Week 10: End of Times (Well, Just End of Summer)

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Sunday, August 13, 2023


Jaden Sicotte

It’s over. All ten weeks have concluded and the interns and I have given our final presentations and all gone home. 

The final week began on Monday with a brief check-in meeting with Midhat Farooq from APS, who was stepping in as my mentor for the final week as my mentor for the summer, Bri Hart, was on vacation. The meeting was brief, yet productive, and I really appreciated her helping out. After work I met the interns at the National Mall for one last evening of spike ball, a picnic, and watching the sunset. Crazy how the first week we did the same, and Brynn is still awful at spike ball (kidding, it’s me who hasn’t improved).

Tuesday after work I went to a small and short concert by Bosnian pianist, Mirna Lekic. Despite its brevity, the music was engaging and it was a nice break from presentation prep. Later that evening I baked a cake for our intern dessert potluck. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that my previous two potluck attempts have been less than successful (gnocchi and empanadas). However, this one was a winner and while the frosting job was awful and the thing LOOKED awful, it was actually quite edible, which will be my new bar going forward.

Wednesday I had no official work meetings with APS, but it was my last day with them. Coincidentally, it was also the date of the August birthday bash. If you’ll remember, APS has a meeting once a month to celebrate new hires, retirees, and birthdays happening that month. When Devin, Jenna, and I joined APS 10 weeks ago, we got to join the June birthday bash meeting, and it seemed fitting that we’d leave with another one. After the last day concluded, most of the interns and I ventured to the wharf for our last Rock the Dock. The music was awesome, the atmosphere on point, and the games fun (although Clay and Brynn call cornhole “bags” and I’m still upset about it). My friend from home actually joined us and she said that the interns were all amazing people and that she enjoyed the chance to meet them (though she especially enjoyed talking to Gizem). 

Thursday was the beginning of the end, or at least its when the end felt real. We had our practice symposium presentations for Brad, Mikayla, and Kayla in the morning and while most of us were torn to shreds, I left feeling more confident and sporting a more airtight presentation. Later in the day, my mom arrived with my new desk for my apartment, among a few other small things to be moved in. After this was done, I raced back over to Tonic for the last intern dinner. After first meeting everyone at a Tonic dinner 10 weeks ago, it was apt (yet sad) to run it back one final time. Once again we took over the only table large enough for all of us, once again we had trouble with the contact-less order system, and once again we left in good spirits.

Friday was the culmination of 10 weeks worth of work. SPS leadership began the day with hand-picked books for each of us, with nice messages written inside each. I got American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, which is the inspiration for the Oppenheimer movie that came out this summer. The interns decided that we should also all leave nice messages in each others books and now this copy of American Prometheus is among my most prized books. Most of us were beyond nervous for our presentations, but I am beyond proud of everyone’s performances. Each intern was remarkably composed, even-spoken, knowledgeable, organized, and right on time. For my own presentation, I am content with how I did, especially given the state of my practice presentation for Brad the day prior (never knew I could stutter so much). After presentations I made time to say goodbye to a few of my friends from school who were going abroad in the Fall, as I wouldn’t see them for a few months. I then packed like a madman with Devin as we both had to move out early the next day. I met my mom for dinner that night, which was a nice break from all the goodbye prep. We went to Boqueria, which is a Spanish tapas style place (highly recommend). Straight from dinner I hurried back to campus for one last intern gathering. We got deep, got light again, and then deep once more. A group of us went out that night and so goodbyes were said on campus, and then throughout the night as people went home. My final goodbye was to Brynn around 3 am as I got home from the night out, who somehow got herself locked out of the dorm on her last night (such a moron).

Saturday began early, as I still needed to finish packing my return bag home. I then moved the last few things from the dorm room into my apartment with the help of my mom, and began the long drive home. 

Sunday was spent by the pool with my family. It was great catching up and catching some sun. Later in the evening I met up with some friends (the ones who’d visited in DC a few weeks ago). 

I want to thank SPS, APS, Bri Hart, Brad Conrad, Mikayla Cleaver, Kayla Stephens, Midhat Farooq, and everyone else who made this summer possible for me and the other interns. I definitely feel like I’ve progressed as a professional, as a student, and as a physicist. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the social, professional, and individual experiences this summer brought and that wouldn’t have been possible without SPS. To any out there reading these blogs, I hope you’ve been encouraged to apply for the internship, or simply to just pursue what you’re passionate about. There are opportunities everywhere and with a little searching and a little work, the benefits are astronomical (get it? Cause I’m an astro major?). 

Jaden Sicotte