There are so many things I would love to accomplish over the course of this summer, so I thought writing my goals down here will hold me to them. Although I worked in a lab last summer, I have never been a part of a formal internship program like this where I'm starting completely fresh and forced to learn new concepts and techniques from the ground up. To be honest, it's intimidating, and a lot of the time I really do feel like a clueless intern. So, instead of overwhelming myself trying to learn everything all at once (like I'm prone to doing), I figured I'd split the summer into thirds and set goals for each one:
1. Since I've been out of school for almost a month now, I'm in the third week of my internship not counting the orientation week in New Mexico, which is just about 1/3 through my time here (10 weeks total). I'm taking the month of July off to travel to Namibia and Angola with my lab group from home, collecting samples for paleomagnetic analysis, which will become my senior thesis. This presents me with a huge challenge, though. My time here in North Carolina is limited, and, although I'm coming straight back to Chapel Hill afterwards, I need to make sure I have a firm grasp early on of what I'm doing before I leave for a month. That is why my goal for the first part of the summer is to bite the bullet and learn how to program. Now, I know I'm setting myself up for failure if I expect to learn an entire language in a month, because programming is something that sure as hell doesn't come naturally to me. I am terrified of programming. I don't know what it is--maybe I'm still traumatized from the intro Java class I took my freshman year which was filled with budding Mark Zuckerbergs. Anyway, I've built it up in my head that I absolutely cannot program. But I want to prove myself wrong. I'm going to face my fear, put in as much time as it takes for me to understand what's going on, and actually learn how to code. I know it will be frustrating and I will feel like an idiot as I try to figure things out, but I really need to show myself that I am capable of doing this. By the end of the first month of my internship, I would like to have a working code of some sort.
2. In the second third of the summer, I want to complete and submit my abstract for AGU. I know the deadline isn't until the last week of July, but I would like to have it done before I leave in order to make sure I don't accidently miss the deadline because of some silly internet connection problem. This is my main goal during the middle weeks of my internship, because writing the abstract should also give me a better feel for how to go about putting together my poster. This also pushes me toward an overall goal I have for the summer, which is to become more comfortable with writing professionally. I'd like to be able to communicate knowledgeably about my research and put forth a scholarly discussion of what I've been working so hard on this summer. I know that I need to get better at writing concisely, and I will push myself to ask for help and get feedback on my writing so that putting together scientific descriptions becomes more natural for me.
3. When I come back in August for the last three weeks at UNC, I want to be focused on bringing my project together so I can be sure I have meaningful results to present at AGU. One thing I have always struggled with as a student is confidence in myself and my work. I don't want to be afraid to ask questions if I don't understand something, and I'd like to have enough assurance to put forth my own opinions and actually contribute to the scientific discussion. So, that's exactly what I hope to do with my last weeks here. I want to finalize my code in order to discuss my project in front of my lab group and get their opinions on how I could make it better. This will require me to become comfortable with defending my work, which I'm hoping will provide me with confidence going into my senior year.
Coming into my internship, I was met with a steep learning curve, so I know it will take plenty of time and effort to accomplish these goals this summer. But hey, I'm always up for a challenge.
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