A Postcard From: Xinyan Wang ’18

Name: Xinyan Wang
Class Year: 2018
Major: French Literature and Francophone Studies
Hometown: Tianjin, China

Internship Placement: Supportive Housing Network of NY/Fresh Films
Job Title: Internship with the Chief Digital Officer
Location: New York, N.Y.

I helped to prepare and participated in one of the largest annual conferences that the Supportive Housing Network holds in the year three days into my internship. This experience was both challenging and exciting. I assisted Sarah, my supervisor and also the Chief Digital Officer at Network, to communicate with the AV team that assisted and recorded our conference, solved some technical problems on the day of conference, and uploaded the recordings of all the conferences to the YouTube Channel of the Network. After the conference, I helped offering and taking down the suggestions to restructure the official website of the Network, and update the website every day.

For Sarah’s documentary project, I did some research for her shooting later this year in China. She is making a documentary on Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) so I did my research on relevant doctors studying FMT in China and possible social media platforms that the film team could look for Chinese patients that are taking FMT.

The reason that I applied to this internship is that I felt it is THE perfect choice for me. I have deep passion in filmmaking and film studies and I’ve taken a documentary course at Haverford which aroused my interest in documentary films. In addition, I am also passionate about nonprofit organizations. I volunteered in an educational nonprofit organization last summer and the experience was memorable. Therefore, when I saw this opportunity, which is a combination of the two things that I’m passionate about, I knew that this is exactly what I’ve been looking for as an internship.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship is my supervisor! She is such a gorgeous person! I feel so lucky and grateful to have her as my supervisor. I learn from her every single day and I mean it. I not only learn how to do the technical things in my work from her, but more importantly, I learn how to communicate with people, how to be organized, and how to navigate between jobs and family. She values my opinion in every decision she made. She not only engages me in her work at Supportive Housing Network and her documentary project, but she also encourages and supports my independent project. Under her support, I started my independent short film project during my internship and got much valuable advice from her. She is an honorable, strong woman.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I got a deeper understanding of the topic of Sarah’s documentary, a microbiological one, after doing researche for her. I’d never learned about Fecal Microbiota Transplant before and microbiology has never been this close to me. Helping Sarah recruiting patients online through social media platforms, I learned about the experiences of some of the patients and how something I barely knew about had such great impact on their and their children’s lives. This experience is shocking for me.

Another thing I’ve never thought that I would start thinking about after my internship with Sarah is my attitude about my life. Under the protection and support of my parents, I never ever imagined my without them, or in a new family. Getting to know Sarah’s family made me start considering myself as an individual that will have my own life independent of my previous family. What kind of life I want to live? What are some expectations I have for my future family? I started to wonder about these questions. These are absolutely things I should keep ruminating as my life goes and I can’t tell right now what my final decision would be.

 

A Postcard From: Julia Lin ’17

Name: Julia Lin
Class Year: 2017
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Westchester, N.Y.

Internship Placement: Mathematics Department, Bryn Mawr College
Job Title: Research Associate (Summer Research)
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

I’m studying the Black Scholes option pricing formula under Professor Stromquist. The Black Scholes formula is used to determine the value of European-style stock options given parameters such as current stock prices, expected dividends, the price of the option, expected interest rates, time to expiration and expected volatility. Our goal is to see if this theoretical formula can be applied to current day stock portfolios to generate a profit.

Why did you apply for this internship?

One reason I decided to do Summer Research in math was because I wanted to see if I liked math enough to consider going to graduate school. Another reason was because I wanted a chance to explore financial modeling. I’m also very happy to be back on campus for the summer.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

For this project, I’ve been primarily using Excel, but have also been learning Visual Basic in order to scrape data from the web and update my results in real-time.

Since I usually only meet with my professor once a week, I’m given a lot of freedom and responsibility to direct my own research. As a result, I’ve been forced to operate on my own schedule, do the necessary research on my own, and only reaching out to my professor to update on what I am doing, or for more guidance.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Three adjectives:

1. Thought-provoking
2. Stimulating
3. Rewarding

Three nouns:

1. Exploration
2. Research
3. Responsibility

A Postcard From: Isabella Nugent ’18

Name: Isabella Nugent
Class Year: 2018
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Green Brook, N.J.

Internship Placement: The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Job Title: Archival Research Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

Over the course of the summer, I conducted archival research to inform the curation/renovation of the Penn Museum’s African galleries. Under the leadership of advisory curator Dr. Monique Scott, I worked within a team of three Bryn Mawr students/alumni to conduct visitor research studies and investigate how “Africa” has been historically represented in the Penn Museum and in similar institutions.

However, the bulk of my time has been spent assisting the head curator, Dr. Tufuku Zuberi, gather provenance information for the objects intended for the future exhibition. Dr. Zuberi has a bold vision for the renovated galleries and intends to explore the complicated provenance of the collection. Together, our team dug through the Penn Museum’s archives to establish how the objects in the African galleries arrived at the museum with a focus on uncovering their colonial histories. We traced objects back from their creation and saw how they traded hands from the artist to dealers, tourists, ethnographers, and military leaders through letters, receipts, and photographs. I can’t reveal too much about our findings as the exhibition is still being developed, but I am extremely excited for Dr. Zuberi’s vision and to see the gallery opening.

Why did you apply for this internship?

When I was part of the Dalun-BiCo Summer Action Research Fellowship the summer after my freshman year, part of our experience included a visit to the African galleries in the Penn Museum. I was deeply disturbed by the language and presentation of objects in the “Imagine Africa” exhibit as it seemed to treat the continent of Africa as an exotic monolith. When I heard of the opportunity to work under Dr. Monique Scott to conduct research for the renovated galleries, I leapt at the opportunity. I wanted to be part of the team that would radically change the exhibit. Overall, I am extremely grateful for Museum Studies Program for the incredible experience I had working at the Penn Museum this summer.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I loved so many aspects about this internship, from getting to learn from the wonderful Monique Scott to the loveliness of the other interns to the pure fun of being in a museum all day. However, what I appreciated most was being able to work with incredible archival materials. Just the feeling of being able to piece a complicated story together was such a fun and revealing experience and I never got over the shock of being able to hold such an important letter or photo in my own hands. This experience fueled my love for history and my belief in the importance of archival work.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?


I did not expect to this internship to be as hands-on as it was and I was pleasantly surprised. At other internships, interns are delegated menial tasks and learn little from their experience. This was not the case for us. We communicated directly with the head curator and we were entrusted with important research responsibilities. I was able to work with invaluable archival materials and I was given so much support every step of the way. This level of trust and freedom is what makes this internship experience stand out from every other.

A Postcard From: Emma Rutenberg ’19

Name: Emma Rutenberg
Class Year: 2019
Major: History
Hometown: Philadelphia

Internship Placement: American Philosophical Society Museum
Job Title: Curatorial Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

The American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned institution in the United States, and was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 on the basis of promoting useful knowledge through extensive and innovative research in the sciences and humanities. The Society will celebrate its 275th anniversary next year, and the upcoming exhibition will focus on APS Members and the many important contributions they have made to their respective fields. I have been conducting research on a vast array of objects and manuscript collections related to such diverse fields as early American history, geology, exploration, industry, astrophysics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and archaeology. This research will help to determine what items, artifacts, events, or people the Society will showcase in the exhibition.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I’m a History major with two minors in Classical & Near Eastern Archaeology as well as Museum Studies, so museum experience is extremely important in my life and in my future careers. I hadn’t had much exposure to Museum Studies before transferring to Bryn Mawr last fall (in 2016), so I wanted a great internship that would give me incredible experience in research, archival work, documentation, curatorial duties, and ways to show history to the broader public.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

My entire experience at Bryn Mawr has been incredible so far, and the search for my internship was one of the most salient ways I was reminded of Bryn Mawr’s special, unique, and uplifting community. I had no real experience in applying for academic-related jobs, having only ever worked retail before, but the LILAC people I met with were so incredibly helpful and reassuring when it came time for me to write my updated resume and cover letter as well as search the database for internships. On top of that, I met with Monique Scott, director of Museum Studies at Bryn Mawr, who talked to me about the importance of museums in academia and in life. From her personal connection to Diana Marsh—one of the Mellon Fellows at the American Philosophical Society—she was able to give me a lot of insight about the internship, and simultaneously encouraged me to apply for it and supported me through the process, which I’m so thankful for.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

Many of the disciplines I’m researching are areas of study I’ve actually never been exposed to but have always admired from afar, making the experience constantly rewarding and always very interesting. Most of the classes I take have more to do with ancient civilizations and history, so I normally don’t have the time or opportunity to research things like terrestrial magnetism, astronomy, or space exploration in such depth, and it is extremely fulfilling. By reading through rare archival manuscript collections, I’ve been introduced to so many incredible materials, people, and events that have come from the American Philosophical Society, as well as the importance of displaying these people and ideas to the general public.

I’ve also learned so much about the types of work that occur in museums and libraries — whether that involves documenting sources, handling rare and delicate items, going down rabbit holes to find thematic connections between people or events, or simply brainstorming ways to showcase important ideas in a museum exhibition. I feel that the work we’re doing is important, and it also exposes us to the very real and prominent issues of racism, misogyny, and colonialist mindsets that are inherently intertwined into the histories of old, learned institutions such as the APS. In these ways, I have loved the feeling of being able to have an effect on the way people will be able to view, learn about, and connect with history from many eras and disciplines.

A Postcard From: Jenisha Stapleton ’19

Name: Jenisha Stapleton
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology
Hometown: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Internship Placement: Epidemiology Division, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health
Job Title: Summer Intern with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program Coordinator
Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Screenshot of the beginning of my first educational video.

Self-portrait with one of the Zika posters in the office.

What’s happening at your internship? 

As an intern with the Epidemiology Division of the VI Department of Health, my primary program focus is working with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance Program (VPDSP), whose goals include increasing provider participation in reporting and implementing standardized practices. The program is in the process of being launched and my principal responsibilities entail developing content for the VPDSP newsletter and website. This includes creating educational scripts and short videos. So far, I have completed and recorded my first video, which guides health providers on how to properly fill out the Notification of Infectious Diseases form. I am working towards completing scripts on other topics related to the program or overall division.

Why did you apply for this internship? 

My interest in epidemiology and public health along with my fondness for my home island inspired me to contact the Territorial Epidemiologist and create this internship opportunity. After following the state of the Zika virus in the U.S. Virgin Islands and learning that the majority of the cases came from my home island of St. Thomas, I was compelled to take action and this internship is a result of my initial concern and enthusiasm. This internship is helping to facilitate my growth as a young professional, better define my long-term career goals, and do work that will influence the community of my native island.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you? 

Learning to use software and programs, such as website/newsletter creators and video makers, has been challenging yet fun. Through trial and error and Google, of course, I have been able to gain an understanding of how to use these various programs. As I continue using them, I will become more familiar with various features and functions. This is helping to develop my technical skills, which in the future, I will be able to apply to for assignments. Being able to communicate and present information using different platforms is useful in this age and helps to appeal to a greater audience.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

In addition to doing work in launching the VPD surveillance program which will ultimately impact my community, I am grateful for the opportunity to receive mentorship and network with my supervisors and everyone on the team. They have shared their journeys to epidemiology and public health, which has informed my personal career path and has influenced my decision to pursue research opportunities and also a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology.

 

A Postcard From: Tara Wadhwani ’18

Name: Tara Wadhwani
Class Year: 2018
Major: Political Science, French
Hometown: Pune, India

Internship Placement: The Nationalities Service Center
Job Title: Resettlement and Community Integration Intern
Location: Philadelphia

My role at the nationalities Service Center has been versatile, and I get to work on a really diverse variety of projects.

I started out mostly planning events that The Nationalities Service Center (NSC) was hosting, including a press conference in honor of World Refugee Day, as well as a World Refugee Day festival which took place in the City Hall courtyard. I’ve also been involved in client airport pickups and home visits, where we pick newly arrived refugees up from the airport and take them to their new apartments. I’ve also been doing a lot of French interpretations to help our clients communicate with their case managers, and vice versa.

My most consistent project has been working to gather resources for LGBT+ refugees, and helping to lay the foundations of a weekly support group for this community, who are among the most vulnerable clients at NSC.

I applied to this internship because I saw it as an opportunity to explore the ways in which nonprofits can work to address the needs of their diverse client-base, taking into account the different identities and intersections of identity using their services.

I was really fortunate that the coordinators of Summer of Service were in contact with my supervisor and knew my interests well enough to be able to connect me with her. Summer of Service was a great support system for me, and it was nice having Ellie and Vippy as a resource while I was stressed about finding a placement. I also really liked that NSC is located in Center City Philadelphia, and I got to know and explore the city much more than I ever had before, despite the fact that I am going into my senior year.

The biggest challenge I have faced at my internship is remaining culturally conscious and competent while spending time with the clients, especially during the LGBT+ support group. Because the populations NSC works with are often survivors of torture, human trafficking, and other trauma-inducing experiences, I aimed to listen intently, offer support, while still maintaining professional boundaries. Also, when discussing LGBT+ specific issues, I tried my best to refrain from imposing my own culturally specific understanding of these issues, and be open to the clients’ individual perspectives

A Postcard From: Meghna Patny ’18

Name: Meghna Patny
Class Year: 2018
Major: Psychology and Spanish
Hometown: Short Hills, N.J.

Internship Placement: Puentes Hacia el Futuro
Job Title: Tutor
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

At this internship, I am working with other tutors as teachers in a bilingual classroom with elementary school students. All of them are of Spanish-speaking backgrounds and are bilingual in English and Spanish. As a tutor, it is my responsibility to encourage and assist the students with their learning and design lessons in which their reading and writing skills are applied. Often, it is a challenge to get the students engaged in schoolwork, especially during the summer. For this reason, we try to add as many “non-academic” activities as possible. For example, we have art lessons once a week in which students are given an opportunity to develop a different part of the brain. Other days, we challenge the students with scrabble competitions. Overall, the kids seem to enjoy it and gain a lot from it. As one of the tutors in the classroom, I admit that it can sometimes be a bit chaotic working with so many young people, but in the end, I feel it is a very rewarding way to spend my time.

Why did you apply for this internship?

After graduation, I hope to work as a teacher with this population in perhaps a bilingual classroom. Therefore, when I read the description of this internship, I was immediately attracted to it! I am so glad that I did apply, as this is something that aligns almost perfectly with my long-term goals. In fact, working in this position has further solidified these goals; I feel quite certain that this is something that I would love to continue in the future.

Another factor that particularly interested me in this internship was the fact that the interns would be the lead teachers in the classroom. We are not simply teacher assistants, but rather the teachers themselves. This gave a unique experience of teaching that is often not possible to do during the school year and can only be done during the summer. Another factor that is only possible during the summer is the fact that we can go on field trips every week. Learning in a classroom is often limiting, but getting the opportunity to see what the students learn in the field is simply not an option during the school year with only one teacher in the classroom.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

As cliché as it might sound, my favorite part of this internship is the students. They are the reason that I am so excited to go to work every morning. The students are often eager to learn and that makes teaching them so easy. The days they are not active, it is so exciting to play games that make them energized. Sometimes they surprise me with the amount of insight they have on so many important topics, and I can forget that they are only nine or 10 years old. Other times, they act like silly preteens and that is just as fun! They remind me to have fun even as an adult.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

One thing that I did not expect to learn with this internship was how to collaborate with other people. I knew that there would be several tutors in each classroom, but I had not anticipated having so many disagreements in the methods we used. I learned about many different perspectives on several topics that had to do with the students. Because I have had a lot of experience working as a teacher, I thought certain aspects of the internship would be simple. However, working with the other tutors showed me different angles to the same issue, some of which I would have never thought of on my own. I am glad that there are so many people to learn from, as it is making me a better tutor.

A Postcard From: Connie Lam ’18

Name: Connie Lam
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Malden, Mass.

Internship Placement: Boston University Medical Campus Ophthalmology Department
Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Location: Boston, Mass.

What’s happening at your internship? 

I currently intern at BU Medical in the ophthalmology department under a professor whose focus area is in glaucoma. The project that I am working on is a 3D reconstruction project, meaning that thousands of pictures are taken of each section of the eye and in each of the slides, I trace cells and giant vacuoles and mark pores in order to better understand how glaucoma exists through piecing together each of the slides together to create a 3D image.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because optometry was something that I was thinking about going into for a couple years now and this would be a way for me to learn more about the eyes and see if this is something that I could see myself doing in the future. I chose this specific professor because I knew that glaucoma was a specific eye disease that I wanted to focus on as my grandmother has glaucoma, and that was what had initially got me interested in optometry.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced in this internship is that coming in, I wanted to do something involving wet lab research but was told that I would not be able to due to the fact that 10 weeks would not be enough time to master the skill and have a meaningful project that I could start and finish. After talking to the PI of the lab, I was given a project that although does not have a wet lab component, is something that I understand the meaning of and see the big picture of, which in the end was what caught my attention and got me interested and invested in the project.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

So far, this isn’t the internship that I expected it to be since I had come into this thinking that I would be learning more on the wet lab research aspect of ophthalmology, but I actually really like where I am now. Even though I’m not doing wet lab, the things that I’m doing, even if it may get repetitive and boring at times, I understand why I need to do it and being able to see the big picture keeps me going. I feel like not doing wet lab has made me read more papers about what it is that I’m doing and allows me to learn more about the structure and problems of the eye more.

A Postcard From: Wenqi Wang ’18

Name: Wenqi Wang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Wuzhou, China

Internship Placement: Summer Science Research
Job Title: Student researcher
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

I am doing research about data analysis using nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) under the supervision of Professor Dianna Xu in the Computer Science Department at Bryn Mawr College. For the past several weeks, I have been reading academic literature on NMF, learning about statistical methods, and working on a chemistry dataset to try to uncover patterns that govern the success and failure of crystallization.

Why did you apply for this internship?

One reason is that I want to experience what research is like, which will be helpful as I am applying to grad schools in the coming fall. This experience will also better prepare me for more advanced studies after graduation. Another reason is that I want to explore something that combines both math and computer science, which is what I am interested in doing in the future.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I learned about this research opportunity in an email sent out by a Computer Science professor at Bryn Mawr. Although I was only a minor in CS and I have never taken classes with this professor, I decided to ask about this opportunity and express my interest. I did not have much hope as I applied but luckily ended up receiving an offer in the program.

 

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I have worked on my self-teaching skills, as I needed to plod through academic papers and textbooks on areas that I was not familiar with. My problem solving skills have also improved as I learned to code in a new language and as I tackled the dataset from scratch.

A Postcard From: Lillian Oyen-Ustad ’19

Name: Lillian Oyen-Ustad
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology and History
Hometown: Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Internship Placement: Bryn Mawr College Department of Biology
Job Title: Research Assistant

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working in Bryn Mawr’s biology department under the advisement of Dr. Karen Greif. We’re currently studying the effects of a certain calcium-binding synaptic protein on the growth of axons in embryonic chickens. The ultimate goal of this study is to learn more about the way the brain creates networks during development. These highly specialized proteins are traditionally responsible for cellular communication, but we hypothesize that, by responding to local signals, the protein provides a stimulus for the growth of axons during development. To test this hypothesis, we’ve designed two experiments—the first examines the effects of removing all of the existing protein on axonal growth and the second attempts to view the effects of the protein with a decreased calcium binding ability.

Why did you apply for this internship?

At Bryn Mawr, I am majoring in biology with a strong interest in neuroscience and developmental biology. I had the privilege of taking three of my four biology classes with Dr. Greif and was chosen to work in her lab for the summer. This internship will allow me to gain experience with more advanced laboratory techniques and learn more about research as a profession.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Through this internship opportunity, I was honored with the Frances Velay fellowship via Bryn Mawr. Through stipends and networking opportunities that encourage women’s involvement in the scientific field, I have had the chance to meet other fellows and discuss our individual research. I can say with full confidence that being a part of the collective impact supporting women in STEM fields has been one of my favorite parts of this summer.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Dynamic, Valuable, and Didactic
Developmental neurobiology research