I’ve been home for a few days and I wanted to reflect on my internship and its impact. In short, I loved it. Towards the end, I didn’t want to leave because of all the progress I’ve made and all the work there was still left to do. My internship is in a research lab and I had been working in this lab during the past school year as well. My experience during the school year contrasts my experience from the summer. This was slightly unexpected to me. I thought that the only difference would be the time. During the school year, I’m juggling classes, work and friends so my time in lab is limited. But during the summer, all of my time was devoted to lab work. I found that although I was working more, there were other differences as well.
One difference was related to the increased hours. During the summer, I took on a new independent project, which I enjoyed greatly. I enjoyed the stuff I was doing during the school year but it was exciting to have a new focus. Additionally, this project had more structure and I was working from scratch, since this was a new project. I found that the project was very rewarding because of this and it was exciting to see clear results and new questions arise. I feel as if I’ve really progressed from just being an undergraduate to being a real contribution and member of the lab. I also really enjoyed the project itself; I think it’s really interesting and I was genuinely excited each day to go into lab and start figuring out answers.
Another difference I experienced this summer was with my relationship with the people in lab. I didn’t expect a large shift in relationship and mindset, but I found that I got much closer and comfortable with the people in my lab. I naturally can be closed off or I find it difficult to open up to people right away. Additionally, because this was a professional work environment where I am an undergraduate, I found it even harder to truly open up. I believe that it being the school year also had an effect on this because I am under more stress and there’s so much on my mind, it’s difficult to open up and be comfortable. But this summer, I’m so happy I got out of my shell and got close with my lab members. It wasn’t even just my mentor but I got closer to the other graduate students, post doctoral fellows, and the PI as well! It has made working in lab even better and relieved a lot of my anxieties. Additionally, I hope that this has taught me how to let go and be comfortable in work environments.
This summer, more that anything I’ve learned so much, more than I could imagine, and I’m so appreciative for that. But something just as surprising and rewarding are the new bonds I’ve made with my lab members. I feel like I’ve made so much personal growth as well by coming out of my shell. I look forward to the school year so I can continue my work and I hope that I can still balance my time well and be productive. This summer internship has truly been exceptional and I am extremely grateful to all the people, programs, organizations and funding that allowed me this opportunity.