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: Heather Liang ’18

Name: Heather Liang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: San Jose, Calif./Beijing, China

Internship Placement: Department of Planning and Development — Policy and Analysis Division (Philadelphia City Planning Commission), Mayor’s Internship Program
Job Title: Planning Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

My summer has been extremely fast-paced, and even more enriching. I am working at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission—newly integrated into the Department of Planning and Development—as my field placement in the Philadelphia Mayor’s Internship Program. My primary project at the Planning Commission is a parking inventory of Philadelphia’s University City District. I am working closely with the city’s transportation planner, David Kanthor, to produce a report that will benefit policymakers, business owners, developers and community members in and beyond UCD.

I have been analyzing data that the PCPC has collected about parking facilities, and gathered more data through both onsite and virtual surveys. Using geographic information system software ArcGIS and CycloMedia’s Globespotter, I am able to compile, analyze, and visually represent parking data in the context of UCD’s built environment and existing infrastructure. We will be able to use details about parking location, capacity, occupancy, and rates, along with parking and transportation policy of UCD institutions, to make recommendations for the future of parking in UCD. One of the big assignments that I tackled was a virtual survey of on-street parking capacity in University City. For the first time, PCPC can use detailed on-street data for more in-depth understanding and analysis of parking.

In addition to this project, I have also had the opportunity to attend meetings about a wide array of planning topics, such as Vision Zero traffic safety, downtown freight and delivery, bike trails, urban agriculture, and more!

As part of the Mayor’s Internship Program, the Mayor’s interns come together once a week to hear from panels of city employees in different department, attend leadership development trainings, and visit municipal operation facilities. These sessions have been fun and informative additions to my role at the Planning Commission.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I knew that I wanted to stay in Philadelphia this summer, and really familiarize myself with and take advantage of the vast urban laboratory that has been a short train-ride away for the past three years. I learned of the Mayor’s Internship Program through my major advisor, and saw it as a great opportunity to aim for a position with the Planning Commission. Not only would I get to work with a department that directly aligns with my interest in planning, but I would also have the unique opportunity to hear first-hand from many city employees and officials, and receive valuable HR training (and meet the mayor!).
Additionally, I wanted to apply for an internship in municipal government as a step toward determining my post-grad career direction. I have worked with a few different nonprofits, so I was interested in seeing what the public sector of the planning world was like, and how it differed from nonprofit work. Working with PCPC has definitely broadened my knowledge of the options ahead of me!

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

One of my favorite parts of this internship has been the opportunity to use ArcGIS to conduct spatial analyses and create maps. I have been eager to practice and learn more about ArcGIS since I took an Intro to GIS course last fall. Applying the skills that I had learned to this parking project, figuring out more operations, and seeing that manifest in real, useful maps was very rewarding. This process has also helped me identify more GIS-related skills that I want to learn! For example, the next project that I want to take on is learning Python coding for GIS operations.

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

Throughout my studies, I have not spent a lot of time learning or thinking about transportation. That has changed now that I have spent the summer working with the city’s transportation planner, and done in-depth analyses about car-use and transportation alternatives. I had not realized that there was a world of information, research, and debate about parking! Fun fact: the ideal daytime parking occupancy is 85 percent! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this is something that planners had put a number on!

Also, unrelated to parking, but a great Philadelphia fact that I learned: the William Penn statue that stands atop City Hall tower is 37 feet tall — making him the tallest statue on top of a building in the world. Also, the statue is hollow: the top of his hat has a latch that opens to the inside!

A Postcard From: Matison Hearn-Desautels ’18

Name: Matison Hearn-Desautels
Class Year: 2018
Major: International Studies (major), Political Science (minor)
Hometown: Takoma Park, Md.

Internship Placement: The Global Fund for Children
Job Title: Programs Intern
Location: Washington, D.C.

What’s happening at your internship?

The Global Fund for Children (GFC) is an NGO in Washington, D.C. By partnering with innovative, locally-led organizations around the world, it aims to support and empower children at the fringes of society through grant giving and capacity building. I am one of two interns with GFC’s program’s department, which works directly with GFC’s many partner organizations. The other intern in my department, Nayanthi Peiris ’18, is a fellow Bryn Mawr student. Together, we work on joint projects which include data management, administrative tasks, and wellness consulting for the GFC team. I work on a number of individual projects as well, for which I have partnered with the program’s regional team for Africa and the Middle East, as well as GFC’s communications department. Specifically, I have written blog posts for GFC’s website, highlighting the work that GFC’s partner organizations do.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for an internship with GFC because I wanted to gain experience in international development, and because the organization’s model is one which I agree with and want to support. I believe that supporting locally-led organizations is one of the best pathways to achieving sustainable development, and so GFC appealed to me as an example of an organization that does so.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

One of the most exciting things about this internship to me has been tackling a project which aims to improve health and wellness for the GFC staff. Together with my fellow intern, Nayanthi Peiris, we have researched and are developing a program to encourage community-building, quality wellness practices and healthy habits within the workplace. We hope that our program could become a resource that GFC could provide to its partner organizations in order to help support these organizations’ staff. (Many times, front-line staff do not receive sufficient support to promote their health and wellbeing, which can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging). Studies have shown that improved health and wellbeing in the workplace can not only have tremendous individual benefits, but also improves one’s work performance and even team performance.

 

A Postcard From: Tessa Haas ’18

Name: Tessa Haas
Class Year: 2018
Major: History of Art (minor: Museum Studies)
Hometown: Potomac Falls, Va.

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

What’s happening at your internship?

I’m spending this summer at the American Philosophical Society’s Museum in Old City. APS is the oldest learned society in the United States, with the mission of promoting useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through scholarly research, publication, and community outreach. I’m conducting archival research on objects and manuscripts from APS’ collections, for their upcoming 275th anniversary exhibition opening April 2018. The breadth of research has been very wide, and conducting research each day has been rewarding. Aside from archival research, which takes up the bulk of our time, we are also learning how to use new programs, such as FileMaker, will be conducting a visitor study in the museum next week, and networking with various staff members at both the APS Museum and Library. As a “museum person,” it’s exciting to come into work each day with new tasks (whether that be on researching different subject-matter, or otherwise).

Why did you apply for this internship?

The opportunity to work on such an important, large show is an incredibly rare and unique one, especially as an undergraduate! I also wanted exposure to a smaller museum environment in Philadelphia. As a History of Art major, I absolutely love working with art institutions. However, I wanted to broaden my scope of knowledge within a unique setting. APS is an institution that values art within its collections, along with many scientific and historic objects and manuscripts.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

One of my advisors, Monique Scott, recommended this position to me. I’m a transfer student and began studying at Bryn Mawr last Fall (2016). Last Spring, Monique was my advisor as I completed a PRAXIS internship at Special Collections/PAFA. She advocated for me to get this position at APS, and I’m very thankful for her support in that. Starting off as both a first-year and upperclassman student was daunting at first, but professors like Monique helped me feel incredibly supported in my academic endeavors.

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

I started this position assuming it would be like other curatorial internships that I’ve completed at arts institutions. However, the American Philosophical Society is an academically rigorous one; therefore, the scope of the APS’ 275th anniversary show is incredibly vast. I’ve conducted research using collections related to Anthropology, Paleontology, the Founding Fathers, Medicine, Terrestrial Magnetism, Industry, Exploration, Astronomy, and the Arts. We go through these collections and select objects that highlight the incredible contributions of APS Members across disciplines, from its founding in 1743 through the present. Sometimes there are also themes that come up when studying history, such as colonialism, ethnography, institutionally complicit racism and misogyny, and more. Learning how to talk about these subjects in the frame of a museum exhibit has been an incredibly interesting and rewarding experience, and one that was a happy surprise. In classes, I often study and discuss the theory of institutional critique. To go out into the field and curate an exhibit that tackles these difficult subjects is amazing.

 

A Postcard From: Amal Yassin ’18

Name: Amal Yassin
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biology and Psychology
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Internship Placement: Nationalities Service Center (NSC)
Job Title: Assistant Case Manager
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

My internship focused on helping refugees and immigrants through various important processes such as legal protections, community integration, access to health care and opportunities to achieve English language proficiency. I specifically worked in the health and wellness division of this organization in hopes of providing the health access that is critical for all newly arrived refugees and immigrants.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I knew I wanted to use both my Arabic proficiency and my pre-med background in order to help refugees transcend challenging situations. Throughout this internship, I was able to work with many Arabic speaking clients (making up 90% of newly arrived refugees and immigrants), which helped in overcoming the difficult language barrier that many refugees face when arriving to the United States. Additionally, since I was working in the health and wellness team, I was able to use my pre-med background to provide insight and understanding on many medically complex cases.

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

Three adjectives: Supportive, Optimistic, Understanding
Three nouns: Communication, Integrity, Hope

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

It is difficult to answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no” because in a way, this internship was exactly what I expected and in other ways, I was very surprised. For instance, the work and the services that I assisted with this summer are exactly what I applied for; I was able to combine and use my academic background in pre-med with my Arabic speaking proficiency to assist numerous Middle Eastern families. I was surprised with this internship because I did not expect to build such strong and caring relationships with my clients — many of them quickly became like family, offering me invites to their homes, food and gifts. When I initially applied to this internship, I did not expect it to be hard to say goodbye to my clients but it was one of the most difficult parts of this internship.

A Postcard From: Yezi Yang ’18

Name: Yezi Yang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Geology
Hometown: Wuxi, China

Internship Placement: Summer Science Research
Job Title: Student Researcher
Location: Bryn Mawr College; western Mongolia

What’s happening at your internship?

My summer internship includes both lab work in the geochemical lab and field work in western Mongolia. For the first month of the summer break I continued my last year’s research on Calathium fossils collected from Lower Ordovician Fillmore Formation, western Utah. I mainly worked on the role of a kind of clotted fabrics pervasive in reef-building Calathiums through cathodoluminescence and elemental abundance analyses.

In the middle of July I went to western Mongolia with Prof. Pedro Marenco and Katherine Marenco for two weeks of field work with an international team. We looked at trace fossils and microbial reefs from the Precambrian to Cambrian Period and collected multicellular algae fossils from an Ediacaran BST deposit.

Why did you apply for this internship?

A few questions such as the clotted fabrics and the alteration history were left unanswered from my last year’s research on Calathium morphology, and this internship gives me the opportunity to learn and use geochemical techniques to help solve them.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

The western Mongolian field trip because it is a wonderful field experience in every aspect! I genuinely love the field work, the fossils, the food, the views and the people I worked with. It was amazing to walk among the mountains of Precambrian and Cambrian rocks. The sedimentary strata are like physical time records that I can feel and touch. Walking from one formation to another is literally traveling through time. Everything was perfect except that this time we did not come across the spotted flesh flies which laid eggs in a student’s eyes last year.

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

I received lots of training in the lab and learned about lab skills such as cathodoluminescence microscopy and elemental abundance analysis using geochemical signatures like Sr and Mn. I also got trained on data processing and learned how to correct data drifts. These skills helped me investigate the alteration history of Calathium fossils and will surely be useful in my future lab work.

A Postcard From: Jennifer Orr ’18

Name: Jennifer Orr
Class Year: 2018
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Los Angeles

Internship Placement: Puentes de Salud
Job Title: Puentes Hacia el Futuro Tutor/Intern
Location: Southwark School

What’s happening at your internship?

I am interning at Puentes de Salud’s Summer Literacy Enrichment Program, where I get to work with students ages 8-10 years old and help facilitate their learning in both Spanish and English. With a group of three other tutors, I have been working to teach and supervise a group of 13 students, to engage them in reading and writing about important topics that all relate to the program’s Superhero theme such as Social Justice Superheroes, STEM Superheroes, and Migrant Superheroes. With my group of tutors, I manage the group so that we all know our individual roles and responsibilities for the day. I write up daily detailed itineraries for everyone in the group in order to eliminate miscommunication and confusion in the operations of our classroom. With the kids that I am responsible for, I am privileged to have them share their life stories with me, and it is really rewarding to hear how much the students in my class enjoy the program so much and want to attend the program every day — even on the weekends.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I have been such a huge fan of the work that Puentes de Salud does. As a student who is interested in pursuing a career and graduate studies in public health, the operations at Puentes de Salud have served as an inspiration to me. Puentes de Salud truly strives to address social determinants of health from the ground up, starting with child education, particularly in regards to language literacy. With this internship, I get to be a part of the process by which Puentes de Salud serves its target community, and I get to be involved in the work that this incredible organization does. Additionally, I used to volunteer for a somewhat similar afterschool program in Los Angeles when I was in high school, and I really enjoyed my time working with the children there, and thought that this internship would be the perfect extension of my academic and personal interests.

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

Some skills that I am picking up from this internship include learning how to diversify my teaching styles so that the students I supervise can understand the lessons, even if they have very different learning styles. Being able to work with multiple learning styles is important to me because it makes me a better teacher. I also get to learn more about my own learning and teaching styles through this experience. Additionally, I am learning how to be more flexible. As someone who is a bit of a perfectionist, I love to stick to a very strict schedule, however, as one learns when working with kids, you have to be flexible. You can keep the core components the same, but you soon realize that not everything will stick to the plan, as children can be unpredictable. However, unpredictable is not always a bad thing, and can in fact be quite rewarding.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

I recently celebrated a birthday, and when the children in my class found out it was my birthday, they planned an entire elaborate surprise for me. At the end of one of our teaching days, the children I supervised surprised me with handmade cards and artwork that they had been working on all day and had been trying to hide from me. I had not seen any of it coming, and the surprise was truly a group effort. The kids wrote very sweet things about how I was a good teacher or how I was very nice, and it was so touching that they came up with this surprise for me. Even students I had not had the opportunity to get to know as well were incredibly involved in the surprise process (as I got to see in the video my fellow tutors took while my eyes were covered) and it was such a great experience. The children are so sweet and kind and I really love getting to work with them.

A Postcard From: Yasmine Nahim ’18

Name: Yasmine Nahim
Class Year: 2018
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Yonkers, N.Y.

Internship Placement: Summer Science Research Program
Location: Bryn Mawr College

At my internship, I have the opportunity to work with Dr. Heejung Park in the psychology department for 10 weeks. With the datasets that she has at her disposal, thus far I have created a few research questions to investigate and statistically analyze. For my research, I am studying the ways in which multiethnic adolescents in South Korea (those who have one non-Korean parent and one ethnically Korean parent) face more challenges compared to their monoethnic Korean peers with relation to their psychological wellbeing and their family life. I was especially interested in this topic because it seems to be more common that research examines immigration challenges that focus more on immigration to “Western” cultures, but I think it is important to see if what we believe to be true about the effects of immigration in one context is similar or different in another context.

I had previously heard about the Summer Science Research program through word-of-mouth and had somewhat thought about applying this summer, but what really got me thinking about and applying to the program was when Dr. Park mentioned it to me. She thought the program would be a great fit for me and encouraged me to apply, and I greatly appreciated her reaching out to me for this opportunity. I applied for this internship with Dr. Park’s guidance so that we both could not only examine questions that I would like to explore for the summer but to also have a good foundation to extrapolate on for my senior thesis.

Having earlier exposure to the dataset and being able to get familiar with it before I begin my thesis in the fall was one of my main objectives for applying to the program as I had hoped it would help me lay a solid foundation for further research.
I have previously learned how to use the statistical program SPSS for statistical analysis in other psychology classes, but through this internship I have had the opportunity to explore more in depth and complicated analyses, which will be extremely useful for the data analysis that I will have to conduct for my thesis. I am also learning how to work more independently as opposed to having a little bit more guidance as I would in a classroom setting, which again is another important skill to have for completing my thesis.

Aside from the ways in which this program can help me academically, I also think that the skills I learn can be used outside of the classroom setting. One important thing that I have learned is independence, but I think it can also be just as important to know when to ask for help. Just recently, I was having a little difficulty trying to figure out a certain function on SPSS, and in the past I probably would have just kept trying to do it on my own which would have unnecessarily taken up too much time, but now instead I asked Dr. Park for help and managed to solve the problem in half the time had I tried to just do it myself. As much as I value independence, I also think helping one another and collaboration is important to succeed.