My anthem in life continues to be consistent in multiple situations: It sounds a lot worse than it actually is. The description of this internship was daunting– 40 hours a week in a lab, working on new experiments while attending lectures and meetings. I thought it was going to FEEL like a job the entire time; I thought I wasn’t going to completely enjoy my summer. This description alone made me throw away the idea of exploring my favorite city and really using my summer to relax and reflect. When I got here, the description was exactly what we did, but somehow in person, it was completely different. It was enjoyable! That reality is something that I continue to encounter in numerous situations, and has been the reason I have started reaching out of my comfort zone. Starting out in this internship, I do wish I believed in my motto a little more. If I had, I would have more confidently entered this program and maybe would have reached higher heights faster. Also, I wish I knew how available for help my mentor was. Initially, I had this idea that she was too busy to help me with questions or mistakes that I made. But now that we’re approaching the end of the internship, I realize that my mentor would stop whatever she was doing in order to make sure I was doing alright! I am learning that asking questions is okay! It’s okay to confirm or clarify directions. It is better to do the task right the first time in order to save time!
I would give two pieces of advice for future interns in my field. Mistakes are embarrassing, annoying, and stressful but they are necessary in order to become a pro at the job. In fact, when a mistake is made, I’ve learned that the correct behavior is better remembered and better performed. Mistakes are important and who knows, the mistake may end up being what was needed. Many successful products and realizations came from mistakes, like Corn Flakes or penicillin, so don’t be afraid to mess up! And don’t worry about what others think about you, you are still learning! My second piece of advice is that most mistakes in science can be fixed.
My favorite experience as an intern this summer has been gaining independence in my lab. I came in feeling unsure but as time went on, I became so confident in the set up and knowledge of the lab that I was helping my mentor with some of her projects. With this confidence came the improved results in my experiments. I am working on transforming non-cancerous cells into cancer stem cells with the use of exosomes. I started out isolating exosomes from supernatant fluid but initially the process wasn’t working for me. But as I refined my steps, I started receiving tremendously better results. This summer, I’ve gained so much confidence in my science and lab ability!