I have just finished my first week and a half in Sydney interning as a research assistant in an Eating Disorders Lab at the University of Sydney. After battling the many hours of travel and jet lag, it’s safe to say that I am finally getting into a routine. I have worked out the public transportation system and have met with 2/3 of my supervisors here. Last week, I met with a PhD student who I will be assisting over the course of my internship. I will be working on what is called a Systematic Review, similar to a literature review in the sense that I will be analyzing many research articles exploring the effects of a specific treatment for eating disorders called Intensive Family and Adolescent Eating Disorder Day Program. While this most definitely surpasses the level of research I have conducted at Michigan, I am excited for the challenge and feel confident in my abilities to adapt to what is asked of me. I am looking forward to this opportunity as it will give me a better idea of my own research interests as well as strengthen my understanding of the job of a Clinical Psychology PhD student, allowing me to assess whether or not this will be the right path for me when I graduate next year. For now, I have been given many research articles to read to orient myself with this topic in further detail and the real work will begin this week!
I feel lucky because from what I have experience thus far, my work environment is very relaxed. While in a setting like this, where there are Masters and PhD students and supervisors, it seems like there would be a hierarchy between the students and their supervisors, there is not. The setting is more collaborative and less competitive. It seems as though everyone is genuinely interested in helping others and learning about different projects. The supervisors are close with their students and have established a professional yet causal relationship with them and while it would seem appropriate that the university would feel like a place with high stress, the Clinical Psychology Unit is the opposite. I think this environment is rather unique but one I am excited to be part of!
It has been interesting observing the demographics in my research lab. There are many more female students than male students, though there are more male supervisors than feel supervisors. In terms of interaction, it seems that everyone works together and there is no divide based on demographics, however there are definitely certain groups of people who are closer because of their year in school and their field of interest. There is not very much diversity in my lab, mostly Caucasian, heterosexual females. I think that psychology is thought of to be a more female dominated field because of gender roles in society and gender stereotypes.
While it has definitely been an exciting first week, I do feel a bit overwhelmed! I know this experience will bring many incredible opportunities but I need to keep in mind the challenges that lay ahead as well…and that most importantly that I am here to learn and asking questions is OK! I’m not supposed to know everything yet, right? After all, then I wouldn’t be an intern! I am really looking forward to kicking off my second week here.
Here is a photo of the Sydney Harbor Bridge lit up for a light show called Vivid that attracts many locals and tourists and is run by the city each year!