My name is Kristen Cross and I am a rising junior at the University of Michigan majoring in psychology. Near the end of this past academic year, I was scrambling to find an internship that I was eligible for, and that also related to my interests (psychology and research). I only found two that really caught my attention – this internship in the Infant Cognition Center at Yale and another one through my university. When the other program denied me, I was definitely disappointed and feeling discouraged. This was especially my case because I truly doubted my chances of snagging an internship with a school as prestigious as this one. However, the odds were definitely in my favor – and I am here today!
What really drew me to this internship was of course because of the university it is attached to, but also the fact that the research that their labs had published in the past really seemed to speak to my personal and academic interests. From there I reached out to about submitting an application, and from that point forward the lab manager, Clarise Ballesteros, made me feel very welcomed, and as if she was genuinely excited that I had an interest in these labs. This then drew me in even more and made me even more hopeful that they would choose me, since the first impression that Clarise gave me was that it was a very pleasant and welcoming work environment.
So, fast forward to today and I have just finished my second day of training with the different lab managers, researchers, and my other colleagues. To be honest, I was very nervous to start. I had to travel 11 hours (by car) to arrive here from my comfort zone that is Michigan, and all by myself at that. As my first day came closer and closer I became more and more frightful that maybe I was out of my depth and that I wouldn’t fit in, or I wouldn’t be able to keep up, or that everyone else there would also be from Ivy League universities like Harvard and so on. To combat this, I spent my walk to the lab rehashing conversations I had with my own research mentors at UM and all of the reassurance they had given my over the past year and I told myself that I can do this, and that I am intelligent enough to be here.
After my little pep talk, I arrived at my destination and was immediately greeted by the other interns with smiling faces and eagerly waving hands. My fears and insecurities started to move to the back of my mind, and suddenly I was only focused on learning everyone’s names and where they’re from. Clarise even went as far as to take us out for breakfast (courtesy of the lab) to get acquainted with everyone and to start this journey on a good note, which was completely successful. This outing really made me feel that we were more of a team than just merely peers all trying to network and get ahead of one another.
From then on we got more into the nitty gritty of the work we’ll be doing. Consent forms, protocol, coding, presenting, databases, you name it. While at times it has felt a bit overwhelming, the general friendly and helpful nature of everyone who works there makes everything much easier. They realize that we’re real people trying to learn all of this for the first time, and are always happy to clear up any confusion we may have, which definitely makes everything much easier.
While I’ve only been “working” for two days now, I still have three more days of training and one recruiting event before I can really get into the lab and start working more directly with the researcher that I’ll be assigned to and running participants. For now, things seem to be going pretty smoothly, and I am nothing short of thrilled to see where else this great opportunity takes me!