Starting Law School

I’ve been in law school for a little over three weeks now and it’s off to a great start! Although the case readings and class lectures are definitely different from the physics/math courses I was used to, the analytical thinking skills I gained from them were excellent preparation for the logical case interpretations and rule applications that we discuss in class.

My Science Committee Internship this summer has proved to be extremely beneficial so far, towards my law studies. Research assignments, office memo writing, update meetings, and outreach/interviews are various skills that I’ve gained experience with this summer, and are all key topics in my legal writing and research classes.  There is always a learning curve when applying skills learned in the classroom to real world situations, so it’s immensely helpful that I’ve come into school with a handle on those basics, and experience with how they are utilized in an fast-paced work environment.

I’m sure my experience this summer will continue to have a great impact on my future plans as well, since it introduced me to many career options, opportunities, and great networking contacts.  I learned so much about the Legislative Process, Congressional Staff duties, and how each person truly can have a significant influence.  It’s made me eager to be in a position where I can effect change and make a difference.  I’m looking forward to these next 3 years, and seeing what the future has in store!


Reflection: A Summer of Growth

It’s officially been over a month since I left DC. As I lose myself in another semester of school, I think back on my internship with fond memories. I honestly feel that my entire mindset was changed because of it. The exposure to life as a researcher was, in my opinion, incredible.

Along the way I learned a large number of skills. I learned to code in IDL. I learned to work with Hubble data. I improved my poster creation and presentation skills. However, these things pale in comparison to what I feel was the true “moral” to my summer story. I learned the power of networking and collaboration. I learned that no matter what age, you may have a wonder for the stars. I learned that even successful, brilliant scientists can be so down to earth, while their heads are in the heavens.

I am continuing to work on the project that I began while I was at Goddard. It’s a friendly, refreshing reminder of the fun I had this summer. The work looks to be hard, and it’s a bit more difficult now that I can’t just wander down the hall, ask a question, and get an incredible story along with my answer. Instead I must now resort to email. However, the work is still exciting.

Some of the fondest memories of summer come from outside of work though. The other interns were fantastic, and we made sure to enjoy our summer together. It was so intriguing how quick we all were to be friends, when we had known each other for such little time. It seemed like we spent so much time together, but now upon reflection, it seems the summer ended far too soon.

All in all, I can’t complain about this last summer. I entertained a growth of knowledge and experience; one without rival in my history of summers. These are memories I will forever be fond of, and skills that I will often put to use.

Thanks for the great summer.

Retrospective: Through the Mirror Brightly

I didn’t expect to go to Washington DC this summer.

I’d put the SPS internships out of mind. I tried out, didn’t get the green light. It happens. But I had a backup plan: a slow summer of catching up on chemistry and recruiting visiting freshmen for UAteach.

That didn’t happen, obviously.

An e-mail came. A second chance. You in or out?

I’ve ignored the Call before. I’d bet some of you have too, and we share the same pain. Not a wound that won’t heal; but a flesh that never was. Ignore the Call at your peril.

So I came to DC, and went places and did things and met people, as I’ve recounted to you in these posts. But what actually happened? What changed?

Well, nothing hugely transformative. At least not in the short term. I’m back at the University of Arkansas, still preparing to become a high school physics teacher. I’ll complete this phase of my education and move on to educating others for at least a few years. That plan has not changed.

But the vision has sharpened. I see further down my intended path, and when I look to the side, I can see new roads where there were none before.

The SOCKs that Nicole and I conceived of will begin making their way across the country in coming months. I feel the SOCKs are unique among the internship projects. Of all the projects, they belong most to the interns who work on them. Within that summer, they must be designed, tested, and executed, and at the end a new work joins the pantheon of SOCKs past.

This year’s SOCK is good. It brings life to difficult and abstract topics, breaks new ground with its purpose-built electronics. Yet I’m unsatisfied. I’m rarely happy with anything I put myself into; I always imagine how it could be better. I’ve had some practice this summer moderating this mind-set. The first priority is to do, and the distant second is to do it well.

More important than any work I’ve done are the people I’ve met, the relationships formed. I have taken my first steps into a community that I knew only on the other side of the newsletter. And when you stand with the leaders of the SPS, when you are at ease in the presence of statesmen and administrators, when you are no longer phased by the presence of Nobel laureates and eminent scientists, you begin to think it is only natural that you are there, and that anything you do should be a credit to your station. There is a saying, “You are the average of your five closest friends.”

And what friends! Long after other memories have faded, there will still be good times to remember. The SPS rewards us well in these internships, but the greatest reward is the company we’ve shared.

So, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to say, “Yes.”’

Final Reflection

This summer internship with the Society of Physics Students has been a wonderful experience. As a Mather Public Policy Intern, I not only learned how science policy is conducted at the national level but also furthered my career interests.

My internship with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology allowed me to learn first-hand how things are done on the Hill. More specifically, this was through our participation in conducting written informative research for staff members and attendance at hearings and markups.  From my internship experiences, I learned the importance of not only being an involved citizen but also being an informed citizen. In addition to my internship duties I also had the opportunity to meet several different representatives, go to various receptions and luncheons held on the Hill, and meet some influential people in society.

Overall, the Society of Physics Students summer internship program was a fantastic experience. The different summer internships helped to demonstrate the different career paths a physics student can pursue besides academia and research. In addition to the internship, students participating in this program were able to meet other physics students from across the country and live in Washington DC for the summer. Coming from the West Coast, I was excited to be able to work and live in Washington DC. On the weekends, the other interns and I were able to explore many of the different DC tourist attractions such as the Mall, Smithsonian museums, and monuments. Some of the most memorable events of the summer included the 4th of July fireworks at the Mall, going to a Nationals Baseball Game, going to a classical music concert at the Kennedy Center, seeing the band “She and Him” live, being invited to breakfast at the U.S. House of Representative Dinning Room with Rep. Bill Foster an Dr. John Mather, meeting Bill Nye, and going on a Segway Tour of the city.

As a recent graduate, I plan to work for a couple of years in my field.  Since returning back to the Pacific Northwest, I have begun to apply for several different jobs related to my interests in environmental issues such as atmospheric science, climate change, clean energy technologies, and policy. This internship experience has not only helped me learn more about science policy but has also helped me solidify my desire to find a career that is both meaningful and will help contribute to finding solutions to global environmental issues.

Through this summer internship program, I have met some wonderful people and have had some great experiences. Therefore, I encourage all undergraduate physics student to apply for the Society of Physics Students Summer Internship Program.

End of a Great Summer Internship

The beginning portion of this week was dedicated to wrapping up my internship experience with the Society of Physics Students (SPS) at the American Center of Physics (ACP). The commute out to College Park was a lot longer than my usual commute to the Ford Office House Building since ACP is located in Maryland. Monday was set aside for practicing our final presentations and for receiving feedback from our peers. Tuesday was the day of our final presentations where we all presented our internship experiences to our mentors, friends, family, peers, and the ACP staff. All the presentations went very well and it was great to hear about the other SPS interns experiences and what they learned during the past 9.5 weeks. My presentation was last and was followed by some excellent questions like, “How do you meet with your representatives?” Following the presentations, my family and I had lunch at the Mather Internship Table, which was composed of Dr. John Mather, Jennifer Greenamoyer (AIP mentor), Pamitha Weerasinghe (Science Committee mentor), and Nikki Sanford and her family.

Later that day all the SPS interns went to the State Department for a tour where we met with a couple of physicists and astronomers working there. They talked about how they use their science backgrounds in their work to create policies and showed us another career that a person with a physics background can do. Wednesday was the final day our SPS internship which we spent filling out evaluations, signing thank you cards, and going a tour of the different societies located within the American Center of Physics building. More specifically, we went to the Niels Bohr Library, the Archives, and met with the directors of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The rest of the day was dedicated to packing and hanging out with the other SPS interns before we all head out on our different paths.

This has been such a wonderful internship experience. I gained valuable insights into how science policy is conducted at the Capitol and clarified my careers goals. I also met many wonderful people ranging from new friends to professional contacts. I look forward to using the skills gained from this internship and from my education in my career.

Week 10: You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.

This was the last week of my internship. I can’t believe how fast it has gone. I’ll talk a little about the last weekend though. Saturday was packed full. I went to the Hirshorn museum of art, which was really cool. I have realized that I enjoy art museums more than I originally believed.

That evening, I headed out to Virginia to go with Julie, my friend, to a mosque to celebrate Ramadan. We went to the Lutifullahi Asalta International Mosque which is a Nigerian mosque in Hyattsville, Maryland. We prayed with them, and then it was then time for the feast. We had spicy rice with spicy meat and plantains. It was a little too spicy for my palate, but it was a good experience. It was also nice to talk to some of the women there.

I don’t know if it was the food from the night before or simply that I was getting sick, but I woke up Sunday morning really sick to my stomach. I felt pretty terrible the whole day.

Monday was our presentation practice. It went way better than I expected, especially considering that I was feeling really sick. We presented right before lunch. We had lunch with Fred Dylla, the CEO of the American Institute of Physics, and Beth Cunningham, the Executive officer of The American Association of Physics Teachers. It was fun to talk to them a little about our experience because they couldn’t make our presentations on Tuesday. I left shortly after lunch because of how ill I was feeling and worked on finalizing our presentation for Tuesday at home.

Tuesday was our final presentation day. My family, parents, brother and sisters, flew in the night before, so they came to my presentation. My mentor from NIST, Mary, also came and it was really nice to see them all. Caleb and I did our presentations together, and I thought it went really well. We talked about our kit, did an activity, did a demonstration and then talked about NIST. After all the presentations, we had lunch as a big group before heading off to the state department tour. On the way to the tour I felt sicker and sicker, so by the time we got to Foggy Bottom I just decided to go home for the rest of the day.

Wednesday was our last day of work. We wrote thank you notes and filled out information about the internship. Then we had lunch together and did a little tour of ACP. We talked with Beth Cunningham of AAPT, Kate Kirby of APS, and toured the library. After I finished a few things at the office, I packed everything up and back to the dorm. I finished packing up all my stuff, cleaned up, and headed over to the hotel my family is staying at as we tour around DC for about a week and a half.

It was really sad that the internship was over. I can’t believe how fast it is gone. This has been a really great opportunity for me and I have learned a lot. I will miss all the wonderful people I worked with and all the great friends I have made. We have been singing “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone” from Pitch Perfect. Now it’s true.

Final Goodbyes!

This week has been very busy and very bittersweet! On Monday all the interns gathered at ACP to go through our presentations and see how we could improve them before the symposium on Tuesday. It was a bit daunting but so helpful to get everyone’s advice and suggestions. That night we went out to eat together for the last time as the (almost) complete group of SPS interns and realised that this summer had come to an end a lot quicker than any of us had expected!

Tuesday morning was our presentations and it was great to see everyone’s friends, family, and colleagues interested in what we’ve been working on over the summer. I was able to present near the start so that I could relax and listen properly to everyone else’s. Everyone has been working on such interesting things over a huge range of fields and I loved finding out about all the projects as I realised that up until now, I’d just been hearing tiny snapshots of their work. I also really enjoyed talking to people afterwards about the work I’ve been doing over the past two months. Our schedule for this week was jam packed and after a quick lunch, we were off on our tour of the State Department. We had the opportunity to listen to three people who all had physics backgrounds but now worked in the State Department. It all seems to prove that you really can do anything with a degree in physics!

On Wednesday we all gathered at ACP and had breakfast and worked on thank you notes for the people we’ve met over the summer, as well as saying goodbye to everyone who’s helped us, either specifically with our work or in general. After the interns who worked in the building organised a tour of a few of the areas we’d been working in, we went our separate ways as people began to gradually leave over the next couple of days. After heading back to the dorms that night, those of us that were still around went out for one last (amazing) burger in Georgetown and spent the night just hanging out and packing and (in my case) trying to figure out why I had so much more stuff than when I arrived and how I was going to fit it all in my suitcase!  On Thursday night, I flew back to London and was very excited to find that the weather was about 30 degrees colder than DC and that I could say goodbye to the humidity, the one thing I won’t miss!

This whole summer has been an amazing experience and I’d like to say thanks again to everyone at AIP and SPS as well as all the other interns.