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Summer intern presentations!

Okay, I’m slacking, but with everything going on these days, I haven’t really written about our summer interns. This year our interns were a little more prepared for the program than the series of unfortunate events that occurred last year. Overall it’s been a good summer session, but it’s not quite over yet. Next week we have our summer symposium where the interns will do one final presentation on the final day of the program. Which means it’s once again 🎵 the final countdown🎵!!!!!

For those who don’t remember or haven’t been around long enough, last year we had two interns, which is normal for us. Unfortunately, the one I was mentoring was fresh out of high school and while we were thrilled to have them working with us, they did not feel like they belonged in the program and quickly felt that they were in over their head. In the end, I did my best to help out and it was a strong albeit rocky finish (here). There were several ups and downs, but in the end they said it was a good experience and that’s what matters.

This year our interns seem to be a bit more prepared for the internship. Last year wasn’t bad and really it’s exactly why we have internships to begin with, to get people to branch out, but it’s nice not having to worry too much too! Last year we had a few experiments going on where they helped collect the data, so the experiments were basically assigned to them since we were finishing a few and starting a few. This year we got our interns at (arguably) a good point in time because we had so many new projects starting they could essentially pick one of the topics they found interesting. It also gave them a chance to see broadly what kind of research we do.

Our lab is (maybe I’m bias) unique in that we work with human participants. Most of the labs do cell culture work or things of that nature. We’re the only (as far as I know) lab currently working with humans. Our research is readily translatable in other words, but it also means there’s a lot of chaos, busy periods where all the participants are free to come in and periods where they are all gone so we’re slow(er). It means our lab is a bit chaotic for interns, but this year especially so.

Thankfully the interns were great and managed to work through all the chaos while they’ve been with us. We’re counting down the final days now, so before the end of the internship the hospital routinely does a practice session with the interns so they can present the work they did to anyone who wants to attend. It’s a relatively small event, but it’s a lot of fun (typically anyway) and gives the interns a chance to practice before the big conference where they will get judged and potentially win an award.

I wish I could say the practice session went off without a hitch, but we had several technical issues and some weird noise issues, but through all that the interns (all of them, not just ours) managed to do a good job overall and it was fun to see some of the stuff they got to work on over the summer.

We practiced a bit before our interns went to present and I think it went well overall. They seemed confident in what they were presenting and managed to answer some questions from the audience. Some of which were surprisingly difficult things to ask an intern. I only really had to step in once to help answer a question, but that’s not uncommon and several other labs did the same thing for their interns as well.

At the end of the day, I think it was a good experience and they both seem pretty upbeat about it. I’m excited to see how things wrap up next week. My presentation happens before theirs and they already asked if they could come watch mine (which, I mean, of course that’s not a problem) so they’ll get to at least see how I present in the same format they will be using. We’re judged too, so it will be interesting to see how I do and how they do.

Speaking of which, last year one of our interns won first place, so it would be exciting to see that happen again.


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