Summer Internships 2018

Engage. Reflect. Integrate. #DsonIntern

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The Jordanian way

As my internship, and the summer, winds down many of the foreigners (ijanib) that I have met this summer have left, as well as Jordanian students who study outside Jordan. This has led me to spend my weekends with the rest of my friends how many Jordanian youth spend their time. Just hanging out at cafes playing cards or chilling on the street not really doing anything, instead of going to clubs, bars, or events. It is much more boring but also feels more authentic and more characteristic of the youth here. I have got to talking with my Jordanian friends and acquaintances about things such as life and the future. Many youth in Jordan, like in the United States, do not have a lot of hopes for the future. Youth unemployment is extremely high and Amman is the most expensive city in the Arab world, with respect to the level of salaries. Austerity measures forced on the country by the IMF and World Bank have only made the situation worse in the past years. Many youth that can leave are leaving, and those that cannot leave want to leave. Many of them want to go to the United States, Turkey, or the Gulf. One of the few things Jordanians have to be optimistic about is the relative security and stability the country enjoys compared to the rest of the region.

This relates to my research of the situation in the Arab world post-Arab ‘Spring’. The Arab Spring was first and foremost a reaction against these austerity measures forced upon the region by the international organizations and the United States, who support(ed) many of these repressive regimes in the region. The ironic thing is that many youth want to go to the United States, which bears responsibility for the economic and political situation in the region. However, many youth in the United States also have immense fears and anxiety about their own futures, only exacerbated under the current administration. Change in the region will be brought by the youth fighting against these powerful  institutions backed by the United States, and not by the US itself, as is so often claimed.

The Unexpected

It has been my pleasure to work with the Business Intelligence team of AhaMove and learn more about data analytics, thanks to the internship grant and the benevolence of the donors. The internship I have this summer has brought me several opportunities with which I gain more insights of the career path that I follow and understand myself as well. However, the more I know about the professional life, the more I feel anxious of my future in the next two years of college and even after graduation.

People often call it mid-college life crisis and I’m sure it’s hitting me right now: not quite sure of what to do next, which career track is right and what the future holds for me. Working on daily tasks and projects, I felt lost and frustrated sometimes because of my lack of technical skills and hands-on experiences, which eventually slowed down my motivation and progress. As I mentioned in previous posts, daily tasks in data analytics can turn out really ambiguous and unclear, especially when the ideas and assignments are vaguely given. Even when data analysts and scientists invest a lot of time and effort in researching objectives and finding key results, it doesn’t mean that the problems will be solved or finished in an optimal way. For a beginner like me, this frustration is inevitable and thus a competent background of data will enrich my experiences in my field of interest and familiarize myself with occupational stress.

Some people may think that I still have plenty of time to broaden my knowledge of this field and leverage my skills but I think that it is time for me to work harder, not only to prepare for my future career but also train my perseverance to adapt to different levels of work pressure. I soon realize that motivation is not the key of success as it can easily go up and down in response to both internal and external factors. From my point of view and experience, success is actually strengthened by self-discipline and habits that support the ultimate goals. Creating a habit of learning technical and personal skills beside school work everyday would be an effective way allowing me to transform challenges into opportunities. Along with the internship and mentorship I have at AhaMove, I can seek advice from the professionals and discuss my future career more insightfully.

Finding my own path may look like being a little lost but I’m sure that it will enable me to understand myself and boost up the drive to keep creating. Rather than overthinking about things that may or may not happen in the future, I decide to focus on enjoying my life to the fullest and improving myself at the same time, here and now. So if you are also feeling lost on your way, smash your fear and grow beyond.

My research project for this summer – NeuroScreen

This summer I have been working on a research project with my mentor, Dr. Reuben Robbins. Dr. Robbins is a clinical psychologist who is interested in developing and testing technology-based interventions to try and create positive health outcomes for individuals living with HIV. I have enjoyed participating in his research and to be a member of his research team. I have learned more about HIV and how it affects the brain, especially in adolescents.

Perinatally exposed HIV positive adolescents suffer from many life long effects as a result of their HIV status. One important detrimental effects faced by these adolescents is neurocognitive impairment (NCI). This impairment most commonly affects things like working memory, executive functioning and processing speed.

The most important step in addressing NCI is detecting and diagnosing it effectively so that these individuals are provided necessary support and treatment. However, this is a lot easier said than done. In South Africa, there are very few neurocognitive and screening tests available. The ones that do exist require highly trained people to conduct the tests, take several hours to administer and are expensive. Furthermore, NCI tests developed in the US or Europe may suffer from cultural biases and fail to predict real-world outcomes in places such as South Africa.

To address many of these challenges, Dr. Robbins has created an app called NeuroScreen. This app has been designed for Android devices to assess and screen for NCI. The app has been designed so that non-expert healthcare personnel are able to administer it in clinical settings. The app contains nine tests assessing processing speed, executive functioning, working memory, verbal memory, and motor speed. The app is highly automated and requires minimal training.

In 2018, Dr. Robbins was awarded a federal research grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to determine the validity of NeuroScreen. Throughout the summer, I have been helping Dr. Robbins work to refine the tool that will be used to assess NCI among perinatally exposed HIV positive adolescents in South Africa.  I have been able to work closely with the questionnaires that will be uploaded to the app and used in the field. I have been able to learn about the important measures that assess different parts of neurocognitive functioning. I am very excited because the app will go live in the next month or two when Dr. Robbins returns to South Africa and the study will begin to assess the adolescents.

This opportunity to work directly on a research project that is going into the field and can make a measurable difference in the lives of HIV positive individuals, is quite rewarding. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Robbins and his research team.

End of my Global Mental Health Program internship



These two pictures are of our Global Mental Health interns! You can learn more about this year’s interns on the Global Mental Health Programs website. I was very fortunate to have been able to work with such an incredible group of students. I was really able to get to know their varied interests and to learn about their different backgrounds and what led them here to work with mental health. I am sad to say that my time at the Global Mental Health Program has come to an end. This has been such a great learning experience and I am so grateful to have received a grant from Dickinson so that I was able to spend my summer with the GMHP.

While the official intern program ended on August 2nd, I decided to extend my time for an additional week since I enjoyed my time with my research mentor and his team so much.

sabrina, karina and i

This is a picture of me with Dr. Sabrina Hermosilla and Karina Hickey, two of our supervisors for the Global Mental Health Program. Dr. Hermosilla and Karina led most of our meetings and professional development seminars and were incredible mentors.

It was really amazing to work with both of them this summer. Dr. Hermosilla has a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) as well as PhD in Epidemiology from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University Medical Center. Karina is from Australia and currently is the Communications and Publications Coordinator for the Global Mental Health Program.


More Translations…More Practice

Throughout my time with IACC Texas I have done so many translations that I have lost count of how many in total I have done this summer. It was a variety of documents, some of them where pretty easy to make and others were very difficult. Some would take me 30 minutes, while other will take me two days of work.

I still remember my first translation, I was very nervous when doing it. Obviously, everyone was telling me to try my best and if I didn’t know something to just skip it and they would help me. But I was the one pushing myself to not only try, but to do my very best. I liked the challenge that I was getting, not only was it one of my jobs as an intern, but I knew that I was going to prepare me for the future. I knew that it will help me throughout my experience abroad, since I I will be writing and reading much more in Italian, therefore I needed all the practice I could get.

No lie, at first it was a struggle, I was mixing up some words and I would think it was too hard to do, but eventually I got the hang of it. I was doing Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses/Certificates in less time and I was able to take my time with other documents such as financial statements, divorce papers and resumes without being too frustrated since I had much practice with the language.

Translating from English to Italian or from Italian to English, isn’t easy but with practice it was possible.


Humans Say the Darnedest Things…

This post includes a compilation of funny things I’ve heard while on the clock:

There is no doubt that our baby giraffe is bringing many curious and excited guests to the African Plains region of our zoo. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had interns stationed all along the giraffe exhibit to tell everyone about the baby, Beau. I was stationed at this location when a young guest comes up to me and asks, with the utmost confidence, “How old was he when he was born?” I turned to the guest, puzzled and kindly asked what he meant. He looked confused, and with a furrowed brow let out a long, “Uhhhhhh mom?” It turned out he meant to ask how tall the giraffe was when he was born!

A common statement made by guest (particularly when they see a red panda) is, “I WANT ONE!”. Understandably, this type of statement is one that we discourage at the zoo. When guests make this statement, it is important to remind them that it is a wild animal and they likely do not have the time or resources to provide that animal with a quality life. For example, the red panda’s diet consists of 90% bamboo, so unless there is a forest of bamboo in the backyard, the panda will not survive. As individuals working to improve the guest experience, comments like these are always responded to in the most positive way, making guests think about the animals as wild and not comparing them to their pet dog.

Lastly, at the zoo, one of our goals is for they animals to act as close as they would in the wild as possible. This is a wonderful thing, though it gets a little strange when it happens in front of young children. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “…Mom…what are they doing?” I could probably buy myself a nice new pair of sunglasses. A few weeks ago, things went a little differently. I was standing in our reptile exercise yard and, to the left of me, the Galapagos tortoises were mating. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this happen, but it is VERY obvious when it is. A young girl, probably about 6 years old, ran up to me and yelled in front of a crowd of other children, “THOSE TORTOISES ARE MAKING BABIES!” Struggling to hold in my laughter and shocked that she actually referred to them as a tortoise and not a turtle, I responded, enthusiastically, “Really? That’s wonderful! Here at the zoo, sometimes we call that ~calling the stork~” and the moms laughed and I continued my discussion about the red-footed tortoise in the yard.


Week 10

Vegetables Are Good!

The kids at Galen Terrace trying some kale and cucumbers from their garden.

Trying to get kids to eat vegetables isn’t always easy. I’m fairly certain its impossible for kids to actually enjoy kale. However, having the opportunity to work with kids like I have at Galen Terrace has allowed me to convince some of them that vegetables aren’t all that bad.

I have been able to work with these kids for about five weeks now. At the beginning of that time, we would go out into the garden and they thought everything was lettuce. Some of them had been out to the garden with their parents, but to most of them, the garden was full of bees and weird plants, and they didn’t associate that with food you eat. Over the course of these few weeks, that began to change.

We began to harvest the ripe vegetables each week for snacks. The kids began to get more and more comfortable out in the garden and could remember the names of plants! They even began to stop freaking out near the bees and bugs in the garden.  It started with some tastes of kale, which no one liked. Then we moved on to cucumbers, which we a big hit. Finally, the tomatoes began to ripen. This last week I joined the kids in the garden, I brought along mozzarella cheese. I wanted to make the ripe new cherry tomatoes as delicious as possible, so with the tomatoes, some basil, and the mozzarella, I made some simple caprese  salad. Some of the kids loved it, some not so much, but I felt I had gotten a victory. I was able to show these kids that plants weren’t just plants in a garden, they were vegetables. Amazing food was waiting right outside their doors, and now they had a little peak into what they could do with it.

Presentation Of Growth (POG)

At the end of the summer Breakthrough teaching fellows, IC, and staff do  presentations of growth.  POGs are meant to help you reflect on your time at breakthrough and how you have changed or grown. Last summer I made a video for my growth presentation. However this summer, I decided to just write down my thoughts and verbally share them.

Here is my POG:

This summer was more challenging than I was expecting. This summer was the complete opposite of last summer. It is hard to not compare last summer to this summer when last summer I had everything. A lot of my mornings  this summer it  was hard to get up and come to work and it  wasn’t because of the kids or my co workers. It  was the fact that I was not given the support I need.

The best part of last summer was being able to grow everyday. learn from my mistakes and make adjustment the next day. I felt like I was making the right steps to become the teacher I dreamed of becoming. This summer I can’t say the same.

In fact, writing this POG is very difficult for me because I couldn’t think of ways in which I grew and it  is very hard to turn it  positive like I have been advised to do but i guess if i have grown some how it  is because of the difficult situations I encountered this summer.

If anything I can  I strengthen my problem solving skills by making adjustments and  making important decisions without the support of someone to troubleshoot for me.

I guess the biggest thing i can take away this summer is that sometimes as a teacher i am not going to have the support of the people above me. I am going to have to deal with difficult situations and difficult people and put up with it.

This summer has been the most uncomfortable i have ever felt. Not even the problematic white people at my school have made me feel the way i have. I felt like my problems this summer were minimal and not worth immediate action.  Nothing was being done to support me  in the way that i should have been.

The lack of support  I received then came into my classroom and my interactions with the kids. My one regret this summer is being too wrapped up my feelings and all my issues, that I didn’t have the time to be fully engaged with my kids.

It  has nothing to do with my responsibility as grade team leader, with my students, or co-workers. I just wasn’t able to do an IC’s Job the whole summer. I need feedback to grow. I need support to grow. I need an appropriate environment to grow. This summer this has not been the environment to promote my growth.

HGTV Week 9- Collaboration

The story I’ve been working on was in its next stages this week.  Once the creative part was mostly approved, I dropped temporary images of all the products we are using onto the magazine’s server so that the Art Director could create a mock-up–this is basically a rough draft of what the final spread will look like, with not-final images and dummy text.  It was pretty cool seeing the work I had done so far appear on what is starting to look like real story in a magazine, rather than just images and credits on a presentation board.  On Tuesday, I had another meeting to go over these mock-ups, and this time the Editor-in-Chief was there.  She went through all the spreads, cut two of them out altogether, and decided to add another room to the mix.  She went through a stack of other options with the Creative Director and chose another component I had to work on.

In addition to working on another presentation board, I had to start “calling-in” products for the parts of the story that had already been approved.  This means that I created a spreadsheet that I shared with the Market and Lifestyle Directors who are the technical producers of this story.  Even though they handed the task over to me, it’s still important that they are up-to-date with where things are.  In the sheet, I have every item that’s in the story along with a link and contact.  I then contacted every single PR representative from each of the companies requesting a credit sheet, a high res “silo” (quality photo of the product against a white background), and a physical sample request from items that we have to photograph ourselves.  All day for the rest of the week as I was working on other tasks, whenever I got a response from one of the partner companies, I would have to drop the credit sheets on the server for the fact-checkers, drop high res images in another folder for the photo department, and keep track of this information as well as shipping tracking in my spread sheet.

My spread sheet on the screen, and one of the mock-ups on my desk with notes written by my boss on it

My spread sheet on the screen, and one of the mock-ups on my desk with notes written by my boss on it

I really learned how important it is to deal with emails and calls right away or else things can get easily confused.  No matter what I was doing, if a PR rep sent me a question, a credit sheet, or images, I had to respond to them and file their materials right away before getting confused or forgetting about them altogether.  While working on my story, I still had other tasks to do as well.  For example, I had been helping my other boss in the Lifestyle Department with a Christmas story involving dozens of different samples of wrapping paper that I had to call in from companies who featured their new designs in Lookbooks only, as their newest collections aren’t on sale yet.  While communicating with different partner companies, getting countless deliveries of wrapping paper to my desk each day, tracking shipping, keeping track of which paper I lent to the photo department to scan and which ones are set aside for the photo shoot next week, things could have easily gotten jumbled with my other story.  Keeping my spread sheet updated became imperative to staying both organized and sane.  On Fridays I intern with another magazine on a different floor of the magazine; this week, I came down to HGTV both during my lunch break and at the end of the day to drop all the materials that had been sent to me during the day as well as send shipping information to companies that I needed to have send products in as soon as possible before the photo shoot.

Especially in the publishing industry where there are less staff members doing more tasks to save on costs, I gained a new kind of respect for my coworkers and all that they have to keep track of each day.

Where to look for an Internship?

Our Business Intelligence team at AhaMove

Initially this was not one of the topics I planned to write a blog on. I am an experienced recruiter, nor the path leading to my current internship is a typical and easily visible one for everyone to follow.

Still, I have learned a lot after what I have been through, and therefore hope that my experience could be more or less helpful for someone who is also starting their professional career.

From my experience, there are three sources which a student can keep an eye on to look for an internship. The first – and also the most distant – is the Internet. Yes, everything nowadays can be found on the Internet. Internship-searching sites are now everywhere. Websites like LinkedIn and connect employers and candidates from all around the world, making the search for a job easier than ever. One search for keywords “data science internship” on Google brings around 93 million results. Even if only 1% of those results are useful, they are already more than enough for you to look at.

It was through LinkedIn that I first heard about AhaMove, the organization I am currently interning at. Therefore, personally this is a very useful source that has worked for me!

The second source is academic. Almost every college and university now has a career center in which students can ask for help on their CVs, learn about professional tips, and, most importantly, connect with alumni. Yes, alumni are the second source a student can look at for a job opportunity. They are employers or employees who were once students and in need of support just like you, so most of the times they understand and are very eager to help.

Though I have not used academic relationship in finding an internship, this source has been more than important to me. I came to Dickinson Career Center regularly to ask for feedbacks on my resume. More importantly, thanks to Dickinson’s internship grant I have been able to take on this wonderful opportunity at AhaMove, so I definitely recommend this second source anyone looking for internship.

Finally, the last source is personal. Look at your personal circle, the people around you, the connections you have made in college, in high school, around your home, or at the summer camp. Some of them may be recruiters looking for suitable candidates, while others are people who know the recruiters mentioned above. Some people may shy away from asking their personal connections for a job opportunity, but that’s a mistake. You are not asking for a job or an internship, you are only asking for an opportunity. If you are not a good fit for their organization, then so be it – nobody loses anything. But if you are, that’s totally a win-win situation. The key here is to always be confident, honest, and thankful no matter what the result is.

These three sources are from my personal experience. They are listed in the decreasing order of abundance and difficulty, with the first source having the largest number of opportunities for you to look at, but also being the most difficult to secure one. However, they are only based on my limited experience and I really wish to know more about professional opportunities and tips, so if you know about any other sources that will be helpful in finding and securing an internship please feel free to comment below!