Location

Finding a big enough venue for Believe. Achieve. Succeed was a very difficult obstacle that we had to hurdle. After many rooms failed to work out, we were able to get the Chemistry building booked! Here are some pictures of us doing a walk through!

Blog Post #5 | Looking Forward

Having completed my internship and had some time to think over all of my experiences I know that my time at the International Rescue Committee has greatly influenced my career goals and prepared me for a field that I could likely end up in. Although working in Refugee Resettlement is not expressly considered social work in a lot of ways it resembles the field. One aspect of the internship I was not prepared for was feeling emotionally drained. Seeing up to three clients a day was great because I got to meet and learn about new people and a commonly misunderstood population, but the meetings were not without their hard conversations and problems.

Throughout my time at the IRC I was able to see at least five of the clients I worked with achieve employment, but the jobs they were got were not ones that I was particularly happy to see them being funneled into. Most clients would apply to be housekeepers, work in restaurants, or seek other entry level jobs. Although clients would be enthused most of the time they got employment, it was bittersweet knowing the ladder they would have to climb to obtain higher caliber positions. Other clients had a much more realistic picture of the job market after searching for employment. Many expressed frustration and remorse having been given a overly optimistic view of the American job market in the country they left. For many arriving in the U.S. was a rude awakening and some stated they were better off where they came from.

Even though I only worked in the office for three months I still felt emotionally drained and discouraged leaving the office throughout my time. Although that is the “nature” of the work, I found myself doubting the prospect of continuing work in the field of social work or non-profits because of the sheer heaviness of the work that is done. Now, having had the chance to reflect on my internship I don’t feel as disheartened. My internship provided me with one of the most meaningful experiences in my life thus far, but additionally reminded me that society is flawed and problems can’t be fixed overnight. Though I now see Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. as a flawed process, it is better to reflect on these issues and deal with the emotional aspects than cut yourself off. These heavy subjects demand attention and hopefully that attention can lead to concrete improvements in the system.

Goodbye Japan | Blog #5

I’m back!

Before I delve into what I spent the final week of my internship doing, I wanted to give a brief summary of the KOTO experiment. If you don’t recall, the KOTO experiment is an international endeavor to measure the rare K-Long -> Pi-zero Nu Nubar particle decay in order to compare experimental measurements with the predictions given by our current understanding of particle physics. A couple times a year, the different groups from around the world meet in person to discuss important developments concerning the project at a three-day event called the Collaboration Meeting. I attended this meeting in order to give a presentation that detailed the upgrades currently happening to the project’s data acquisition system (DAQ). While the development of the DAQ primarily occurs at the University of Michigan (where my internship was located), the actual data taking is done in Japan at the J-PARC facility. As such, the Collaboration Meeting was held in Japan and I received a wonderful opportunity to travel outside the country!

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Welcome to Japan

 

After a long 12-hour flight and a 3-hour bus ride, I finally arrived at my destination, the small village of Tokai-mura. My first impressions? Japan is not America. Painfully simplistic, I’m aware, but there were just so many differences that it’s hard to concisely and accurately describe the variations between the two. The architecture of the houses and the way the roads zigzagged across the land,  the day-to-day interactions with people, and of course the local cuisine were all very different from America (Tokai in particular is by an ocean, so a lot of my meals consisted of fresh fish).

Compared to other places I’ve been, Tokai has an interesting quality to it. Dotted with crop fields and containing various parks and temples, the town feels bustling with nature – which at times can make it easy to forget that it also contains a half mile long particle beam. While it’s standard practice to build facilities that produce radioactive materials far away from highly populated areas, I couldn’t help but think of the weird duality this creates. On one side, Tokai represents some of mankind’s greatest technological and scientific advancements, along with our growing ability to probe the nature of the universe; on the other hand – a few blocks away from J-PARC you might be biking through a rice paddy at sunrise next to a soaring swan (at least it looked like a swan).

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One of the various temples in Tokai

 

Of course, the purpose of my visit wasn’t to see Tokai-mura but to learn more about the KOTO experiment. As such, part of my trip was spent seeing the facility that houses the particle beam. When I entered the building, the first sight that greeted me was a giant chasm filled with all manner of construction equipment and electronic doodads. Maybe I’ve seen one too many James Bond movies but my initial impression was that the facility looked more like a typical villain’s lair than expected.

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Anyone else thinks it looks lair?

 

Seeing the main-barrel didn’t help with my initial impressions either. The main-barrel is a big, blue vacuum-sealed chamber where the K-Long -> Pi-zero Nu Nubar decay occurs. To give a sense of its scale, it has a diameter of about feet 10 and is roughly 20 feet long, so big in fact that I couldn’t get a proper full-body picture of it.

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The Main Barrel

 

The next day, the Collaboration Meeting began. At first I was a little nervous to give my presentation; the entire audience was not only more educated than me but also had more experience with KOTO. Fortunately, my presentation was scheduled for the second day of the conference, giving me time to examine and learn from others. After internalizing my mentor’s famous words, “Remember – you’re the expert,” I was able to shake my initial nervousness and get into the swing things (even managing to a have a few of my jokes land).

 

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That’s me, way in the back

 

For my final day in Japan, I woke up early in order to bike around Tokai. The morning was quiet and the air nice and crisp, a perfect time to gather my thoughts about the past few months with the KOTO project. Because of this internship – I learned how to code, I learned useful organizational skills, and I learned how to effectively work on a team. Skills that will prove useful as I continue studying physics.

I send my thanks to Myron Campbell, for accepting me onto the team (despite my limited experience in coding) and being my mentor this internship. I thank my various KOTO co-workers for being a pleasure to work with. I thank the LSA Internship Program for allowing me to share my experiences with all of you.

 

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And thank you for reading this blog!

 

Joshua R.

 

Bye California, Hello Ann Arbor! #5

As my internship came to an end I sat at my desk homesick and ready to leave California and never come back! Of course that’s a stretch because I’d love to go back just not at all in the month of September or October, maybe when Michigan weather starts to get really cold. If you would’ve told me when I boarded that plane for Los Angeles I would’ve learned more about myself than anything else this summer I wouldn’t believe you. Internships are about gaining experience in the professional world, how exactly will I learn the most about myself. As a 19 year old woman I thought I knew myself but moving to the other side of the country alone for a couple months taught me more about myself than the last couple years of my life.

I spent time in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Tahoe and The Bay Area. I made it a point to see different things and learn all that I could about the marketing field. I have gained so many connections with executives to human resource departments and other interns.  Working directly with the CEO of the company and working with a professional basketball team I gained knowledge about many different fields. I learned that I enjoy going to sleep early, working out became fun, I learned it was possible to cook breakfast lunch and dinner for myself daily and that I may not be the most disciplined young woman but when I put my mind to something nothing can stop me. I learned living in California is expensive and grocery bags AREN’T FREE. Most importantly I learned what I want to do in life is attainable and no matter what people say my dreams are not too big to become my reality. I enjoyed my internship and grew to love my field and received an offer to return next summer for a higher position. Getting my foot in the door was my goal but I may have found my own. Being the youngest person by 5 years in every professional setting this summer I realized that Michigan has put me in a position to be ahead of the game. I feel like I’m on track to do great things and this summer showed me that.

I can’t wait to see what this school year has in store for me and what next summer’s internship will show me! I couldn’t be more grateful to those who helped make this experience real for me. Bye California, Hello Ann Arbor!

The Last Reflection, Blog Post #5

Just this week, I finally wrapped up my summer internship at the Biomedical Research Center here at Michigan. To say the least, it was one of the most influential experiences of my life, in that it gave me the deepest look at the world of biomedical research. To think that earlier this past year, I had no idea what it meant to “genotype,” or what goes into immunofluorescence staining just goes to show how much an internship can open your eyes.

I am most grateful to my P.I. and the graduate students in the lab who everyday taught me something new about the techniques and biological concepts involved in outlining and then conducting certain experiments. The way my P.I., who also works as a graduate school professor of cell and developmental biology here at the University, would stay after hours to clear up any confusing concepts for me or teach me how to dissect mouse olfactory epithelium (for fun, even!), really showed me how generous this lab was. And for that I am truly so thankful. The whole experience, actually, went further than just increasing my passion for biomedical research—it made me realize that ultimately I would love to be able to teach the fundamental concepts of genetics and biochemistry to dedicated students one day.

My weekly sit-ins on practice prelims of the graduate students, thesis defenses, and lab meetings gave me a chance to see what the journey will be like to one day get to the place that the graduate students are in now. But I really am excited about it all! This school year, I will be continuing my research of the Hedgehog pathway of the mouse olfactory epithelium in the lab I am currently in. Furthermore, I may go on to take on a new project that is somehow related to neurogenesis. Through it all, it will be the literal techniques and fundamental concepts I have learned throughout this summer that will help guide me. And it is the generosity of the P.I. and graduate students that I have worked with that has without a doubt inspired me to believe in how far I can go as long as I am never afraid to ask questions, collaborate, and think beyond.

Impact | Blog Post #5

I’ve been asked by many people during the first couple weeks back in Ann Arbor about my experience this summer and I feel I should take a moment to put into words the impact that this summer has had on me. Overall, my internship at the Library of Congress was unbelievable. I truly enjoyed every moment I spent on the clock this summer and the lessons learned will serve me well in the future. I can confidently say that I developed my research skills to their full capacity at this point in my academic career. My projects opened my eyes up to how much content is available in the world of academia that I didn’t even know existed. Universities and government bodies spend tons of money on building databases and retrieving materials for research that students our age never utilize. We are quick to just google answers and if we do not come up with an immediate result, we just move on and find something that’s easier to access. My internship taught me that spending the time to use databases for research other than Google can enhance your work tremendously. Aside from the educational skills my experience taught me, I feel that I learned how to function in a classic office setting. We had everything from conference room meetings to water cooler chats. I feel confident in my office etiquette moving into next summer. Needless to say, my time at the Library of Congress definitely had a positive impact on me.

post-summer | #5

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Goodbye cards a fellow intern & I made on the last day

Through both the work I have been doing and the discussions I have had with mentors and peers, my summer has given me lots of things to think about as I continue to move forward in life and make plans for the future.

In the middle of Winter semester, I struggled in deciding whether to push forward with my EECS minor or not. I felt somewhat ambivalent about aspects of my EECS classes. While I put a lot of effort into them, I didn’t always feel energized by the class. I eventually came to the conclusion that I’d stick with it for now, and see if my internship in the technology department of the DNC would change my mind – perhaps I would find it more meaningful to work on coding projects that I was more personally invested in. I also tentatively wanted to write a thesis in political science.

A couple months later, I find myself feeling more secure about both of those decisions. While it wasn’t until later in the summer that I was able to take on some projects that I was excited by, I can definitely see myself working in data analytics/data science in the future – perhaps in a more policy-oriented position. I believe both the EECS minor and the thesis writing process will help me build useful skills toward that end, and I am also looking to improve my stats and machine learning skills. I also loved my experience living in D.C., and can totally envision myself there – perhaps next year.

Wrap Up | #5

This summer internship experience has been one I will never forget. I was living in a new city that became like home. I met friends who became family. I was guided by mentors who changed my life. And most importantly, I grew to love/believe in myself and the importance of public service.

Before DC, I had never really gotten out of my comfort bubble. I stuck with the same people from the same organizations, I thought I had to know my exact career plan, and I never tried new things that scared me. However, this summer changed all of that!

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I’m so grateful to LSA, CAPAL, and the USDA for allowing me to meet such incredible people, visit such memorable places, and learn so much about our country, its people and the ways I can contribute to the world. Without the help of all three of these organizations, I would have not been able to live in one of my favorite cities and get a full experience that included educational and social components.

Going into this, I never thought that I would fall in love with the city, the work I did and the people I met. However, I always tell everyone that it was so hard coming back home from DC. Yes, I had so much fun and that had a lot to do with it. More importantly, though, I learned so much. I don’t think I’ve ever been given the chance to have so many opportunities for hands on experience, networking and educational events.

My boss and supervisors entrusted me with tasks that were actually important and applicable to the skills I need in life/my career. I’m so glad that I was placed in an office where they knew I liked to keep busy. They made sure I was doing valuable work and helped make my experience in a new setting so amazing!

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CAPAL provided me with so many contacts, educational opportunities, social events and so much more. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect with other Asian Americans around the world. I never knew much about Asian American issues until this past summer, and it has definitely made me a more informed individual.

I was surrounded by students who were activists on their campuses or who promoted social justice advancements. They are all such passionate individuals, and I have been inspired by so many of them.

Even though I do not have a solid plan for the future, I know that that’s okay. I’ve finally been able to accept that I will find what works for me and to just continue doing what I love. I’ve always cared too much about other’s opinions, but this has helped me build more confidence in myself. I’m so excited to start a new school year with this new mentality. My internship has (hopefully) turned me into a better person, with more experience and an even bigger passion for public service!

DC has opened my eyes to so much history and so many opportunities! I cannot wait to go back sometime in the future!

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Reflection | Blog #5

At the beginning of this summer, I wasn’t sure of how my internship would affect my future goals and outlook on life. I had taken a few different computer science based courses last school year and found the subject really compelling. Previously, I had focused primarily on my neuroscience studies and held an internship last summer in a genetics lab, and this past summer, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to engage myself in this new field. However, I did not want to let my interests in biology fall to the wayside, and I had hoped that the opportunity I had found with a lab on campus could allow me the chance to work closely with both fields. My internship provided me a number of challenges, most notably designing and implementing a sophisticated framework, as this was my first experience in software development. I had the exciting opportunity to present my work at a symposium for the first time and I could see what some other aspects of academia are like aside from strictly research and development. A crucial element of research is communicating work with others, something that can only be improved through practice. After this experience, I hope to continue working in the realm of software, particularly on problems where computer science can aid the biomedical community. Overall, I am very grateful for my experience this past summer. I look forward to exploring the role of software and computation in biological problems, and I hope to continue working in this fascinating field beyond my undergraduate career.

From Assistant to Presenter | #4

My favorite thing about being placed in the civil rights department at the USDA is that someone finally found a way to combine both of my majors! One of my supervisors told me that she wanted to hire me because of my background in Political Science and BCN. Weird, right? Everyone’s always so confused when I tell them I’m double majoring in these two fields that are so different from one another.

However, being in the civil rights department, she knew that she wanted to use my BCN background to implement changes in our agency. After hearing that, I was so excited to begin my journey in DC. Originally, I was a little hesitant to work at USDA, since I had no background about this agency. However, this totally changed my perspective on things.

When I got to the office, I was initially told to help out with with a presentation on a game changer. They wanted to implement the New IQ: Diversity and Inclusiveness into the workplace at USDA. My role involved incorporating neuroscience evidence to the importance of this initiative. Everyone knows and always hears about incorporating diversity in the workplace, but by providing this scientific evidence, I was supposed to give them a new way of looking at things.

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It was amazing being able to incorporate two things–civil rights and psychology–that I’m so passionate about. What made it even better was that while I was making talking points for my supervisor, she told me she wanted me to present at the SEPM (Special Emphasis Program Management) Training Workshop! This is a two day USDA training workshop for employees around the DC Metro Area.

I was so excited and nervous at the same time! I am used to presenting information and presentations, but this was in front of professionals in a specific field. However, I knew I had to be comfortable doing something out of my comfort zone.

The training was in Maryland, and I had never taken the metro to that area. So evidently, I got lost getting there, sweat so much on my walk from the station to the hotel, and then showed up late to my presentation. As soon as I walked in, another co-worker was going over my slides. I was so disappointed and upset, and walked straight to a table to sit down.

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However, the coordinator came to get me and comforted me since I didn’t know what to do. He made them go back a few slides and had me do my presentation from the beginning. Since I was so nervous, sweaty, and embarrassed, I thought I rushed through my portion and did a horrible job. I  went through my slides and then walked over to the coordinator. In a fatherly way, he comforted me and told me I did a great job.

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Obviously I thought he was just being nice, so I tried to keep a good face and went back to my seat. I was planning on leaving as soon as the networking break started because I wanted to avoid talking to anyone. However, when the break started, so many people approached me to congratulate me, talk about my presentation, ask questions and to talk about my own life. I loved hearing what they had to say and was so glad people enjoyed the presentation. It gave me more confidence and allowed me to believe that I actually did a good job.

As I walked out of the building, I was so happy that even though I had a rough start, I was able to successfully give a presentation in front of so many USDA employees. Being an intern, I never thought I’d be given an opportunity like that. I was planning on writing, editing, and assisting with less important tasks, but being trusted with a project/presentation this big was such a unique and amazing experience for my first internship!

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