Final Reflections: Opportunities I couldn’t have imagined

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Friday, August 1, 2014


Stephen Skolnick

This internship has offered me opportunities I couldn’t have imagined before the start of the summer. From climbing inside a cutting-edge spacecraft to seeing Bill Nye in person, the memories we packed into our days here have made the past two months a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Well, twice if you’re lucky like Caleb.

And while I value tremendously the professional skills we picked up, the chance to meet and network with people in government, academia, and industry, I hold as priceless the friendships we forged in the humid heat of a DC summer. While the internship itself taught me what work in the physics community can be like, I learned perhaps just as much through late-night card games fraught with delirious laughter, trivia triumphs, and the occasional struggles that brought us all together.

Most of the interns are heading back to college in the fall, and I'm among the few who have graduated, soon to be subjected to the unending maze of possibilities known as "real life". Ashley heads off to Luxembourg soon, and Caleb is going to teach in Arkansas, but it took me until very recently to figure out what's after the internship for me. I'm happy to say that it's another internship, and at the same desk no less! One of my first entries from the summer, "Benny and the Jets," was cross-posted to Physics Central's Physics Buzz blog where it caught the eye of APS's head of media relations. Just before the end of the summer, he came by my desk and asked if I had any interest in pursuing science writing; there's room for a writing intern until October.

As such, you can expect weekly blog posts from me on Physics Buzz through the end of September. It's not permanent, but I'm thrilled to have another month or so to job hunt in the area and explore the endless possibilities of Washington. It won't be the same, of course, without eleven comrades living in the same hallway, but as we group-hugged Dr. Sauncy before she left our dorm with a bin of stuff for next year's interns, I looked around at the faces that made the summer so unforgettable and knew, with a warm certainty, that I'm lucky to have known the people who are going to shape the world of physics in coming years.

Stephen Skolnick