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Massachusetts General Hospital

Undergraduate Research Assistant

May 2019 • Boston, MA

What I liked

Above all, this internship has taught me how to think and plan scientifically. I’ve not only learned useful lab techniques that I will put on my CV, but the importance of understanding every step, compound and technique used in an experiment and how these can be tweaked and optimized towards different goals using my own understanding. I've learned the invaluable habit of truly immersing myself in the literature of a discipline to draw connections and always be well informed. Something that will serve me well beyond my work with cancer immunology. My research presentations were ripped apart, my pipetting technique chastised, my sanitary techniques refined, and I now come out a more polished and deliberate laboratory worker with a newfound respect for the meticulous work that MD/PHDs constantly produce. This internship has given purpose and importance to the lab courses I've taken at Holy Cross. I would always work diligently and carefully in these courses to set proper lab habits for when I got to research that would actually affect the lives of others. But it always felt like I was just running on a treadmill preparing for the real race: a qPCR that would never actually add to our shared scientific knowledge, an organic compound that would be tossed in chemical waste all the same, a banal exercise with coke and diet coke just to prove I could use sig figs properly. But now that I'm immersing myself in glioblastoma research, it feels all that training has finally come to fruition. I feel like every compound I double check, every pipette box I make sure I close, every extra hour I spend so I can do another experiment tomorrow, truly has the potential to make a difference in the lives and give hope to those who suffer from such an ugly, scary disease. After the long days I ride home tired on the T I feel as though all those hours toiling at my lab notebook have finally paid off, and I have contributed to and explored research where my work will never be personally invaluable and universally important. Lastly, I've learned and experienced something invaluable about the sacrifice, passion, immigrant work ethic and dedication. Every member of my lab used to be a neurosurgeon in Japan or China and has given away at least 2-3 years of their lives to work within a foreign culture and language in order to learn how to be better scientists, observe the quality standards of a Harvard research lab, and take this knowledge back home to improve the work they do and the perspective they keep. I've watched my colleagues brush off their cultural and economic struggles and immerse themselves in vitally important, unprecedented research to improve and save the lives of all who struggle with glioblastoma. That lesson may be the most important of all.

What I wish was different

The things that drained me about this internship had to do with my work schedule and the what I sacrificed in order to do it. The long hours and commute The knowledge I was sacrificing some of the "fun part" of my early 20s by not taking trips to the cape, not staying up till 3 on Tuesdays, skipping a cruise with my cousins, and using that time to immerse myself in this internship and opportunity to my best ability. The language barrier I'd consistently have to cross to communicate with my post doc

Advice

A lot of STEM students will be enticed by the idea of a Harvard research lab, but they have to be prepared to put in work, stay extra hours to understand lab practices, techniques, current projects, attend meetings, make presentations etc. If you want an "easy" summer internship this isn't for you.
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Research Intern

June - August 2019 • Boston, MA

What I liked

Shadowing a doctor in a clinic

What I wish was different

I wish I did bench lab work instead of clinical research. Clinical research is interesting but this experience definitely made me realize that I enjoy “wet” labs a lot more.

Advice

Take any research experience especially since it’s difficult to get some. You won’t like everything but it will help you learn what you’re actually passionate about.
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Critical Care Technician

May 2019 • Boston, MA

What I liked

It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot. I am grateful to gain clinical experience while in nursing school. The skills I have learned with definitely help me become more comfortable in clinicals and translate to my practice once I graduate.

What I wish was different

A more consistent schedule since I was working another job at another hospital. I only worked nights, which I actually enjoy, it just made it hard to have a consistent work schedule between both jobs.

Advice

Make as many connections as possible and do not be afraid to ask to see something you find interesting. More often than not, they want you to see the cool procedures that go on on the floor, but it is your own personal responsibility to take your learning into your own hands
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