The most surprising thing about my internship are the other scientists that I work with everyday. My three roommates were all physics majors, like me, from large schools like University of Florida and a smaller college in Talladega. It has been a blessing to be with others who are as odd as I am. Waking up in the morning and preparing for seminars, we have ranging conversations that allow us to see through each other’s eyes. Although we are all different races and have different backgrounds, I laugh as loud with them as my long-time friends. More surprising are the attitudes of my mentors and principal investigators(PI’s), besides mandatory seminars and meetings, time is a social construct that no one pays attention to. Although there are hard deadlines, my PI understands that 7pm-2am may be a better time for me to complete my work than the conventional 8-5. With so much leeway and freedom, the work that is submitted should be up to par with the high expectation of the community.
What I wish was different
Through this internship experience I have learned that being nervous and anxious does not yield productivity. Calming down and gathering myself allows me to relax and think rationally instead of moving fast and making mistakes. Specifically, when I am moving too fast I could miss a step when turning off a microscope. Leaving on a laser could lead to the laser becoming damaged or disabled; not turning off all CO2 levers could waste an entire gas cylinder. I have made both of these mistakes, but fortunately I recognized them before any real damage occurred. If there was anything that I would change about my internship, I would have extended the summer program so that I could get further along on my project.
When entering an atmosphere that can be hard to navigate, it is imperative that one takes the time to slow down and separate information so that what is known and unknown is clear. When there is a misunderstanding, always ask questions that are clear and make sense.