- When you finish your internship, take a moment to reflect on the impact of the experience.
My time with the Big Data Summer Institute (BDSI) was ephemeral, but the experience will be forever lasting. The wonderful thing about my time with UM Public Health is that I was able to apply what I learned in the six weeks of the program to what I do in my current research lab.
A little bit of background: At the University of Michigan, I am an undergraduate student studying statistics and an undergraduate research assistant at a statistical and behavioral sciences research lab. The research field of focus is mobile health, which is the practice of medicine and public health using mobile devices such as a cell phone or Fitbit etc. As an undergraduate, I assist in research but my overall impact to the lab is limited obviously due to the lack of statistical knowledge that I have in comparison to the PhD students and professors. Currently for the rest of the summer, I am in charge of data management, data processing, and website development for the lab.
For all three of those responsibilities, I was able to apply a lot of things I learned from the Big Data Summer Institute. For example, in terms of data management, I was able to critically think about how to efficiently store the data and process in a way to limit “data messiness”. I was conscious of this because I worked with an incredibly messy data set at BDSI and learned the ins and outs of how to clean data. For the website development, instead of sitting down and coding up HTML for an interminable time, I was able to easily apply the new techniques I learned about R (a statistical computing software) to create a website in just a matter of hours.
These are just pragmatic examples of how I was able to apply the skills I gained from BDSI to my current research lab. From a more intellectual perspective, the BDSI experience also shaped my thoughts about statistics in a more health informed way. Before, I was never really into reading research papers or news articles on medicine, but now I find myself casually reading about statistics and medicine all the while actually enjoying the content. This was, in my opinion, a remarkable development. I was never an avid reader, I’m the type of guy that used to wait for the movies instead of reading the books. Now, I pursue research papers about big data, health informatics and medicine.
All in all, my experience with BDSI was phenomenal. I met incredible faculty members and researchers from several disciplines such as statistics, biostatistics, computer science and engineering. Some of these people are famous in academia. Just talking with and being around these people really cemented what I want to pursue later in life. If I could one day become a part of something as amazing as the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I’d consider all the time and effort I put into school worth it.
**If you have been keeping up with my blogs, I just want to thank you for reading them. If you are a student looking into something like BDSI, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I would love to e-chat about BDSI even more.