Reflections on My SPS Internship

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Monday, August 26, 2013


Alexandra Day

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since the end of the SPS internship program! Looking back on my experiences, I’m struck by how much I learned – both about myself and about what it’s like to work at a national lab. One of the things I miss most about NIST is the atmosphere of discovery and research. It’s hard to transition back into a schedule of classes and meetings at college, and I miss having the opportunity to work on my own project and coordinate with a team of world-class researchers. I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to they dynamic environment at NIST and so I have been able to carry that energy and excitement into my academics this fall.

I also have fond memories of the support I received throughout the summer, both at NIST and at SPS. I was honored that Dr. Dave Seiler, chief of the semiconductor and dimensional metrology division at NIST, drove to College Park to see my final presentation. Many members of my group were supportive in the days and weeks leading up to my presentation, and I am grateful to them for their help. The SPS internship team at ACP also did a wonderful job supporting all of the interns. Toni, Kendra, and Elizabeth, were always available and were incredibly helpful throughout the entire summer. From planning awesome trips and outings to helping us prepare our presentations, they really made sure we enjoyed ourselves and got the most out of our summer. Living in DC was especially memorable for me, and I often find myself thinking back fondly on my experiences in the city.

The SPS program also helped me clarify what I want to do after college. I still want to go to graduate school and be a professor, but I think that SPS made me more committed to these goals. I have a better understanding of what postdocs and researchers do on a daily basis, and these insights will help me plan my future more easily. Working with MATLAB this summer made me realize the importance of solid programming skills, so I’m taking a computer science class this fall. I’m also very motivated to strengthen Wellesley’s SPS chapter and encourage more new members to join by hosting more events and participating in more outreach activities. I’m hoping to do research at MIT this fall and continue another research project that I started last year. In January 2014 and during the summer of 2014, I will participate in the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley. I’m really excited for the Institute and all the things that the next year will bring.

Overall, my SPS internship was a wonderful experience and helped me grow as a person and as a scientist. I miss spending time at NIST and in DC, and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to do so. My internship was a very memorable experience and I’m confident that my experiences will help me as I embark on the next phase of my journey.

Alexandra Day