Category Archives: Summer 2016

It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later

Although my internship at BANGL has ended, the experience was incredibly rewarding. I have learned incredible scientific techniques and specific lab protocols. While my understanding on research has been developed, the biggest appreciation I have from my time at BANGL is the environment of support that the lab fosters.

While the lab is dedicated to finding answers to improve maternal health and infant development, we always prioritize the participants’ privacy and comfort and strive to remind them of their contribution. While working on the amendments to the IRB to create a biobank for the biological samples, the lab discussed how the participants would be involved. They will be able to decide whether or not they want to donate their samples. In order to keep the participants connected to the other projects, we decided to post the studies that use the biobank on our website. Additionally, I wrote birthday cards, a small gesture to show the participants we care about them and their involvement in the study. Others wrote thank you cards to express gratitude.

Beyond the study, I have felt supported academically and personally. I was enrolled in genetics over the summer as well, and I was excited when I actually understood what was being discussed at lab meetings. Genetics is not an easy subject, but I am glad that the lab directly applied the information. The studies assess telomere length, DNA methylation, single nucleotide polymorphisms, and other genetic topics. The lab supplemented my learning in the classroom.

This semester I am studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While I am disappointed that my work in the lab is paused, I am excited to explore a new environment. As previously mentioned, I must complete an Independent Study Project (ISP). The lab not only helped calm my worries before my departure, but also helped me think of ideas to explore for my ISP. Because the lab focuses on the maternal infant dyadic relationship, a mentor suggested I explore the dyad in relation to the desaparecidos (or the disappeared). During the 1970s, many children and young adults in Buenos Aires were removed from their families. Many have been reunited and I am curious how the separation has affected their own family interactions. While I have time to decide my project, this was a helpful area of exploration.

I have so much appreciation for the work of BANGL and everyone in the lab. I cannot wait to return in January and learn more about the lab and continue to develop my understanding of how to properly conduct research.


Painful Goodbyes

As I begin settling in to college, I can’t seem to stop thinking about Guatemala and my entire experience there.

Overall, I delivered three babies, improved my Spanish, and sat in for various family planning appointments this summer. I did not know it was possible to surpass all of my learning goals for the summer with this incredible opportunity. What enthralled me the most during this internship was understanding the differences between the U.S. and Guatemalan health care systems. I now want a more direct focus in the field of global health and international development. In the future I hope to keep traveling and working abroad to receive a more global experience.

I would absolutely recommend this program to public health students interested in the field of maternal child health. I would advise them to come with an expectation to learn and to take advantage of every day there.

After working in Guatemala, a few of my philosophies have changed dramatically. I used to believe that hospitals are always safe and that c-sections are great options for women. After having conversations with local Guatemalan women in my clinic and working in a natural birth center, I realized how important female empowerment is especially to pregnant women. All women deserve the right to a natural birth and a right to choose her birthing method.  I hope to gather more research in this area of study and possibly have more to write about soon.

Everything I learned this summer wouldn’t have been possible had I not worked abroad. I can’t wait to apply everything I learned in my university and my experiences to come.

DC Internship: Final Thoughts

This summer has been amazing. Full stop.

This has been, by far, the most fulfilling summer I’ve ever had. DC was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back. The staff at NEMWI really cares about the interns, and I’m glad I had such a comfortable experience for my first internship and first extended DC stay. I am absolutely convinced that DC is the place for me, but it is not without its challenges. I’m thankful to NEMWI for helping me make those challenges easier.
I am ready to finish my last year of college strong. My schedule this year looks really exciting. I’m going into this year with a different perspective from previous years. I know what type of knowledge I need to gain to be successful in the workplace, and I have the chance to go acquire that knowledge before I start my career. Before this internship, I enjoyed school, but I was studying for the sake of studying. After this summer, I have more focus and defined purpose.
I still have mixed feelings about unpaid internships, but it has definitely been worth the expense for me. I have had the opportunity to grow, develop, and accomplish things this summer that I would never have been able to do without an internship. I am particularly grateful to NCI for making this experience possible.
If you’re considering an internship, particularly in DC, I highly recommend it. There are paid opportunities if you start looking early enough. There are also great Tulane resources to help defray the cost.
If you’re interested in working in DC right out of college, internships are almost required. Everyone I met in DC had interned. It also helps to be in DC if you’re trying to make connections and hear about new opportunities. My fellow interns and I would joke that we could make an entire internship out of going to briefings and public lectures. There are also wonderful programs like PLEN that help women learn to navigate the DC job market. One of the best connections I made all summer, I met at a Newcomb networking reception. There are a ton of helpful networks and organizations that are there to help young women succeed. Take advantage of those and follow up with the people you meet.
Now that I’m back in NOLA, I really miss DC, but I’m looking forward to going back as soon as I can.

Final Post!

I have officially completed my summer internship with TuckerGurl!!! It went by way faster than I anticipated, but I feel I have accomplished so much. From working on a short film to editing a web series I have definitely gained a lot of useful skills and knowledge. I was able to improve my editing, I gained first hand experience in acting, learned the roles and responsibilities of the different positions on a film set, and networked with some very talented professionals.

Although my summer internship is over, I do plan on working with Angela Tucker and TuckerGurl throughout the school year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the filming of the feature length film Paper Chase has been pushed back to a later date, so I am still very much looking forward to working on that project. I imagine it will be similar to the short film I worked on this summer, but of course more extensive and a much larger cast and crew. This will be a great opportunity to solidify and build upon the skills I have learned.

Having completed this internship I would like to start working on more of my own projects. I feel I have learned a lot about editing and made some great connections with other young professionals who I could potentially collaborate with in the future. This may be something I delve into more after we wrap Paper Chase.

For any students who are interested in working in the film industry, but do not have much experience, I would advise them to reach out to local/independent filmmakers. In my opinion this allows for a lot more personal growth. For example, if I were to have interned with Universal Studios or another major production company I most likely would have been stuck doing a lot of grunge work. However, since I worked with an independent filmmaker my role and contributions were much more valuable and I was able to do a lot more hands on learning. Also, my boss was very patient and willing to help me gain a better understanding of certain softwares or procedures I was unfamiliar with.

I was fortunate enough to work very closely with multiple female-identified professionals. My boss is a woman, our producer is a woman, along with our casting director and cinematographer. This was encouraging for me to see these women who are so successful in their fields. It made me feel very comfortable and confident in pursuing my desired career path, despite the fact it is in a male dominated field.

This internship really pushed me to be an independent worker and problem solver. As much as my boss was present and willing to help me, a lot of the work I did required me to creatively problem solve and figure things out through trial and error. My boss was not checking in on me every few minutes, but instead asked me to complete an assignment over the course of a week or so and then check my work and give me constructive criticism. I enjoyed this because it afforded me the time to understand the work I was doing at my own pace, in my own way. I did not feel pressured to accomplish or learn something new in an hour or even one day. This helped me develop my own creative process and solve my own issues. Now, I feel I can tackle my own projects even if I may not have all of the answers from the beginning. I am very satisfied with not only the work I accomplished, but what I learned throughout this internship. If I could do it all over agin I would, and I look forward to working with TuckerGurl in the near future.

Blog Post #4

My internship ended the Friday before last, and I’ve spent the last week reflecting on the experience. I’ve been road tripping from Los Angeles to New Orleans, so I’ve had a lot of time to think. When I left the office Friday afternoon, I was overwhelmed with relief, ready to embrace the last few weeks of summer. I think I resented this internship a little bit, particularly towards the end, because I felt like it had robbed me of my summer – my commute was nearly an hour and a half, and I spent six hours at the office every day, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time for much else. I guess I was still stuck in that youthful mindset that summer is supposed to be spent on vacation, swimming, barbequing and roasting marshmellows – all fireworks and sunshine. However, my dad reminded me that he hasn’t had that kind of “summer” since he graduated high school – responsibilities don’t disappear just because it’s beach weather. And as obvious as this may seem, this realization allowed me to see my internship experience in a new light – my whole concept of “summer” has been redefined, so this summer set the bar. 

I spent the summer in my little nook in the corner of the office, with my supervisor’s office on my right and the other intern on my left. My responsibilities were not specific – as a “Special Projects Intern”, my job description was fluid, often changing on an as-needed basis. I conducted research, created industry-wide contact lists, contributed to reports, and aided in the coordination and execution of events hosted by New Orleans Business Alliance. The changing nature of my internship was one of my favorite parts – I found the weeks dedicated entirely to research to be tedious, and, to put it bluntly, a little mind-numbing. 

As a reminder, the Learning Objectives I had outlined at the beginning of the summer are as follows: 

  1. Learn about potential career paths with an economics degree and network with professionals in different fields.
  2. Understand the importance of research and planning in a business environment and in impacting economic change.
  3. Gain confidence in an office setting and in my business abilities.
  4. Utilize the knowledge I’ve accumulated from my academic background and apply it in real life scenarios.
  5. Become more familiar with the New Orleans economy, and also work towards more personal independence living in this city.

A week or so after the conclusion of my internship, I can assuredly say that I’ve made significant progress in three of these goals: 2, 3, and 5. I have performed an exorbitant amount of research, finding contact informations to assemble resource directories, creating in-house reports with information on different organizations and companies, and other projects. And while the research often seemed pointless to me, something that anyone could do, I know that it allowed different projects being conducted by different departments to run much smoother: information that I had found over the course of hours from dozens of different websites was summarized neatly on a page or two, simple and clear. Though it was not always the most rewarding task, its importance was undeniable. Similarly, thorough planning was crucial: as a relatively new organization, NOLABA still has yet to smooth out some of the kinks in setting universal protocols and procedures, and my supervisor has explained to me how that can hold up projects. She also explained to me all of the planning that goes into coordinating an event, and even had me create a universal event planning checklist, from figuring out a guest list, to setting a theme, to renting technology equipment. 

As far as gaining confidence in an office setting, I got to a place about halfway through the summer where I felt like I had earned the right to be there. I was comfortable talking to most of the NOLABA team, I had no problem getting up to stretch my legs when I felt like I needed a break, and I felt like I had developed a good rhythm at work, and I knew when to take initiative and when to ask questions. I would by no means call myself business savvy, but having worked in an office has given me a new working experience beyond the food industry and customer service.

Finally, I think that my understanding of New Orleans has expanded exponentially. I know my way around the CBD, I often gave directions to tourists on the streetcar who saw me in my slacks and blazer and deemed me a local, and I found myself a regular at several coffee and sandwich places near where I work. I also have a better understanding of New Orleans from an economic standpoint – I know where we thrive, and where we struggle, what industries are the biggest focuses. I know that New Orleans often attracts young talent (especially with all the colleges), but has a hard time with talent migration and needs to find a way to retain young professionals and entrepreneurs. This is my proudest summer accomplishment, that I have reached a level of independence that resembles adulthood – it was the first time in my experience as a “young adult” where maturity and autonomy felt like my life, instead of like I was faking it, a kid playing dress-up. It made me feel as if I could do more. 

Moving forward, I’d like to explore other career paths that I could pursue with an Economics degree. I’d like to work for a large, bureaucratic company with clearly outlined job descriptions and responsibilites. My supervisor strongly encouraged that now that I’ve worked at a small nonprofit, I should try a work for an established national or international company, so that I can have a fuller idea of what working in business might entail. I intend to network with as many alumni as possible, to forge stronger relationships with professors and read about what career path I might want to follow. I realize that I don’t have as much time as I thought, and summer is about moving forward, not standing still and dreading September. Now, I’m looking forward to September, to when the Tulane community is back at full capacity and I can take advantage of all of the resources – academic, professional, and personal – at my disposal. I think that this experience has made me a much more confident, capable individual, and I am not so fearful of taking risk and making decisions. I am more resourceful, more creative, and ultimately, more effective in problem solving. The autonomy I experienced this summer has made me take a much more active role in my life: It has been easy thus far, I went to high school, I went to college – this was the first time where I felt like I had to make a real decision for myself, and whether or not the decision to stay and work in New Orleans this summer was the right one, I’m glad that I decided. Sometimes decisive women in positions of authority are considered “cold,” “bossy,” or “controlling,” where men exhibiting the same traits are “ambitious” and “strong-willed,” and that double standard can be intimidating – however, what I saw at NOLABA, where the male-to-female ratio is relatively even, women in authority are treated with respect. The women I worked with were so confident in their abilities and steadfast in their opinions – their behavior, and the way they carried themselves demanded respect so they didn’t have to do it outright. I think that having that confidence, that security in your own abilities, is the best way to successfully attain and handle leadership as a woman – an ability that is often learned rather than innate, as a result of social expectations and traditions, of being treated as second-class citizens for centuries. 

While there were certainly negative aspects of my internship – the commute was long, the work could be tedious, their was not a lot of interaction and collaboration – the experience was invaluable. To a student interested in interning at my host organization, I would advise them to walk in with an open mind. Walking in with expectations is asking for disappointment, and can prevent you from getting as much out of the experience as possible. I would also advise any future intern to network early, and talk with the rest of the team as soon as they start, because if you wait, it starts to feel awkward (and the beginning is always awkward anyways, so you might as well be forward). For a student interested in interning in the economic development industry in general, my biggest advice would be to celebrate the little victories. It can be hard work, and sometimes feels unrewarding on a smaller scale – it takes years for real change to happen, so it’s important to appreciate the learning experience, and to see the virtue in small rewards. 

Saying Farewell to Paris (for now)

It’s hard to believe that my year in Paris is done! Having this internship was a great way to extend my time in Paris and bring a close to an incredible year. My work with COPE was varied, which helped me grow in each of my learning objectives for the summer. From research to translations to editing, I was able to improve my writing skills in both English and French, and the small nature of the office really gave me an environment where I always had to take initiative on a task. I also learned more about being an effective change-maker. After seeing the wide variety of partners and organizations in COPE’s network, it’s become all the more evident to me that change is best brought about via a collective effort.

With my internship completed I feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of the legal rights and concerns surrounding the families of incarcerated. I’d like to learn more about how we treat children of prisoners in the US and see how it compares to my experiences in France. If possible, I’d like to find a program in Louisiana where I can accompany children on their prison visits.

For other students interested in an internship concerning human rights and/or nonprofit work, my most valuable advice would be to find an organization that actually needs your help, not necessarily a big name just to put on a resume. There are so many internships where you barely dip your toe into the substantive work and leave without having much project work to show for it. Find an internship where you’ll be able to take on some type of leadership position and where you can (hopefully) see directly how your work contributes to the organization on a meaningful level. It’s also crucial for any internship to create positive relationships with your coworkers; you never know who may be a future business partner, networking connection, or even a good friend!

In terms of finding leadership positions, I’ve found the simplest and most effective way to get yourself where you want to be is just to ask. If you feel you are qualified to take on a task or project, requesting a leadership role politely and with confidence will go a long way. Asking directly shows a superior that you have both initiative and drive.

That’s all my advice for now! Until next time, Paris.



End of GrowNYC

I’ve been done with my internship at GrowNYC for some time now and have had a chance to reflect on my amazing summer.

Looking back I feel so thankful for all that NCI and GrowNYC (specifically my supervisor Winnie) provided me with. I believe that this summer was a time of growth and development. I learned a lot about the business-side of a non-profit organization and the administrative work necessary for all sections of the program to run smoothly. I was able to increase my own knowledge and awareness of the importance of eating locally by teaching students and New Yorkers. I also gained confidence in my public speaking by giving tours of the greenmarkets, speaking to classes, and speaking to co-workers.

Whose to say where I will end up in the future, but I will certainly hold onto the things that I learned from GrowNYC. I will continue to maintain confidence in myself and take initiative when it comes to jobs and opportunities. I will continue to educate others about why one should shop locally and sustainable through my work with the Green Wave Community Market at Tulane. I will also tell other women about the Newcomb College Institute and the amazing summer that it helped to create. GrowNYC provided me with a lot of face-to-face work. I would like to explore my love of working with people and perhaps looks into teaching, therapy, or social work.

If I could give any advice to future students it would be to take initiative. My internship did not have any listed job availabilities, but I thought that I might as well try. After an e-mail correspondence and a phone call, I had the job! Do not be embarrassed about reaching out and do not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.

It is the end

It has been a little over a weeks since my last day at Manos Abiertas and I must say I am tempted to fly back to Guatemala. I learned so much in my three months in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala. My Spanish listening and speaking skills have improved leaps and bounds. I was able to learn about Guatemalan culture and the different set of challenges present in the healthcare system. I learned how to effectively communicate crossculturally and I found a passion for maternal and child health. As for problem-solving, my internship taught me how to best do so by thinking outside of the box and never giving up.

My time with Manos Abiertas has left me with a desire to work on health education and empowering patients to make their own health decision. I would love to do this when I get back to Tulane. My internship has made me aware of the power of traditional medicine for treatment. I would love to study botany more so I can learn how to best intertwine Western and traditional medicine.

For anyone thinking of volunteering with Manos Abiertas in the future, I would advise them to be helpful in any way they can. Whether that is scrubbing the floors or advertising services, look for what needs to be done and just do it. You will make the most of your time and help out as much as possible.

In Guatemala, I have found that machismo culture is present and one of the ways to best combat this is education. You can help contribute to education everywhere in whatever you do. Just take on the task and you will be amazed with the results. As a female working in the field of maternal and child health, you have a unique opportunity to educate as women about women and make them feel comfortable with the stigmatized topics.

I learned so much in my 10 weeks in Guatemala. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

End of an Awesome Summer at CSHL

I can’t believe the summer is nearly over and I’ve come to the end of my internship. I’ve learned so much over the past three months, and really enjoyed the time I spent in Dr. Lyon’s lab.

At the beginning of the summer, I hoped to accomplish five things. I wanted to acquire wet lab skills, gain experience working with a lab team, get an idea of what I’d like to do in the future, take full advantage of the learning opportunities presented to me, and improve my critical thinking skills. I’m happy to say I met all of the goals I set out for myself. When I first started I didn’t even know how to hold a pipette, but by the last week I was running entire PCRs (which involve A LOT of pipetting) on my own. I learned about mouse handling, microscopy, and Western Blotting, and brainstormed and collaborated with a team each day. After hearing about what Dr. Lyon had to say about medical school, grad school, and M.D./Ph.D. programs, I have a much better idea of what I’d like to do- right now, I’m thinking about an M.D./Ph.D. program. My critical thinking skills improved vastly, and I took full advantage of the resources provided to me- I read a countless number of articles and books this summer.

Moving forward, I would like to continue my involvement in research. I loved the challenge each day, and would like to get involved in a lab at Tulane or return to Dr. Lyon’s Lab and CSHL next summer. I’ve become a lot more confident in my capabilities as a scientist, which will help me wherever I end up next.

Having completed this internship, I want to continue learning about intellectual disorders and mechanisms of disease- I’ve learned I’m really interested in these things. I’d also like to assist with clinical research to see whether I’d prefer a wet lab research or medical research based career in the future.

I would advise a future student interning with Dr. Lyon to take full advantage of everything he is offering. This experience was what you made it- if you choose to sit in the office all day you probably could, but the more you read about, ask about, and volunteer for the more you’ll learn. Dr. Lyon is an incredibly insightful man and a great teacher, so I’d advise a future student to ask him anything they want to know about careers in science or his work- he was always happy to help me and I learned so much just by speaking with him.

Coming in, I knew science and engineering was male dominated. Many of the other primary investigators I met were male, but I also met a lot of female scientists and graduate students- in a few years, the ratio may even out as more and more women decide to pursue careers in science. I would advise females looking for leadership in the work place to never be afraid to share their ideas, opinions, and insight. I struggled with this in the beginning, especially because I didn’t feel like I knew enough to share an opinion, and that any apprehensions I had were simply because I didn’t know as much as everyone else. I’m happy to say I’m more confident in my ideas, which in turn has made me a better leader, problem solver and citizen.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Dr. Lyon this summer, and for the Newcomb College Institute for making it possible for me to have this experience. The grant money I was awarded allowed me to have an educational and inspiring summer, and I am incredibly thankful for this! I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Truss Me, I’m An Engineer

While I will be continuing my work into the fall semester, this week marks the end of my summer time with LaCell. I am extremely happy with what I learned and accomplished this summer.

My primary achievement this summer is development of user-friendly image analysis code for LaCell employees to use after I am gone. This satisfies my goals of applying my education to a professional setting, understanding how my engineering education can be used to solve problems outside of engineering, and expanding upon my knowledge of image analysis. In addition, I worked on developing similar but different image analysis code for another project as well as begun researching the project I will take on in the fall. This satisfies my goal of learning how to balance multiple projects at a time. Finally, my time with LaCell fulfills my goal of exposure to a company in the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. Now that (the summer portion of) my internship is over, I would like to continue to learn more about image analysis. I would also like to experience what it is like to be in a work environment full time. However, I will have to wait for this experience until my academic responsibilities are taken care of in May 2017 when I graduate.

In my immediate future, I will complete my 5th year at Tulane as a graduate biomedical engineering student by taking classes, working hard in my lab to finish my thesis, and getting as much professional experience as possible in my internship. After graduation, I plan to leave academia and ideally take a job either with medical devices or medical software. While I am still trying to figure out the best way to go about applying for jobs, the best advice I can give others in my field is to build and expand your network every opportunity you get. That is how I got my internship with LaCell, and how many of my older friends got jobs after graduation.

engineerInspiration for my graduation cap in May 2017, and for the title of this blog post.

My experience as a woman in engineering so far has been positive. A third of the biomedical engineering class of 2016 at Tulane is women, and I work in a lab that is made up of more women than men. At LaCell, my positive experiences as a woman in engineering were reinforced. I never felt less-qualified for the projects I took on, and always felt respected when people came to me with questions or updated project objectives. While it is difficult for me to speak from professional experience on leadership in the work place, I can say the best way to be a leader in an academic setting is to be confident and willing to listen to what your peers have to say. Engineering is a field where team work is incredibly common, and I have found that leadership skills I learned in class have easily translated into my work at LaCell.

I am excited to see where my last year at Tulane takes me, and where I end up after graduation. Thanks to my time at LaCell and to the Newcomb College Institute, I will be better prepared for whatever comes my way.