Looking back, the thing I’ll remember most about my internship is how much I learned. Maybe it was naive of me to expect to contribute to a research company like MTRI. I said, on a letter I wrote to MTRI before getting the job, that I’d like to help them out just as much as they would help me out. I can say now that, although I did assist in some tasks, I learned a lot more from MTRI than MTRI learned from me. There were many academic learning experiences–using a new operating system (Linux); using a command line interface, which I’ve realized is much better suited for anything in the sciences/research than a GUI; improving my programming; encountering countless new mathematics with cool names like singular value decomposition, robust principal component analysis, Horner’s method, Newton’s iteration. But there were also many practical learning experiences–working in an office for the first time, working cooperatively with others, brewing coffee. There were also many things I learned about myself, my working habits, and what I need to improve on. (Brewing coffee.)
Looking back, seeing all the things I didn’t know and seeing how intelligent everyone at MTRI is, I’ve confirmed my desire to go to graduate school. The biggest motivator is still, and will always be, the fact that I enjoy learning. But, after this internship and working closely with Matthew (see my 3rd blog), I’ve developed a personal challenge to know at least half as much as Matthew knows. There still has yet to be a day where I understood everything he said to me, but I have a few weeks left here and am still hopeful, though skeptically so.
Looking forward, I am currently studying for the GRE and plan on taking the general test at the end of August. A subject test for mathematics is also required, and I plan on taking that in September. Studying for both and working full time is extraordinarily pleasurable and I recommend that everyone does it at least once in their lifetime–preferably more. Before I apply for graduate school, I still need to graduate from undergraduate school. Plans for my major, classes, etc., have not changed much, if at all, from my internship. I may take a class that someone here recommended or a class that covers something I would have found useful for my internship, if I can manage to squeeze it in. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’ve confirmed I actually enjoy doing what I’m studying. I don’t have to worry about making a last minute change from a math and physics major to an art history major or something of the sort. But you never know. Art history is pretty cool.