Summer Internships 2018

Engage. Reflect. Integrate. #DsonIntern

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The people

Today marks the end of my summer internship at AhaMove.

The last three months have been a blast for me, again. This is the second time I come to AhaMove. I have had the chances to do what I desire, or at least is desiring to do – data science and data analysis.

However, more than that it is the people that I am mostly grateful about this opportunity. The young, talented, hopeful, energetic and inspiring people of AhaMove. Everyday coming to work was a day full of mixed feelings. The fun of being around people with the same age, same ideas and dreams. The enthusiasm when finding new things and learn new stuffs. The inspiration  of working side by side with those brilliant people. Everyday coming to work was a day full of hopes, energy and happiness for me.

Personally, going back to AhaMove but in a different role and a different team was a perfect move of me. I got the chance to be back in the dreamed working environment of AhaMove, but was still able to challenge myself in a different position and meet new people. Again, especially the people. Three month went by and our bonds have surely been stronger than simply coworker-ship.

Having said that, I am thankful to be a receiver of Dickinson’s Internship Grant. This grant has again allowed me to do what I love to and fulfill my summer, which no doubt has been a huge step in my career path in the future.

These last few words are for my Business Intelligence team at AhMove and the great people there. Thank you for the last three months. Thanks for opening up and welcoming me, for teaching me lessons and for being friends with me. I have known, I have learned, and, most importantly, I have felt happy. No one knows what the future holds, but I hope we will meet down the road, and definitely you and AhaMove are something I am absolutely never going to for.

Here to the “Vote Kill” team!

Goodbye Philadelphia, Goodbye Zoo!

Wow! This summer has FLOWN by! It seems like just last week that I was packing up my dorm room and finishing up my finals. Its crazy to believe that I’ll be sending off to South Caicos for study abroad in less than two weeks and that I finished my internship at the zoo and moved out of my apartment in Philadelphia just about a week ago. It’s all finally starting to sink in, and I have to admit, I miss it more than I though I would. Mostly, its the people I met, my fabulously enthusiastic supervisor and the great friends I met from either the next state over or halfway across the country. But, its also difficult to leave something that has helped you grow so much, personally and professionally.

When I started out at the zoo, I was pretty motivated in a lot of different ways. I wanted to find a working environment that I could be comfortable in, but also feel challenged to do things I would normally not be the most comfortable doing, such as talking about important things in front of groups of people. Also, because I have been oddly shy since starting college, something that does not fit my personality at all,  I felt it was important for me to get out of my slump and make connections with my fellow interns.

This internship program really ended up being the perfect place for me to grow up into someone who can be confident in a working environment. The program began with a four day orientation, which trained us on topics that many people wouldn’t initially think are necessary in a zoo setting. We had conversations that highly consider the long list of difficult questions that guests have, and how to carry yourself as a zoo employee. This training was quite long and mimicked the training all zoo staff and professionals go through before starting work. After the four days were up, I felt confident that I could answer nearly any guest question with ease, or at least, know the direction to send them in if I did not know the answer, an incredibly important part of customer service. The staff are all encouraging and constantly thanking the interns, noting that they can see the hard work we put in all summer long.

Socially, I excelled in this environment. Being surrounded by kind,  hardworking, like-minded people was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to be entirely myself. Many of the people I’ve met are people who I can see myself reconnecting in the future and some that I hope to maintain contact with. Because of this I actually feel more excited and less nervous to meet the people in my abroad program, as I believe I will once again be surrounded by people who are also similar to me.

Ultimately, I am sad to be saying goodbye to such a wonderful city. I have truly been spoiled by the local food and sights! Coming from the sticks in northern NJ, living in a city was a great change of pace. Though I often missed being able to hop on my kayak whenever it got hot out, I found fun in some great museums, like the Academy of Sciences, Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there was always something new to discover. I am so grateful for all that the Zoo and city of Philadelphia had to offer!


Working with the Global Clinical Practice Network


This picture was taken from the Global Clinical Practice Network website.

I had the opportunity to help write a paper about the Global Clinical Practice Network (GCPN) with Dr. Tahilia Rebello, a Research Scientist and Project Coordinator for the WHO Collaborating Centre for Capacity Building and Training in Global Mental Health at Columbia. The GCPN is a practice-based research network made of mental health professionals representing all regions of the world. The GCPN works to reduce the burden of mental health by linking clinicians working to  improve clinical care and health systems for mental and behavioral disorders.

It has been very cool to be a part of this project with Dr. Rebello because up until now, most of the PBRNs have been in non-mental health fields such as primary care. The GCPN is a unique and important online platform that serves to advance clinical care and health systems, specifically related to mental health.

The GCPN was initially created in conjunction with the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to use the internet as a way to involve clinicians around the world. The GCP.Network has assisted in the revision process of the ICD-11 to create a platform for global data collection and research dissemination. The GCPN fits in with other technological platforms that are being used to improve mental health services and care. The GCPN could potentially serve as a vehicle for development, assessment and implementation of those similar tools to provide better care and further advance the field.

The GCPN has created a community of over 12,600 health professionals from over 150 countries. These individuals are all contributing their experience and expertise to enhance the field of mental health and shorten the gap between research and clinical implementation. The GCPN is expanding and by building international research capacity, it will have the ability to take priority issues into the field.

I had the opportunity to assist in writing the introduction and discussion sections of a paper that focuses on trying to determine whether clinicians would be interested in the GCPN as well as whether they had access to the appropriate technological platforms/devices, what are they already doing in terms of technology, and what their behaviors around technology and internet use. Dr. Rebello has been an excellent mentor to me throughout the summer and working on this paper was a great opportunity to work with her and to learn more about GCPN.


Mental Health in a Minute

As an intern for the Global Mental Health Program, I had the opportunity to learn different ways that we can work to improve awareness of mental health issues.  One important way to do this was to create animations called Mental Health Minutes that highlighted important facts about specific mental health and behavioral disorders. Each intern was responsible for creating their own Mental Health Minute. To do this, we had to learn how to use a software called Vyond which assists you in creating settings for different scenes and animating the characters. It was very useful to learn this software. Not only was it fun to create my own animation, but I am sure that I will be able to use the software and skills again in the future to create creative messages about issues of importance.

For this project, each intern chose a mental health disorder to work on. I chose Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) because I have always been very interested in learning about ASD and how it effects the brain and behavior. Although I am unable to share my animation yet, I can share the script that I wrote for it.

I chose to bust common myths about ASD!

Myth #1: People with autism are intellectually disabled.

Fact: Individuals with ASD have normal to high IQs, even though testing them can be difficult and poorly reflect their capabilities.

Myth #2: Autism is caused by vaccines.

Fact: There is no reliable scientific evidence that vaccinations cause autism. There is reliable evidence, however, that skipping vaccines contributes to an increase in preventable and sometimes life-threatening diseases.

Myth #3: People with autism are cold and lack empathy and they are unable to form meaningful relationships.

Fact: Individuals with ASD are as, if not more, empathetic as others, but they may express themselves differently than we might be used to.

How to help: Advocacy, health services, physical programs and interventions are available for individuals and their families. Check out Autism Speaks for more information.


I got my information from the Autism Speaks website and here.



How your liberal arts education strengthens your internship experience

This summer, most of the work that I’ve done has been what’s called “prospecting,” which is the process of finding potential donors to an organization. The difficulty of this task depends on a few factors, including how many donors an organization has already prospected, the notoriety of the organization, and how narrow its mission is.

I was able to use my liberal arts education, which to me means that I was able to think critically about the profile of what a good prospect is, in my time at The Fairness Project. Instead of filtering online for people who had given the largest donations to any political campaign or organization, I filtered based on specific organizations whose missions and values are in line with that of The Fairness Project. Not only did this save me a significant amount of time, but it also got me a lot more people who were more likely to donate to The Fairness Project than the typical political donor would be.

If your internship doesn’t involve prospecting, which is quite likely, there are still a few things you can take away from my experience. The most important one, in my opinion, is that using your critical thinking skills, as honed during your time at Dickinson, will save you time and make your work more efficient.

Finishing your Internship – Thank You Notes

The most important thing, other than experience and exposure to a field, that students receive from an internship is the connections you have made with colleagues. When you finish your internship, I personally feel that thank you notes (or emails if your handwriting as bad as mine) are a great way to leave on a good note. There’s a chance that when your colleagues think about you and your performance, they could think of the thank you note, so they’re worth putting a good amount of time and thinking into.

The tone of the thank you note can vary based on your relationship with the colleague you’re writing it to. However, it should remain professional, so having only inside jokes is probably not the best idea. When I wrote my thank you notes, based on the fact that the office was small and I knew everyone, I tried to refer to learning opportunities I had from the summer involving the colleague I was writing to. For example, I could write to someone thanking them for showing me how to use software during my first week.

In terms of who you decide to write thank you notes to, that’s up to you, but my philosophy on it was that it’s better to write too many thank you notes than to write too few. If people, especially in a small office like I worked in, are talking about your note on the week after you leave, it allows for the opportunity for people who didn’t receive them to feel left out and unappreciated. Since I appreciated and genuinely enjoyed connecting and learning from all of my colleagues, I wrote them each an individualized thank you note.

How to Be a “Superstar” Intern

I saw Hamilton last night… Wow. It really is what everyone is saying. OK—now to the blog post!


Dress to impress. At the Kennedy Center, the dress code is business casual. In other words, you see everything from jeans and polo shirts, to suits and dresses, and everything in-between. Essentially, some individuals dress more formally, while others dress more casually. When you’re an intern, I suggest dressing more on the business formal end (if you can do this, if not, business casual is just fine!).

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Dress professionally—after all, you are in a professional environment. You got this!

Make connections. This might seem obvious and cliché, but from the conversations I have had at the Kennedy Center, many people do not seem to understand what “making connections” actually means. Networking does not just mean talking to your colleagues as they pass your desk and, no, it doesn’t mean sending emails to say “hello.” This is socializing. While socializing is also good, especially with your fellow interns, you need to continue maintaining a professional relationship with your colleagues and supervisors. From my time at the Kennedy Center, I have learned that one of the best ways to make connections is by conducting informational interviews. Not only does this show that you are interested in that person’s line of work, it also shows that you are interested in learning more about different roles, and how that role’s responsibilities relate to your own interests and values.

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Networking is imperative. Don’t be afraid to build and maintain professional relationships. Chances are… people want to hear from you!

Ask questions. When I first began the internship, I thought that I was asking too many questions. But to be perfectly honest with you—you can never ask enough questions. Arriving at a new location, receiving unfamiliar responsibilities, and meeting new people are all parts of the process. Therefore, questions are only beneficial to you, and your own personal and professional development. How else are you going to grow in your craft?

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How do we grow as professionals? We ask questions from those who are experienced!

Show that you are committed. You can show your commitment in many ways. From arriving to work on time, to taking on extra assignments (but don’t overwhelm yourself!) and staying later during your typical work hours if necessary, are all important ways to prove how dedicated and devoted you are to your intern role. Again, sometimes even asking good questions can show your supervisor just how committed you are.

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Show your commitment and dedication. Don’t overwhelm yourself with work, but provide quality work on the projects you undertake.

Always request feedback from your supervisors. I cannot stress this enough. When I submitted my first print brochure, I received a lot of comments—not only from my colleagues, but also from NYC theater producers. While it was difficult to accept their feedback at first, I realized that, in order to grow as a thinker, as a writer, and as an advertiser, I need to acknowledge and reflect on the constructive criticism that I receive. In addition, if you request one-on-one meetings with your supervisor, ask them what they think of your current work ethic. Here is a question that I ask my supervisor during meetings: “What are some things that I have been doing well, and what are some areas of which I could improve?” It can be difficult to hear others’ opinions of your work style, especially if you think you’re doing an amazing job. Nevertheless, seeking out feedback is a life skill that will really contribute to your success in the long run.

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Request constructive criticism always. Don’t be afraid of the outcome. Most of the time (I hope!), your supervisor wants you to succeed!

Push yourself. In other words, if you are already really good at writing emails, interpreting data in graphs, or so forth, talk to your supervisor about taking on a project outside of your comfort zone. Remember—first and foremost, internships are learning experiences. Therefore, traversing uncharted land—areas of which you are unfamiliar—offers you a great opportunity to not only explore new work, but also to take on a worthwhile challenge that could benefit your professional growth. For example, I am not the best at writing print pieces for Ballet/Dance, mainly because I am more familiar with the symphony, opera, and theater realms. Nevertheless, working on the brochure introduced me to an art form of which I would otherwise be unfamiliar. While it may be difficult, I know you can do it. I believe in you!

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Venture into uncharted land and move outside of your comfort zone. You never know what your true passion is until you try it!

Write thank you letters upon your departure from the internship site. Now that I only have two days of the internship left, this has been my current “project.” When my friends ask me, “David, what are things that you should always have with you at college, at work, etc.?”, I always tell them thank-you letters. When you finish a semester of classes and especially an internship, you should take some time to reflect on your experience, and also address the ways in which the professor, supervisor, etc. has opened your eyes to new ways of thinking. My supervisor for the internship, Olivia, is so remarkable. While I admire many things about her, I really appreciate her confidence. For me, I sometimes evade confrontation, even when difficult conversations need to be had. Olivia realizes when things need to be done and she does them. I’m going to make sure I tell her that. No, it doesn’t make you a suck up. It shows that your supervisor really left an impression on you.

Thank-you messages: what to write in a thank-you card

Express your appreciation in words with a letter of gratitude!

Keep in touch. Add your supervisor on LinkedIn, or send an email once or twice a year to “check in.” It may seem “strange” (as I have heard from others), but it is important to keep in touch with people. Remember—you are building your network. In order to maintain these professional relationships, you need to keep in touch. You never know, that person may just be hiring in their department…

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You’ve built the relationships, now you need to maintain them.


Thank you all so much for following me throughout this journey, and thank you for your kind and considerate messages. I am more than happy to hear from you and/or offer further tips on tackling your internship. You can reach out to me at Until then, I wish you all the best, and hope that your internship experience inspires you to make a positive difference, and empowers you to do your best work always.


White Handed Gibbons!

Animals are pretty weird, and often possess behaviors that are surprising to some humans. For example, many primates have a dominant hand, just like humans and certain species of tree frogs have been known to communicate using symbols they form with their forefeet. Upon starting my internship, I was told that I would need to conduct an observational study on any behavior in relation to any animal at the zoo. At first, I really struggled to choose an animal, not really knowing too many interesting facts about the animals at the zoo. But, one day when I was walking through the primate building, I found myself staring at a family of small apes climbing and swinging effortlessly through their multilayered exhibit, the white handed gibbons.

At the zoo, we have a family of four, Mercury, the father, Pheonice, the mother and their two sons, Orien (age 4) and Aries (age 2). These animals are considered lesser apes due to their size, and are often overlooked when guests see the gorillas across the way, but they are incredible! These primates are native southeast Asia, from southern China to Indonesia and weigh about 7-12 pounds. White handed gibbons are the most acrobatic primate and full of energy, making them incredibly entertaining to conduct a behavioral study on. I chose them, knowing I wanted to study something in regard to their family structure and after a few hours of watching, decided to study who initiates play more frequently, Aries or Orien, hypothesizing that Aries would, being the younger sibling.

Throughout my time, I observed for an hour per day, keeping an ethogram marking who initiated play, and what type of play was being initiated. The types of play ranged from tag, play wrestling and biting and food stealing. Honestly, not every single moment was exciting, during the 95+ degree days, neither me or the gibbons wanted to think about moving, and I wound up collecting little to no data on those days.

Approaching the end of my internship, I started to count up my tallies and figure out who was truly initiating play more frequently. Contradicting my hypothesis, Orien initiated play more times overall. Within the different types of play, Orien was more likely to initiate tag, while Aries would initiate wrestling and biting, Aries also was the only gibbon to be guilty of food stealing.

These observations can be helpful in understanding the family structure of this family, and can help record behavioral changes when an animal becomes stressed. I’ve enjoyed my experience with these animals, and have gotten to know them quite well from their physical appearance to their behavioral quirks. I’ll definitely be back to visit sometime in the future, and maybe next time Orien and Aries will have another younger sibling to pick on!



Pictures from the Summer


HGTV Week 10- Hard Work for Something

This was my last week at HGTV, and I’ve absolutely loved having a creative and logistical internship.  My boss gave me some really fun Christmas tasks to work on involving matching wrapping papers with ribbons for a photo shoot, and I had to tie up a lot of loose ends with PR representatives I was mid-transaction with before I left.  But the best part about this week was seeing some of my hard work from the summer be put into action.

On Wednesday I had to go to the Container Store to pick out tons of different sized gift boxes that were to be used for a Christmas photo shoot coming up.  It took me a long time to locate all the specific sizes we needed, I was rushing to get back to the office before a meeting I wanted to sit in on, and I ended up having an entire cart full of items I needed to lug onto the subway back to work.  When I was checking out, not in the greatest mood, it was kind of cool to see our latest issue of HGTV magazine with my name in it on the rack where I was unloading all the boxes.  Somehow it made my annoying task seem like it was worth a little bit more.

The magazine on display while I was running an errand for the photo shoot

The magazine on display while I was running an errand for a photo shoot   


The most gratifying thing to see this week was seeing the story I have been working a lot on be put into a mock-up.  Below are pictures I took of the original mock-ups with notes written all over it from a meeting with my boss.  It’s so cool to see everything that started from my initial research and presentation boards be put into a spread that looks like what it’ll sort of look like when the November issue is published.  Since I’m leaving before I’ll get to see my work put into final layout, it’ll be such a great surprise to see the published issue with my work in it, especially since I really experienced first hand all the work that went into each stage of the story’s production and all the logistical work I did behind the scenes to obtain credit and photo information from each individual paint and product used.

Overall, my experience at HGTV gave me a ton of insight into all that’s involved in the world of magazine publishing.