online and print magazine strives to provide in-depth reporting on feminist issues and information. 

My work consists primarily of writing and editing for the online publication. Since starting the internship, two articles of mine have been published. The first was titled “100 Years of Women Voting Means Defending the Right to Vote for All.” In the course of writing and researching for it, I was able to explore both historical and current issues, and my academics in American studies and journalism really helped me in writing and researching the piece. My second piece was the first issue of a bi-weekly column I’m co-writing with another intern. The column is called “Tools of the Patriarchy,” and the first issue was on naming (how women traditionally take their husband’s last names after marriage). Co-writing has been a great experience so far and writing this column has allowed me to do some in-depth research on patriarchal systems/tools while learning about cooperative teamwork in a really hands-on way. 

In addition to writing my own pieces (and co-writing pieces), a large part of my responsibilities involve editing pieces for the online publication. I really enjoying editing tasks; as editing others’ work helps me improve my own writing skills. It’s also helpful to act as a contributor to the larger team effort of putting a publication together. As the internship progresses, my work will also involve fact-checking for the print magazine, working on Ms. social media, learning more about journalism in general and gaining professional skills to that end. 

My academic goal for the internship is to gain hands-on experience in American journalism to apply to my studies as an American studies major and a journalism minor. My career goal for the internship is to gain experience in a professional journalistic environment, something I already feel that I am experiencing only a few weeks in.

Even remote, the internship is a serious endeavor (in the best way possible). I have been able to imagine what a full-time career in journalism would look like and it makes me excited to pursue a career in this field. Finally, my personal goal for this internship is to improve my own journalistic and non-fiction writing and to gain experience writing with an activist lens. Already, I am making great strides towards this goal with the editing work I am doing and the feedback I have received. I’m also learning so much about feminism and how to appropriately incorporate that into my writing. 

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.

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.