As part of the requirements for the grant I got for my summer internship I have been keeping this blog. In addition to keeping the blog there are prompts I need to answer. This is the first prompt this summer:
After spending the past month working with your organization, describe how your experience thus far at DePauw has prepared you for this internship. More specifically, how have you used your liberal arts education in your internship, and how have your past experiences helped benefit you in the work you are doing? Also, if you wanted to follow in the career path of someone at your internship site, what would you need to do to make this happen (Tip- you might want to speak with your supervisor for input on this!)?
While working at Water for Panama I have had to use a variety of skills I learned or perfected while at DePauw. Most important are the researching skills I learned. Most of my duties as an intern at WFP include doing research and compiling data for the use of the organization. After writing countless research papers, spending countless hours doing research for presentations, sitting through multiple information sessions with the librarians in the Roy O. basement, and countless naps littered throughout the library, I have been able to perfect my research strategy. My work at DePauw has taught me how to use data bases, what keywords work most effectively, how to determine the legitimacy of a source, and how to properly cite these sources. The research skills I have acquired at DePauw have been infinitely helpful in completing my work this summer.
Another skill I learned at DePauw that has been invaluable to me here is knowing how to write a scientific article. For my biology classes, we were required to read, understand, and summarize many scientific articles. I had to practice writing abstracts, creating graphs, and interpreting results. This practice came in handy when I set out to write my own scientific article on the data I spent the last month compiling.
My experiences with the Environmental Fellows at DePauw has also been helpful in my work this summer. Working with the fellows has taught me how to engage in meaningful discourse about important issues. I leaned what questions are important when considering the costs and benefits of something and its impact on the environment, and how to discuss these issues with peers.
Another skill I learned at DePauw that has been helpful while doing my internship is the ability to have polite formal discussions with peers and important people. In high school you are seldom asked to speak with the head of a department, or put in a situation where you can casually chat with people that have influence in important issues. Many people don’t get these experiences at large universities, but DePauw had many opportunities for student engagement, involvement, and leadership. Since coming to DePauw I have been able to chat with Jane Goodall and Sandra Steingraber, and I’ve had dinner with President Casey. Being exposed to important people and learning how to interact with them has been extremely helpful in my internship. A lot of work is done by exchanging cards and making friends with people in your field, or who are interested in what you’re doing. I made a good impression on a graphic designer at a meet and greet a couple of weeks ago, and his company has decided to adopt us and do media work for us for free. Knowing how to act, what to say, and what to do in formal situations, like meet and greets, business meetings, etc. is essential to success in any field. I feel I have had ample opportunity to participate in these types of events, and become a pro at the social graces of them, whether or not I actually like them (hint: I don’t).
The second half of this prompt is tricky because the organization I am working for is a small non-profit that’s just getting its start. Rachael, the CEO, saw the need for clean water in Panama when she went there on a mission trip in high school, so she started the charity herself. She started organizing fundraisers, put together the paperwork to get it to be a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit/ tax exempt organization. She applied for grants, gave up birthdays, and created this organization from the ground up. So if I wanted to follow in her footsteps I would create my own charity, and be the CEO of it. Although, I don’t think I have the particular skill set or mindset required to start and run a charity, so I don’t think that would end very well for me. I am the only science person currently working for Water for Panama, and the science aspect of the job is what I am most interested in doing as a career. Therefore, there really isn’t someone who’s career path at Water for Panama I would want to follow; however, after networking with the other people who have offices at TechArtista and people interested in Water for Panama, I have learned that there are countless organizations that needs all different kinds of help. The most important thing is to be involved, be active in seeking out connections, and don’t be afraid to tell people who you are connected with. There aren’t really any established career paths that I can model my trajectory on, but I have learned how to forge my own career path.