A Postcard From: Kamara Simms ’19

Black Cultural Archives: This is the exterior of the building, which has interactive artwork celebrating important Black British figures.

Name: Kamara Simms
Class Year: 2019
Major: English
Minor: Africana Studies
Hometown: London, United Kingdom
Internship Placement: Black Cultural Archives
Job Title: Exhibition Guide
Location: London, United Kingdom

What’s happening at your internship? 

My internship has been very research-focused, and I have had the opportunity to research some incredible people and topics pertaining to Black British history. I’ve spent much of my time in the reading room and archives, satiating my want to know more about the history of Black people in my country. I have used my research to assist Black Cultural Archives’ marketing manager in promoting BCA through social media and their website. I’ve also worked very closely with BCA’s “Black Sound” exhibition, which showcases a timeline of Black British music and pays homage to its legacy and impact. I’ve created databases, contacted influential artists and conducted interviews. Furthermore, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the community that BCA fosters through working in the café and attending their evening events and themed days. My favourite has been “The Poet’s Corner,” which is their spoken word event hosted every Wednesday evening.

Windrush Square, just outside of Black Cultural Archives: In this photo, I am standing in front of the newly established memorial honouring Caribbeans and Africans who fought for the British Commonwealth during World War I and World War II.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am very interested in identity politics pertaining to race, and I wanted to learn more about Black British history. Academically, my work lies in identity politics and literature of the African diaspora, and I am a firm believer that one cannot navigate the process of conceptualising and understanding blackness without first understanding the history of black people. As such, volunteering at the Black Cultural Archives, the UK’s first dedicated Black heritage centre, seemed like an excellent way to spend my summer.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favourite part of this internship has been researching the extensive archive collection of Black British history housed at the Black Cultural Archives.

I learnt about an incredible Black British feminist named Olive Morris. She was a young Jamaican community leader and activist, who advocated for education and healthcare rights, and fought against police brutality. However, she is best known for standing up for squatters rights and tackling poor housing conditions for black people. Many immigrant communities were discriminated against in the UK in regards to housing, with many landlords advertising “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” in the windows of their properties. Olive Morris led the Organisation for Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) to tackle such issues from the grassroots level. I was able to look through periodicals and pamphlets written by the organisation, and even found unpublished original works of poetry by Black women at the time addressing feelings of displacement, which really resonated with me. I was conducting this research around the time of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London, which tragically drew attention to the poor housing conditions for the working class in Britain, disproportionately affecting people of colour, so learning about a young Jamaican woman advocating to improve the poor housing conditions of the Black working class in the 1980s definitely allowed me to see why learning the history of my country was so important for the present. As a Black British woman of Jamaican heritage, this is very much my history.

To learn more about Olive Morris, I wrote about her for the Black Cultural Archives’ website: bcaheritage.org.uk/in-remembrance-of-olive-morris-olivemorrisday

“Black Sound” pop-up exhibition: This exhibition, located in BCA’s café, highlights the importance of UK Garage and the legacy of Black British music. I helped to install the artwork on the table!

What is most rewarding about your internship?

I get to work in an incredibly diverse workplace with a majority of black women on its staff, who are committed to uplifting the voices of black people. Black Cultural Archives sheds light on hidden figures in history whose contributions are often silenced. It has created a home in London that supports the efforts of black people past, present and future, and is dedicated to providing a space for black people to excel. It feels absolutely wonderful to be a part of this and learn from such passionate people. The myth that Black is monolithic is truly dismantled in this work environment, and the black body is recognised as more than its racialised subjugation. We are valued and we are empowered as the creatives, intellectuals, and forward-thinkers that we are. I feel privileged that I was given the opportunity to work here for the summer, and am definitely interested in continuing to volunteer here in the future.

A Postcard From: Maya Bhalla-Ladd ’19

Name: Maya Bhalla-Ladd
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology
Hometown: Boston, Mass.

Internship Placement: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Job Title: Environmental Chemistry Intern
Location: Edgewater, Md.

What’s happening at your internship?

At SERC, I am researching a global change study on how salt marsh grasses respond to changes in warming. I used various methods and experimental designs to investigate how these species will keep up with our changing world.

Why did you apply for this internship?

My research advisor and mentor, Dr. Thomas Mozdzer, urged me to apply for this opportunity because of my work with gas exchanges in his lab.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Working in a collaborative laboratory was one of my favorite parts of my internship at SERC. Often times in science, individuals are wary of sharing their projects because scientists want to be able to clearly claim all the work as their own. It was exciting to be able to discuss and problem shoot my project, experimental design, and results with others and really strengthened my project overall.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

Finding significant data is often a challenge for ecologists because the natural world is so complex. So, it was really exciting to find statically significant results in my data that can inform other scientists’ future projects.


A Postcard From: Mimi Benkoussa ’19, Madeline Perry ’19, Nathália Santos ’20, and Claudia Zavala ’20

Name: Mimi Benkoussa
Class Year: 2019
Major: Computer Science w/ Statistics minor
Hometown: Glastonbury, CT

Name: Madeline Perry
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Name: Nathália Santos
Class Year: 2018
Major: Economics and Political Science
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Name: Claudia Zavala
Class Year: 2020
Major: Cities
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Internship Placement: Digital Scholarship Program
Job Title: Digital Scholarship Summer Fellows
Location: Bryn Mawr College

As part of our fellowship we have learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, used Python to create a web-scraper, applied management and cleaning techniques to “dirty” data-sets, and are currently creating our own website to house a data visualization project based on the collegewomen.org collection.

Just like our own cohort, our reasons for applying to this fellowship were varied. Mimi has always been interested in data and how it can be used, and was curious about the broader, “real world” applications of computer science and saw the fellowship as a way to apply her skills to a new and unique project. Madeline, on the other hand, has always been interested in computer science but has never pursued it. This fellowship has offered her the opportunity to develop her coding skills while working on a multifaceted digital project. For Nathália, the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship offered her the opportunity to continue to develop the skills she acquired as a Digital Scholarship Research Assistant during the spring semester, and to expand upon her knowledge of the Digital Scholarship field. As a Cities major, Claudia has an interest in how people interact with the spaces around them. This fellowship has allowed her to consider how a team of developers can bridge the gap between digital world and the people who engage with modern technology every day, and furthermore been a chance to explore how scholarly research can be displayed through data visualization, HTML, and CSS.

Being able to speak with Interactive Mechanics and Bryn Mawr Special Collections has been one of our favorite experiences, as we were able to see how collegewomen.org was built through collaboration. The Digital Scholarship Summer Meetup (which we hosted here at Bryn Mawr!) was also eye-opening, as we were able to talk to other students about their projects and see how digital tools allowed them to fulfill their research interests.​ Website creation has been another one of the most engaging and fun parts of this fellowship — it is so satisfying to see your hard work become a usable, tangible interface that people can interact with!

Let’s also not forget the fact that we have a lot of creative freedom regarding the direction of our data visualization project. We learned and applied various project management skills in order to take charge of the project and make it uniquely ours. It now reflects all of our talents and abilities, and displays our own visual interpretation of the contents of the collegewomen.org collection. One of the most rewarding things about this fellowship has been its collaborative aspect. Because we all come from diverse backgrounds and have different academic interests, we all bring unique strengths to the table and are constantly learning new things from one another.

We have spent significant time this summer learning and perfecting our CSS and HTML proficiency, which we believe will be immensely helpful in our future career paths. ​At the beginning of the fellowship, a few of us had doubts about the extent to which we would be able to contribute to this team project. Throughout the course of these eight weeks, however, we have acquired the skills to create a website from scratch and to clean large datasets. Moreover, we have learned about web scraping, web design, user experience, and video editing. This fellowship has allowed us to think critically about the digital tools available to us and programming languages needed to build a project. Prior to participating in this Fellowship the multi-layered process required front-end development was still a mystery, yet as the summer progressed, we were able to truly engage in this procedure by learning how to choose our audience, create design modules, web scrape, clean data, and write web functions.

A Postcard From: Abigail Haakyung Lee ’19

Name: Abigail Haakyung Lee
Class Year: 2019
Major: Computer Science and Mathematics
Hometown: Gwangmyeong, Republic of Korea

Internship Placement: Paires友舍
Job Title: Product Marketer
Location: Beijing, China

My first week shadowing my boss at a meeting with an investor. (Investor — Boss — Me)

What’s happening at your internship?

So many things are happening at my internship. The company that I work for is based in China and it is a startup with five full-time employees and two part-time workers. I have been here as an intern since June 4 and saw many other interns coming in and out during my stay. I am here as a product marketer, which my boss would like to call me as a “brain” of the company. I develop products and prototypes of some services that the company can possibly sell soon that aims to provide services and systems for customers who use our services. Since things are changing so fast in the Chinese market, especially in a startup environment, the business plan that I read on my first day is in a process of modification on my fifth week here.

Outside view of my office — very center of Beijing.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I started learning Chinese when I first came to Bryn Mawr. I wanted to learn more about the Chinese language and fully expose myself into the culture by living in the center of the capital city of China. I also wanted to experience the culture of startup, as Bryn Mawr has given so many positive strong impressions by letting me be a part of small but strong and close community. I wanted to build strong relationships with people I meet here at my internship and wanted to work in an environment where communication is the utmost important factor.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

My home in Korea is also in a suburban area, and we all know Bryn Mawr is in a very safe and quiet town.

Getting to live in one of the busiest cities in the world, my heart pounded and I was full of curiosity and questions about the people I will get to meet and the work here and the lessons I will get to learn in the next few weeks. Beijing is full of interesting places with long history and abundant artwork full of liveliness. One of my goals before coming to Beijing was never to stay in my dorm on the weekends. Whether I was tired or not, I told to myself never to stay where I was, but explore the bigger world and the taste of Beijing as much as I possibly could. On my first weekend, my colleague first took me to a graduation exhibition at one of the top art schools in China. I was not only able to feel the abundant and rich culture, but the infinite creativeness of Chinese young artists who would, or currently, lead a new wave. I also got a chance to hang around and go bowling for the first time with my colleague’s friends. Last week, I went to historically famous landmarks in China like Summer Palace and the Great Wall. Not only am I experiencing a city life with my new friends here, but also I am visiting renowned historical places and getting to know Chinese culture more.

Went to the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Graduation Exhibition with my colleague and her friend.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

I wanted to spend my summer writing some codes and develop a website to refine and develop my programming skills. But I am learning more than I expected and experiencing a so much bigger world than I have imagined. Rather than some hard skills that I wanted to develop, I am developing soft skills in so many diverse perspectives that I could not ask any other place to give me such experience. I have been currently developing a new dashboard for the company’s operations team to use, but this plan has been expanded so much that now we are planning to make this platform available to other customers by adding the following purposes: providing clear and transparent services, offering convenience for users, especially for the operations team, and implementing new and auto mechanisms to maximize the user’s experience. I have been working on this new dashboard product from the very blank page, and filling those blank pages with an idea followed by another really excites me, as all these features will take a step-by-step process that will ultimately end up in one product with all the purposes I first intended. I can’t wait to see what other projects I am working on will be like at the end of my day, and I am truly excited for what other works I would encounter and what ideas would come out that could really help the company grow.

Company logo. The first thing when you enter the office.

A Postcard From: Sanjana Sen ’19

Name: Sanjana Sen
Class Year: 2019
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Kolkata, India

Internship Placement: Wash Cycle Laundry
Job Title: Sales and Marketing Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

There is a lot happening at Wash Cycle this summer. Startups are always a bit of a whirlwind, but this has been an especially exciting time at wash cycle. We are in the midst of multiple transitions — new technology, new hires, new systems, expansions.
I’ve mainly been responsible for the phasing in of a new database for the company. It allows us to track the entire pick up, washing and delivery process for all of our customers in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and soon Boston.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I knew that I wanted to work at a small company/startup that would let me work closely with high-level management. I also wanted the flexibility to take on a variety of different roles, and have the chance to explore different parts of the decision-making process.

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

I learned how to ride a bike!

Bicycles are a major part of the business idea at Wash Cycle. Delivering laundry mainly on bicycles is how we reduce our carbon footprint. Though they didn’t personally teach me how to ride a bike, the way biking brought the community at WC together definitely inspired me to learn. I actually covered the 25-mile Lehigh Gorge trail in the Poconos in July!

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

Both yes, and no. I’ve always known that startups are generally fast-paced, and every day there is a new challenge. But being present when it seems like everything is falling apart is a completely different experience. It definitely took me a couple of weeks to adjust and accept that there will always be obstacles and there will always be issues. But I soon started relishing the challenges instead of fearing them, and l think that that is when I was able to be completely happy with my experience.

A Postcard From: Elliott Mutschlecner ’19

Name: Elliott Mutschlecner
Class Year: 2019
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Stevens Point, Wis.

Internship Placement: William Way Community Center
Job Title: Development Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

During my time at William Way I gained a diversity of experience and knowledge. When I first arrived in late May, the Center was preparing for their annual silent auction, and as a result I was able to see all the ins and outs that comes with organizing such a big event. I logged tons of information involving the auction items and donors, collected and wrapped auction baskets in an artsy way, volunteered at the event itself, and assisted in tying up loose ends when the event ended. Throughout the rest of the summer I actively participated in other special events. For instance, one of the other interns and I represented William Way at an outreach table for the opening of the first ever LGBT glass art show in America at the National Liberty Museum. There were quieter activities as well. By going through activities such as the grant writing procedure, processing membership donations, and collecting demographic information via survey, I discovered how much work it takes to cultivate strong relationships with members, donors, and grant funders.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to the William Way Community Center because I believe in the power of community. Whether one looks at our response to the Aids Epidemic or our successful campaign for marriage equality, it is clear the LGBTQ community is a force to be reckoned with. We are strong but we also remain vulnerable. In a time when suicide rates of trans youth have spiked, trans women of color are murdered at disproportionate rates, and LGBTQ elders face housing discrimination, food insecurity, and abuse, I feel strongly it is my obligation to stand up and fight back. While my passion is people, I realized I needed more tools in my tool box if I was going to effectively advocate for my community. I decided that this summer I would focus on developing my office-related skills through programs such as Excel, Sales Force, Mail Merge, etc. In addition to improving my ability to fight for my community, it also gives me a competitive advantage for later when I am looking for jobs. Experience in development and financial management are two areas that are sought out in the nonprofit sphere. Lastly, I applied because William Way is one of the base LGBTQ organizations and has historical significance, as it has been around since 1974.

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

Queer-friendly | Development | Tightknit
Technology | Collaborative | Community

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

No. I thought that working on a computer all day would not be stimulating enough for me. In the beginning of the summer I remember telling myself that even if it got boring, it was going to pay off in the long run. I am a positive person so I knew I wasn’t going to be miserable, but I was surprised that I did not once become bored with the work I was doing and actually found pleasure in the tech- and office-related tasks. Even when I performed monotonous tasks, I still found it entertaining. For example, I spent a significant amount of time plugging in data, and I found that the repetitiveness of such tasks felt therapeutic. I also was not expecting to be as close with my coworkers as I ended up being, and I’m looking forward to maintaining the relationships I made. I did not realize how much fun it can be to work in an office when you have coworkers who are easy to get along with.

A Postcard From: Angela Zhang ’19

Name: Angela Zhang
Class Year: 2019
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: San Diego, CA

Internship Placement: MD Anderson Cancer Center
Job Title: Summer Student
Location: Houston, Texas

What’s happening at your internship?

For 10 weeks this summer, I have been working on a research project in a genetics lab which will culminate in a poster presentation. The lab’s focus is on the p53 gene pathway, a major breakthrough in cancer research since mutant p53 is a hallmark of many cancers. My specific project lies in the field of onco-immunology and involves analyzing and comparing different tumor microenvironments of mice tumor tissues with different genetic makeups by microscope. To create the microscope slides, a process called immunohistochemistry is used to amplify the immune cell or protein of interest. After images are taken of the tissues, a program called ImageJ is used to quantify the desired cells or proteins present.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to when internship when I received an email from LILAC stating that two positions were available for Bryn Mawr students at MD Anderson. I decided it would not hurt to apply in addition to the other research programs I was applying to. Although I had not taken any biology classes during my time at Bryn Mawr, I thought that it was a good opportunity to experience work in a research lab.

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

I learned that I have the tools and skills I need to dive into a research area I am unfamiliar with. Despite my lack of knowledge in biology, I quickly learned the basics of onco-immunology and the p53 pathway within the first few weeks of my internship. My mentor provided me with relevant papers to read, and I looked up journal articles in my free time. I also had to quickly learn many research techniques required for my project, which involved learning how to deal with constant failures and mistakes with experiments. Good communication with my mentor helped to mediate the unavoidable conflicts that would come up in the lab, and learning to view these events as learning experiences was useful as well.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

This internship is the first time I have lived away from my family for an extended amount of time outside of school. The first few weeks were overwhelming since I had to learn how to ride the buses and shop for groceries, but I got the hang of it quickly. I learned that I really enjoy buying food and cooking for myself. The heat and humidity as well as thunderstorms took some getting used to, and I got so many mosquito bites I had to buy bug spray. The city has a lot to offer, and I liked to spend my weekends in the museum district and watching free (!) performances such as Pippin the Musical and Twelfth Night at the outdoor theatre. The image above is from the Pixel Forest installation by Pipilotti Rist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

A Postcard From: Mai Hoang ’19

Name: Mai Hoang
Class Year: 2019
Major: Economics and Math
Hometown: Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Internship Placement: ViCare.vn
Job Title: Sales and Project Management intern
Location: Ha Noi, Viet Nam

What’s happening at your internship?

The startup that I’m interning at this summer is ViCare.vn, a healthcare platform in Vietnam that aims to connect Vietnamese people with healthcare services. I’m working both for the Project Management and Sales department at ViCare. My main responsibility during this internship is to help facilitate the connection between the company and clinics and help with promotion campaigns for ViCare’s new project, which is a testing service. Besides the time at the office searching for clinics and hospitals and reaching out to them, I have the chance to meet with the company’s investors and directly go to different clinics to meet a lot of experts in the field. I’m also in charge of various logistics tasks for the Sales department, specifically to take care of the sales kit design.

Why did you apply for this internship?

My experience at ViCare.vn last summer and my academic background provide me with strong foundation to do this internship. Last year, my brief internship at ViCare.vn as a Data Analysis and Project Management intern gave me valuable hands-on experience with a wide range of projects in a startup and allowed me to learn various technical skills. As a Project Management intern, I had the opportunity to work closely with different teams such as the Development team and Sales team to come up with new ideas and gather quantitative data to work on different projects. This has allowed me to broaden my knowledge about startups and project management and also helped me understand how sales and project management are greatly complementary. As a result, I was motivated to come back here and apply to work as a Sales and Project Management intern this summer. More importantly, ViCare.vn is a new startup that has been developing rapidly, providing an increasingly large number of services to users and connecting more and more Vietnamese with medical facilities. That’s to say, the company is now running its various projects on a much larger scale, which requires greater expertise and further experience to operate. Therefore, there would be plenty of new things for me to learn during the internship compared to the short internship I had last year.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I found this internship last summer (summer of my freshman year), but it was quite late in the summer when I found out about this. Actually, I was an audit intern at KPMG Viet Nam last summer when I heard about ViCare from a friend of mine. Although working at KPMG did a good job at introducing me to the field of audit, I found myself not really suitable for becoming an auditor while very interested in trying out a startup. For this reason, I was determined to apply to work at ViCare for the rest of my summer after my internship at KPMG ended.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Since this is a new startup (the size is not yet very big), I have the opportunity to communicate with and learn a lot from the people there. Especially, my manager once took me to go meet and talk with the company’s investors. If it wasn’t for ViCare, I wouldn’t have such opportunity to do so.


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.