Week Five – Paddleboarding, Excel Sheets, and a Tour of the Capitol, Oh My!

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Sunday, July 2, 2023


Julia Buccola

We’re officially at the halfway point of the internship! 

On Monday, I worked from home and it was another newsletter publication day, so I finished up on my writing for the week. I also continued to work with some data in Tableau to make a visual widget of all of the national laboratories alongside information about the congressional districts they’re in. After work, I played a video game with my sister who lives pretty far away from me, so it was good to check in with her. Some other interns and I also attended an Astronomy on Tap event, which is an event where you can play trivia while scientists give presentations on different Astronomy topics. This particular event was at the DC9 club, and it was also a celebration of Black Space Week. Overall, I feel like I learned a lot and I also had a lot of fun letting my competitive side out during trivia. The interns also got to speak with several really cool science people, including a theoretical astrophysicist who works at NASA. I’m hoping I’ll be able to attend another in the future! 

Tuesday was another busy day, and my mentor is also out of town for this week, so I had a meeting with the head of the FYI team instead to go over what I would be working on over the course of the next few days. For the rest of the day, I worked on some of the edits I had received for bill summaries I wrote, and then on the Tableau software again – this did in fact give me a headache today, but it’s always so satisfying when you finally figure out what you’re doing wrong and get it to actually work. I also worked on updating some of the images that we have on the new website. After work, my roommate and I went to Trader Joe’s and got some supplies for a charcuterie board and had some of the other interns over to enjoy that and watch a movie. I also *finally* finished up one of the crochet bags I’ve been working on, and it will now go to auction in the intern group chat – whoever likes it first gets it. I’m excited to finish the rest of them :) 

On Wednesday, I met with the head of the FYI team again to demo the things I had been working on in Tableau. I added some new stuff to that data, and I also worked on updating some of the things on the website. After work, myself and a couple other interns went to paddleboard on the Potomac with the Potomac Conservancy – it was a good workout, and it was also gorgeous (even though I was terrified of the water... next time, I’m definitely getting a kayak instead of a paddleboard). 

Thursday, I attended a National Academies meeting digitally in the morning and then worked on combing through some of the bill data we have to find any discrepancies and correct them (about 800 rows in excel... it was a lot of staring at my computer screen for one day). It had been a super busy and tiring week up to this point, so I decided to take a quick power nap after work and then my roommate and I headed over to a shopping mall because we both needed to get some new headphones. I ended up finishing another crochet bag (we’re speed crocheting this week), and then we got some ice-cream to round out the night.  

On Friday, I finished working on the monster excel sheet I just mentioned in the morning. In the afternoon, the Capitol Hill intern, Ruthie, organized a tour of the Capitol for all the interns. As much as everyone joked earlier in the week about wearing sweatpants (technically, there’s no dress code for Capitol Hill), everyone looked quite snazzy, and it was super cool to see the behind-the-scenes of Capitol Hill. Big thank you to Ruthie for organizing the tour! 

All in all, it was a productive week, and it feels like I’m going into the second half of the internship in a good mindset to keep doing good work. I’m most excited to write a longer-form article, which we call bulletins, and to continue working on the Tableau data I have. See you next week! 

Julia Buccola