Lessons Learnt | #2

Like most interns I’d imagine, I wanted to do my absolute best. Even more than that, I wanted to prove that I needed minimal supervision, so was determined to figure everything out by myself. Looking back on my first week when I was assigned to write a white paper on two particularly obscure incidents of Russian hacking in Ukrainian and Georgian elections, it turns out that mentality made me stand out in all the wrong ways. It led to more miscommunication and misalignment of expectations than was necessary. Needless to say, while I would encourage anybody going into their internship to be ambitious, it’s more than okay to speak up and ask for help with what you may not know fully.

Alongside the writing of the report, I was tasked with collecting a lot of public election data for analysis. There were some 8800 observations I needed, and each observation required twelve variables. Obviously, with data collection of this size, it’s in your best interest to automate the process with some sort of web-scraper. I hadn’t made one since high school, so I was thoroughly out of practice. I was asked how long it would take be to complete the database, and I gave an unrealistic time thinking I wouldn’t have to essentially relearn how to build a web scraper. As you can imagine, I didn’t get it done when I said I would.

Afterwards, I made it a point to make sure such situations didn’t happen again. In a professional context, I’m naturally pretty reserved and find myself only speaking when spoken to. I learned pretty quickly, with the help of the email reminders sent out by LSA Opportunity Hub, that while it’s good to be composed, you should not make the mistake of not initiating conversation about getting feedback on your performance and giving updates on the projects you’re working on.

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