Research is like the moon, it has many phases and some are more impressive than others. I think most people who get into research are imagining how they will feel when engaged in the most dramatic and stimulating parts of the study. The reality is that those moments are the rare peak moments and what is more commonly experienced in the day to day of conducting research can be banal but is absolutely necessary. Big impressive research findings could not be made without meticulous record keeping, data collection and other administrative support services.
I understood the reality of research on the day to day level before I was hired to be a research intern so there haven’t been any surprises for me concerning my expectations. I’m happy to provide data support for the study I’m working on and I get exposed to a great deal of information I can learn from everyday. The key word here is can. I can learn or I can let the opportunity slip by with my inattention. I’m as human as anyone else, sometimes I’m rocking it and sometimes not so much.
The learning opportunities that present themselves outside the classroom and on the fly during an internship are different than I get inside of one. Information isn’t always presented in an obvious way that ties back to what I learned in Psych 101. It’s up to me to meld the actual experience together with my academic one. How do I keep my brain fresh, happy, healthy and engaged?
Curiosity is a key state for me. I learn so much when bring myself back to this feeling multiple times a day and remember to ask myself questions. How does what I’m seeing in my internship fit what I have learned in class or in my life? How is it similar? How is it different? What else does it make me think of and why? How else could this data be applied?
Staying fresh is for me, a state of on going curiosity more than anything else. I’m an older student so I have some experience but that doesn’t mean I know all there is to know, quite the opposite. I agree with those who say; “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” Even when it comes to what I have already learned, there are nuances and subtleties of knowledge that can always be deepened.