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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The Ones Who Truly Changed My Life| #3

Have you ever met a group of people who changed your life in such a short period of time? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me this past summer! I have always surrounded myself with people I have felt comfortable with, but in DC I was finally able to step outside of my comfort zone.

First, I was accepted into a federal internship program (CAPAL) with 28 other students from different universities. When I decided to live in DC, I decided to share a condo with five other girls from around the nation. On my first day of work, I understood that I was  placed in a federal agency (USDA) with professionals at many different levels. Through CAPAL, I was even placed with an official mentor and a caPAL (big-little program).

All of those opportunities have allowed me to have interactions with individuals who truly impacted my life!

My mentor was Lakshmi Sridaran and she is the Director Director of National Policy and Advocacy at South Asian Americans Leading Together. I felt so blessed to be able to learn from Lakshmi during my two months in DC. We had so much in common, especially with our passions, past experiences and cultural backgrounds. It was so nice to be able to relate to someone on so many levels and to be able to learn from someone who has gone through similar things in life. She helped me open up a lot more and allowed me to believe in myself and my passions more openly, which was so fantastic!

Lakshmi became more like an older family figure in my life, which was so comforting in a new city. She truly cared about me and genuinely took the time to get to know me or help me out. I’m so glad CAPAL organized this mentorship program that allowed me to meet such a successful and amazing individual. We meet up quite a few times for food or coffee, I visited her office, and she even took pictures of me at one of my presentations like a parent would! I loved how she wasn’t that much older than me, but was always taking care of me–it felt like I had a friend and mentor at the same time!

In addition to the mentorship program, CAPAL organized a caPAL (or big/little) program. I was fortunate enough to be paired with Shiv Rawal, who was the Secretary on CAPAL’s board. Like with Lakshmi, I was also able to relate to Shiv on so many levels. He was closer in age to me, and has experienced many of the same things in life as well. Shiv helped me out with so many factors–whether it be school/work related or just advice on living in DC. He also helped me open up a lot more and be comfortable with myself and my goals.

It was so comforting to get to know other South Asians like Lakshmi and Shiv, who are pursuing careers in public service. It’s so rare to meet people like them and it was such a privilege to hear their stories and experiences. CAPAL did a fantastic job of setting up this formal mentor program and informal caPAL program with the intern class! I was able to learn so much more about this field, career choices, the role of South Asians, and even just about myself!

The 90’th Minute | #5

In the finals weeks of my internship, it really became clear the impact the experience had on me personally, as well as my career plans. I really enjoyed working for GT and traveling out to Minneapolis from Chicago to work on client sites. Living in Chicago for the summer was something I really enjoyed, but also found difficulties with. In the end though, this was something I would definitely be interested in doing again.

The conclusion of my internship was really a great way to tie it all together. My last few days on the job, I completed a deliverable for the client, which left me with something tangible to say “I completed, start to finish.” This was a great feeling, and even though I contributed throughout the project in many ways, this deliverable was a great way to cap it off. On my last night in Minneapolis, my team went over to a soccer match between Chelsea and AC Milan, another really cool experience, and something that really showed how close of a team we had.

As far as my career plans go, this summer was really an opportunity to see the world of consulting and financial management. While it wasn’t exactly a conventional experience, it was engaging and rewarding. I think living the life of a consultant and traveling frequently would certainly take a toll on you, but I could see myself really enjoying that path in my professional career.

I am incredibly fortunate to have had such a practical and fun experience with Grant Thornton this summer, and I look forward to taking on an extended role with the company next summer. Thank you so much LSA intern scholarship program for helping make my fantastic summer possible!!

 

President for the Day| #2

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As a CAPAL (Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership) Federal intern this summer, we were exposed to several opportunities like this every week. This is the podium where every President has given at least one speech during his term. It is the main auditorium in the State Department and was one of our favorite parts of the State Department tour. Being able to visit this building was such an informative and unique experience. We got to listen to and talk to a panel of foreign service officers, psychologists and human resource professionals. This experience was one of the many times that we got to visit agencies around the city (or DC metro area). Although this wasn’t through my actual internship, it was through my internship program, so it was a major part of my summer experience. We were given the opportunity to visit The Pentagon, State Department, CIA, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and so much more. My internship experience was as amazing as it was because I was exposed to so many different career fields and got the chance to network with such a diverse range of individuals. They all helped me open my eyes to all the possibilities I can pursue in public service. Since I haven’t really gotten any experience in this field, it was such a relief to be able to meet everyone. I also am surrounded by such good friends I made over the summer. All of the places I visited, professionals I got advice from, and the people I met helped shape my internship experience into a way that helped me grow tremendously as a person!

Mentorship | #4

My mentor this summer, Jie Zhu, was very helpful in helping me adjust to working in the lab and learning my responsibilities. She was always very approachable and patient when teaching me new aspects about the project, including critical background information that I had not yet learned from my college studies. She was also a crucial mentor in helping me solidify by career path choices. Jie is a medical doctor and just recently completed the health informatics program at Northwestern. I am interested in completing the health informatics master’s program at Michigan so it was essential to hear her point of view about the Northwestern program to see if it was something that would interest me in the future. She helped me figure out my strengths and interests and I am more confident in the path that I am choosing for my future career. She is also a valuable networking resource that I will not hesitate to contact in the future!

I have also developed relationships with my fellow interns, Colleen and Analiese. Colleen has interned at the lab for the previous two summers, so she is always giving us good feedback and teaching the new interns other lab upkeep tasks, such as dishwashing and autoclaving. We also are giving each other new ideas and feedback about our projects and what we can improve.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to develop a relationship with the lab’s primary investigator, Teresa Woodruff. She is very inspiring and dedicated to making sure that the interns were getting everything out of the internship and learning from other researchers in addition to their immediate mentors. She was interested in hearing about our career interests and being an important networking contact in the future.

Every week we had lab meetings to come together as a group and exchange feedback with each other. A lot of lab members also had lunch together to get to know different people as well as held informal demonstrations to teach new techniques.

 

 

Another Summer at Rebel Nell | #5

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Another summer with Rebel Nell is officially in the books. While I am still continuing to work with this company, I wanted to take a moment to look back on the summer and evaluate how much I’ve built up my professional career skills and how this internship has impacted me as a person.

This summer was definitely a different experience than my first with Rebel Nell. Going abroad halfway through my internship made things a little more difficult, but it also challenged me to prioritize. I realized that in order to remain accountable for the work that I was trusted with, finding time and committing to it was half of the battle. Even though it was a little more difficult to work from so far away, it made my work much more meaningful and purposeful.

As I begin my senior year at Michigan, I can’t imagine how my time here would have gone without having this internship– or any internships at all, for that matter. I truly believe that the experiences I gained through my internships not only enriched the education that I was getting in the classroom, but it also gave me a drive and motivation to pursue a career in a field that I am passionate about. Not to mention all of the practical real-world connections and networking opportunities having an internship afforded me. There is such a real value to having internships while in college, and I would recommend it to any student in any field of study.

Final Reflections | #5

As I enter my senior year of undergrad, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve changed, learned, and grown since I graduated high school. It’s safe to say that my summer abroad has made the greatest impact on who I am today.

Being abroad has taught me more about the world around me than a classroom or textbook ever could. It’s one thing to visit a foreign country, but it’s a completely different thing to live in it. You can’t fully immerse yourself in another culture without living it.

From working and traveling in Asia, I’ve learned so much about the region my parents call home. I discovered where the customs and traditions my parents raised me on came from, as well as how they came to be. I had a better grasp on why certain economies are the way they currently are. In southeast Asia, the only developed countries are Singapore and Hong Kong. When I visited Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Thailand, the differences between a developing and a developed nation became extremely evident. The less developed states often lacked what we would consider basic essentials. For instance, when I was in Bali, I was shocked to find no lanes on the roads and no address numbers on the buildings. Navigating became a little difficult, especially since I didn’t purchase a SIM card for the weekend trip.

But enough about my adventures; I’ve learned more from my internship than I could have hoped to gain. I got to experience the highs and the lows of entrepreneurship second hand. That basically sums it up, right?

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to intern at Covetella. There are a million pros to the internship, but what really drew me in was the founder. When I was preparing for my interview with her, I did some research on her and quickly realized that I really admired her. Her long list of accomplishments and unique character made me want to make her my mentor. She has taught me so much about business, networking, and life in general, and I don’t think I could ever thank her enough.

Being abroad on my own has taught me so much more about myself. I grew up pretty independent, but this experience has given me the affirmation that I’m ready to begin a life and career of my own. From all the places I’ve been and all of the people I’ve met, I’ve realized that I could easily move almost anywhere in the world and be okay.