My experience with INSET

Over the past several weeks I had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people in the Palmstrom Lab. I have learned a lot in this small amount of time. I learned much about the theory of electricity and magnetism, but more importantly I have seen first hand that science isn’t only about reading something online or in a book. Science, and the experiments necessary to test new theories, involves a lot of hands on work. At least half of the time I spent in the lab was dedicated to turning wrenches or working in the machine shop; one quarter of the time was conducting experiments; finally, the last  quarter of the time was spent making reports and powerpoints on the results of the experiments. It’s hard to say which part I liked most, but if I had to choose, I really liked working in the machine shop. Probably because I have never worked in a machine shop before, so it was really exciting learning how to operate the equipment.

I also got the chance to do a lot of networking on campus. Since I am transferring to UCSB in the fall, it will be nice to already know my way around campus and recognize some familiar faces. We had a dinner with the faculty night where we were able to meet instructors from the science and engineering departments and also a separate night where we had dinner with people from the technology industry around Santa Barbara. It was great to get the chance to talk to people who have been down the same path that I am travelling now.

I had a really great time this summer. I’m glad that I took the chance to get out of my comfort zone and apply for this internship. This experience will be far more memorable than if I had just taken classes this summer. I hope that all the people I met this summer have the chance to read this post, so they will know how much I appreciate this opportunity to work with them. I would especially like to thank my mentor Tony McFadden, my principle investigator Chris Palmstrom, as well as the rest of the guys in the lab.

My First Internship!

Naturally, I am a little bit intimidated. I mean, who wouldn’t be? After three long years of community college, I’m going to the big leagues. A research lab at a world class university, filled with graduate students who are the cream of the crop. This is my chance to show them what I’ve got and I don’t want to blow it! All these doubts and insecurities keep running through my mind. I just hope that I will be good enough.

Fast forward to my first day on the job and wouldn’t you know it…everybody is really nice! They treat me with respect and talk to me as if I am their equal. What was I even worried about in the first place? That is not to say that everything is easy. I am assigned tasks that are challenging, but manageable. I am talking about real hands on science. You definitely won’t be getting anyone’s coffee.

As I look back on my first few weeks of INSET, I can’t believe how time has flown by. I am pleased to report that I have not broken a single thing (yet). I love the fact that I am given enough independence to make mistakes and learn from them. That is what science is all about. If you ever have the opportunity to be an intern, I say go for it. Don’t be scared. The people you meet will more than likely be just like you.