Week 2: Live, Laugh, Logic

Share This:

Sunday, June 11, 2023


Devin Kodsi

As I’m writing the second week’s blog post, I’m slowly realizing that 20% of the internship has already passed within the blink of an eye. However, one could argue that such a fast-paced experience has been due to the fact that this program has already been one to remember. Such a silver lining during my sad realization of the end’s inevitability (not exactly meant to be a Thanos joke, but you certainly could take it as such) brings a sense of hope leading into week three. Yet, before approaching such a milestone and following along the lines of what my English teachers back in high school would say, a reflection is in order.


Ah yes, Monday: the day of the week that features a fresh start to your outlook on work and socializing. The Monday of week 2 certainly brought about this type of fresh start, as today’s mentor-mentee meeting (say that 3x fast) involved a discussion of the goals and expectations I would like to continue shaping for this internship. Specifically, we discussed the overall continuation of updating the educational graphs found on the organization’s website due to the new 2021 data set and the alteration of the definition of STEM used by APS. The data used by APS comes from the  IPEDS federal data set, where certain codes (CIPs) of subjects and fields are chosen for degrees like physics and mathematics for analysis purposes. All of the jargon aside, APS is ultimately sorting through this data to find decades-long trends in physics and STEM in areas such as gender, race, and ethnicity in the United States. Recently, APS changed the way that it defines STEM fields for several reasons but to overall be inclusive in the type of fields included in the umbrella of STEM. My mentor and I were able to detail how an analysis of the effects of such an alteration in the STEM definition would be interesting to carry out, observing how the number of individuals classified by gender, race, and ethnicity included in the new definition contrasted with the old and attempting to understand the why behind all of it. While these concepts were quite a bit to wrap my mind around, I was both eager and determined to start digging into the weeds of the vast amount of updated data. 

Or maybe the data represented some sort of berry-filled shrubbery? Use whatever metaphor works best for your figurative taste.


After a full day of work, the interns decided to take a trip to the fields by the Reflecting Pool. I have enjoyed being able to take a break from work with the other interns during this time and simply make lasting memories with the cohort after our work days have concluded. I brought my very own frisbee all the way from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which I have used multiple times on my university’s quad to pass the time during the busy semesters. The interns had a great time chatting and playing frisbee for a few hours as the sun set behind the Lincoln Memorial, helping to create a picturesque moment for the start of the week. And hey, who knew that physics majors could be fairly decent at throwing a frisbee? Maybe we should start our own ultimate frisbee team? More details to come…



The next day began with a continuation of data and graph updating leading to my daily meeting with my mentor. I have found quite a sense of fulfillment at the end of every completed spreadsheet, as all of the work I put in to update the data files neatly into place within a (hopefully) visually appealing graph. Yes, the graph might not clearly display all of the work put into the data found in the solid and dotted lines spanning over decades of information, but I still find a sense of accomplishment as I look back through these numerical visualizations that make big data appealing to analyze. My mentor meeting involved a general update on my progress in addition to a lesson on the use and application of pivot tables in data analysis. These tables helped me to check back and compare collected data for various spreadsheets, representing quite a useful tool I wish I had learned for earlier STEM-related projects in college. My mentor also shared documents with me to provide some context for the organization’s change of the STEM definition. We further discussed some of the trends we observed from the updated data, such as the general drop in physics bachelor’s degrees from 2020 to 2021. I’m hoping to find more interesting and thought-provoking trends like this throughout the next several weeks!


In contrast to Monday, the interns seemed to be quite tired from the day’s activities and did not plan for a socializing event. While this represented the first time for the group to not plan something, I will admit that it was nice to simply relax after work and catch up on shows I had been looking forward to watching. Over the past few years, I have slowly been growing my interest in the realm of Japanese animated shows, and I am currently loving the action-packed storyline of Demon Slayer in addition to waiting for the long-anticipated ending of Attack on Titan. Yes, I know that I could just read the manga for Attack on Titan, but I already waited so long for the show that I seem to find myself in a state of a lost-cost fallacy. Any tips would be appreciated.



Wednesday, the day of the week whose notorious nickname was shaped by GEICO’S genius marketing team and a CGI camel, marked quite a day for the APS interns. In the SPS summer intern program, there are three interns in total working for the American Physical Society, and we have chosen Wednesdays as the days to travel to the ACP office building for work to make the 1-hour commute one of comradery. Every month, APS hosts a virtual “Birthday Bash” to celebrate all of the birthdays for that month, and this event gave us a chance to introduce ourselves via Zoom to the rest of APS. The birthday bash was a hoot and a half, as the session covered both May and June birthdays and went through about 40 slides of funny photos for each birthday recipient. This meeting was definitely a great way for me to get acquainted with the organizational environment in addition to putting faces to names, contrasting with attempting to look at email account images in my organizational account. Before this event, my mentor and I discussed efforts of reaching out to the APS marketing team to begin work on infographics to present the data in a more understandable fashion. Throughout this internship, I can analyze the data and make detailed graphs as much as I would like. But, only a few individuals will actually download the files on the APS website to thoroughly analyze them. Bringing this data into the light of the general public in a simplistic way will help to bring about an understanding that detailed numbers might not be able to accomplish. 



Wednesday evening featured an event that is notorious for physics majors and nerds in general: a video game night! Specifically, one of the interns was kind enough to lend their Switch so that we could enjoy a very lighthearted and non-screaming game of Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario Party. I honestly had not played either game since late elementary school, so it was nice to bring back some of those old memories with new friends and at an older stage of life. Who says that you are ever too old for video games, right? Unless you are a terrible player, of course, which I’m slowly coming to realize due to my disastrous performance.   


Thursday was a day that I had looked forward to for quite a while. You see, over the past three and a half years, I have been dating one of the most amazing girls I have ever met (a bit biased, but it’s the truth). She (Siena) and I met through our late high school band program, and while we might be what you might label as a band couple, we have truly loved one another and have made some of my most lasting memories together. We have been doing long-distance over the past three years due to her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and we have loved coming up to see one another throughout our school years. Now, despite this lovey-dovey connection, our paths during the summer didn’t exactly coincide due to her simple psychology-based research at Harvard (no big deal). But we made plans to travel and see each other during the summer months, and Thursday was the day that she was coming in from Boston for the weekend. On the subway ride over to DCA, I could hardly hold in my excitement to see her again after the past few weeks apart. The hug upon meeting at baggage claim was definitely worth the wait, and we both attended our respective virtual meetings and completed work leading to the close of the day after returning.


That evening, Siena and I traveled to see the one and only Logic in concert! I have kept up with the rap artist intermittently with his albums ever since late middle school, and I love his ability to create a variety of different concept albums through his artistic capabilities. Logic was actually one of the many things that Siena and I bonded over, and we were both ecstatic to find out that he was performing in DC for his new album tour. I have to say that this was one of the most entertaining concerts I have been to, where the events ranged from his performance of iconic songs to witnessing a high school senior graduate on stage. Admittedly, out of my personal concert pool of going to see Idina Menzel as a kid, there wasn’t much with which to compare my concert-going experience. 



The final day of the work week involved a wonderful meeting with past mentors of my internship position. In addition to discussing career-based goals and questions relating to APS and physics as a whole, they were able to provide essential insight into my role as an APS intern. Overall, meeting with them definitely boosted a sense of motivation for the work I had and will continue to be doing for the duration of the summer. They detailed how the data I was analyzing represented a task that had been a long time coming. Furthermore, they helped me understand how my work as an intern would help to play a small yet vital role in the progression of our society through educational awareness of gender and race-based trends. After such discussions, I was able to present some of the trends I was able to both update and discover due to the new STEM classifications. This involved a discussion of the comparison between the physics and STEM bachelor’s degrees in addition to the comparison between the new and old STEM classifications. From this meeting, I will continue to investigate the effects of the new STEM definition on different realms of individuals, and I will attempt to determine which majors in the “new” STEM are contributing to such effects the most. 


Jazz in the Garden made a comeback from the previous week, where another intern was kind enough to let Siena and I join him at the event and listen to quite an interesting blend of violin-based jazz. For the rest of the evening, I was able to introduce Siena to the other interns back at the dormitory. The work week had come to a close, and we were ready for the weekend!



We were lucky enough to be able to attend the pride parade on Saturday afternoon, and we had the most wonderful time seeing so many different floats, decorations, and people go by. We got to the parade at around 3:30 with the other interns, and soon realized that the parade was planned to last until 7:00! I honestly would have stayed until the very end due to the infectiously joyous nature of the parade, but we traveled with the other interns to find another pride event located in the city. However, our attempts proved to be futile due to the packed nature of the streets, and Siena and I soon decided to end such a wonderful day with Papa John’s and Heartstopper on Netflix (such a heartwarming show, I’d highly recommend watching it). Sunday involved a somehow even better end to the day, as we had a most beautiful picnic by the Reflecting Pool with cheese, apples, and cherries from a farmer’s market and crackers from Whole Foods. Memorable culinary experiences can be found in DC, that’s for sure.



Overall, I just want to say that I have truly enjoyed my mentor’s openness throughout the early stages of the internship. Her understanding and helpful nature have allowed me to feel both supported and motivated in my role as an APS intern, and I have already learned so much from her in just the first full week. I can’t wait to enter week three of this internship!


Devin Kodsi