Afterthoughts and Acknowledgements

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Monday, January 14, 2019


Michael Welter

It’s been about 5 months since the 2018 SPS Interns packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes (for some of us, through tears), and headed back to our corners of the country. When I returned back to North Carolina, I felt...different. Initially, I attributed the feeling to making the transition back home; back to the same old places and routines after spending 10 adventurous weeks in Washington, DC. However, I realize now that the “difference” I was feeling was a change in perspective.


The first thing I noticed, which became obvious after reading over my previous blog posts, was that I actually had an idea of what career I wanted to pursue–which is no simple feat as an undergraduate physics student! Being the Communications intern opened my eyes to the beautiful yet practical applications of mixing science and art. From illustration, to marketing, to architecture, to product design–I could now see the various doors open for an individual pursuing a jointly technical and creative career. But this internship also helped narrow my career focus in another way: by spending time with the other interns, I got a window into what it would be like to perform research in the labs of NASA or NIST, or work on Capitol Hill, or write for a science-fueled news publication, or work for any of the other 10+ organizations that SPS has a relationship with, and found that the industry/position I had been placed in was exactly the one for me. I don’t know how they do it, but the SPS team has an incredible talent for predicting which setting would best suit each intern.


Having gotten so close with the rest of the interns, the next thing I realized when returning back to my university was how essential a sense of community is to a growing SPS chapter. Although our advisor and physics faculty have done an undeniably good job fostering a healthy sense of community, I noticed that there wasn’t much procedure in place to ensure that our community maintained its inclusive and organized nature. By taking advantage of the tools provided by SPS National and pulling from what I had learned about other interns’ chapters, I was able to set some mechanisms in place so that all of our current and future physics majors can feel safe and supported in our program. For example, our chapter voted on and posted a set of community guidelines for our shared research space, created a system to hold members accountable for their actions, and now we take time at each meeting to celebrate member accomplishments. Thanks to this internship, I was able to use my new found knowledge and experience to strengthen my chapter at home.


Most notably, though, this internship changed my perspective on life. I got the opportunity to live with and work with individuals that are doing–and undoubtedly will continue to do–amazing things (I’m talking about Nathan, Brigette, Jesus, Stephanie, Collin, Amanda, Kristen, Krystina, Daniel, Sarah, Mikayla, Sam, Elon, Phoebe, James, Danielle, Aaron, Brad, Sacha, Kerry, Lydia, Paolo, Rachel and Kim, in particular), people that I will forever admire for their passion and will forever respect for their drive. Thanks to their influence, I now have the confidence to set goals, and the support I need to achieve them.


Signing off for the last time!

Michael Welter