We're a little crazy, about science!

The end of summer internship

Well today wasn’t the official day, but we had our first presentations for the summer internship program. Friday will be the last day for the interns and we will bid them farewell and good luck with whatever they do in life. The presentations today were meant to be fun and just a way to celebrate everything the interns learned while they were with us. We got to see work done in all the labs and the experiences were varied, so that made for an interesting time. Basically summer is near the end and it’s a little hard to process to be honest.

With everything that happened today I have no clue where to even start. The presentations went well, so that was good. Our lab had (technically has) two summer interns, one that I was working with specifically. For those unaware, her time with us has been eventful (here) and she wasn’t thrilled about presentations (here). There was a lot of anxiety going into this talk for everyone, I wanted my intern to have fun, but also to walk away feeling confident. If today went horrible I was worried that the rest of the week was going to be miserable and that her experience with us was going to be, well awful.

The good news is the talk went well! She rocked it and the question and answer section went off smoothly. Overall I was really happy with her performance and I’m glad she did it. Afterwards she said it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. This is the same person who told me she specifically would avoid talks in school and fail assignments by refusing to give talks. Seriously, she said that her grades weren’t as good as they could’ve been if she had given the presentation, but she just had really bad stage fright, so she’s never in her life given a talk. But reader, I’ll tell you now you wouldn’t have guessed that based on her performance.

It was a fun time and even though I think she was super stressed out about everything she nailed it. The thing is our lab does stuff that is so different from every other lab that when the other interns would talk about the work they were doing she felt like it was in a different language and that’s because it really was. What she didn’t understand was the reverse applies too, no one had any clue about the stuff she did so when it came time for Q&A everyone was impressed and asked basic questions about why we did things in a particular way. She spent all the time with us learning the things we did and not the stuff other labs were doing so I think she figured she wasn’t as smart as all the people doing the cell research stuff, but really she just had a different skill set than most of the other interns.

It probably didn’t help with her feeling of being left out, but I think the presentation made it very clear that she knew what she was doing. She’s tough to read sometimes, but I really think she felt good afterwards. If only because it was done and over with!

Now we have one final presentation scheduled for Friday, but that’s the poster session so it won’t be in front of a room giving a talk style like today was. Here was a young woman who came into the program and almost left us because she didn’t think she was smart enough to be here with us and she’s done some great stuff she never thought she could do. She stepped way outside her comfort zone today to give the first talk of her life and it went well. I’m lucky to be a part of that and it’s why I love being a mentor. I hope the experience will have a positive impact on her life and what she decides to do moving forward. I also hope that she’s learned that she can do a lot more than she gives herself credit for, but that one may take some time to sink in.


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