Reflection – Then and Now #5

I’m nearing the end of my internship and I feel like a lot has changed since the beginning. I went through a large range of emotions from the first few weeks to now. I remember being very excited and incredibly nervous and stressed in the beginning. The very beginning, the first few days, were filled with excitement. I was inundated with the new and fascinating environment, from the company campus and facilities to the high tech equipment and labs. Additionally, I was meeting new people and everyone was incredibly nice and friendly. The first few days consisted of settling in and getting to know the company and environment.

But once I started working in lab, I got to be unnecessarily stressed. I didn’t expect the beginning to be so difficult because I have had research experience and I am very comfortable working on my own in lab. But part of the reason why the beginning was so stressful was because I could not be as independent as I wanted to. I had to rely on my mentors to ask for where things were, how to use some equipment and overall, had to rely on them far more than I would have liked. Of course, this is expected in the beginning, working in a new environment and on a completely new project. However, I did feel like I was bothering them sometimes, especially because they were so busy and sometimes difficult to find. This was another source of stress. I had to wait on my mentors to do some tasks or go over results and agree on the next steps. I felt like I couldn’t move forward and be productive like I wanted to. Additionally, I had two mentors, which I was not used to. I didn’t think this would be a source of stress. In fact, I was quite excited to have two mentors because my two mentors are in different fields, but I am really interested in both fields so I was grateful to have to experience and exposure to both. But I found that working directly with two mentors and juggling the tasks to be a bit overwhelming at times. There would be times where I felt like I couldn’t set my own schedule and do my own tasks at my own pace because I would be doing one thing with mentor while also doing something else with my other mentors so I felt like I was running back and forth. Additionally, I found that I had to very quickly improve my communication with both mentors.

But as time passed and I found my footing in lab, it got much much better. I was able to work independently in my own space and on my own time, which I prefer. But this experience definitely taught me to be even more independent than I was before. I was able to plan my own experiments, analyze my own data, and troubleshoot my own problems, which I had done before but this summer, I learned to do those things without any guidance from my mentors. We found a rhythm in which I worked and updated my mentors with my findings and we would talk about anything exciting, unexpected or interesting. I really appreciated this summer because the skills that I utilized and improved are very important for grad school and my future in research in general.

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