Last week was a defining week for me during my internship because I was able to start piecing together the work I’ve been doing and understand how a research project comes together. My mentor Dr. Margaret Du and I built our project from scratch: We performed initial research, refined our question of interest with the help of another investigator, and then I started to work and see the project come alive. These past few weeks I’ve learned how to use SAS, a statistical programming language and run statistical analyses such as logistic regression for our project. While I have a basic understanding of statistics, this project has helped me deepen my understanding of statistics and see it applied in a real-life way for implications in epidemiological research.
More importantly, from working on this project, I’ve been able to better understand leadership and teamwork, two qualities that are integral for scientific research. In a way, I’ve realized that leadership and teamwork both take on many forms. I take on a leadership role in this project when it comes to running analyses, working through the SAS code to ensure that we are working with the right variables and understanding our population. Dr. Du takes on a leadership role when it comes to making executive decisions, overseeing my work, and ensuring that we are making decisions during analysis that are statistically justified. Teamwork is also essential to this entire process of research because Dr. Du and I also work with a biostatistician who helps us ensure that the analyses we are running in SAS are being done correctly. Even in this situation, the biostatistican is taking on a leadership role by knowing how to properly run regression models and the correct way to code them in SAS.
Another quality of being a leader is being knowledgeable about their project and being able to convey that to another audience. As part of my internship, I needed to give a final presentation about my research project. Thus, I took on another leadership role here by having to find the most effective way to communicate our study and its findings to a new audience. This in itself was a challenge but I believe I have been successful in delivering this presentation. By understanding the ways teamwork and leadership overlap when working in any industry, I have a better understanding of the type of job role I want and the different levels of leadership and teamwork I will need to have in order to be successful – something I can apply in my future career.