the post-research research

now that research is officially over — officially as in the posters have been presented, the goodbyes have been said, and i’m finally back in my room by myself — it’s time for a different kind of research to start. it’s been an ongoing research process, with lit reviews happening at the same time as study designs, with data collection happening as discussions are being composed. this research process is research on myself. and now that this one crucial component of my summer is completed, it’s time to reflect on what it’s meant to me/how it has changed me/what I expected to see/what I actually see… yes Sophiaaa let’s put that research process into work!

as i was talking with xiaofan one day, i realized that it’s interesting what happens when people begin to know you for something. People know Sana as the girl who is veryy into food justice, and so anytime someone comes across a resource that they think she’d be into, they immediately forward it to her. Not that this passion defines her identity, but that people celebrate this unique interest of hers and defer to her as the first person they’d talk to about these issues, which makes her even more knowledgeable. Interesting. What identity have I built for myself? As shallow as it might be, there is one thing I want people to know me for. and this one thing will be mentioned in this blog post a lot, so perhaps it will become very obvious (also dunez thanks for forcing me to write — i was studying econ but and yeah it’s kind of a priority but I also need to just sit down and hammer out all the thoughts that have been bruising the sides of my brain as they’re bouncing around and waiting to be solified into words that I can save and look back on. distracting thoughts — i miss art. i miss the feeling of being surrounded by a ton of people. I wish i could have brough my laptop onto the train and spent 2 hours blogging a day. i’m so relieved i never have to suffer my ridiculous commute again. this summer would have been so different if i worked somewhere closer.

back to the post-research research, research on my own realizations and how my passions have both developed and become more clear to myself. if I can sift through all my previous reactions and interactions as the ‘lit review’ stage of this

(thank God writing this post is made easier because I was already forced to articulate my thoughts in real time over a phone call with haruna) (#external processor)

not that i really considered academia as a trajectory, because it’s something, a concept, a way of life i was never exposed to given my family/family’s circle of friends. but it was interesting to hear about the frustration, competition, and uncertainty of this path of life, and it’s so odd how some people arrive to it after 10 years of traveling the world, some pursue it right from their undergrad years. what is enticing about academia

goals for this internship:

to experience the day-to-day of research beyond how i’ve romanticized/glorified it
to understand how a question is explored through lit reviews/study design/running the experiment/collecting data, etc
to be in an environment where research is discussed all the time
to understand what others who are farther along this path do, why they do it

what ended up happening (from my post-LCD internship reflection (an internship based on our Lab Manager’s internship experience at Harvard) and my comments in italics):

Were there any aspects of the research experience you would like to have seen in greater detail? How might we improve this?
I really liked how even though the study was already well on its way, Mahesh (my princip investigator) was still really open to ideas about making improvements based on our updated observations. I would have liked to hear more about the study history at the point I started testing kids just so I can understand the changes that have been made, why those changes are important, etc. This is definitely something I could have asked about on my own, though. Overall, the comprehensiveness of this internship is one of the biggest reasons it was such a worthwhile experience for me!

How effective was lab meeting? How might we improve this (we had reading groups, all-lab meeting for which we discussed new studies/presented our own studies, and meetings with Mahesh based on our specific study)?
I really liked lab meetings and reading groups, especially because so many of the mentors were also involved. I really appreciate that we were mentored before leading a reading group, and I REALLY appreciate the weekly meetings with Mahesh because he cared so much about our specific observations, and I got a lot out of each meeting. Mahesh helped me understand the ins and outs of our study and made me feel feel so involved, important, motivated and invested because he took the time to constantly meet with us and make our role in this study important.

I absolutely love talking about this study and musing on all the possible extensions/applications to real life and how real life experiences and interactions with children inform our understanding of the different patterns we see. Ahhh!!! Too cool.

Do you think this program helped you narrow your academic and/or career focus? If yes, how so? 

I went into college knowing that I wanted to study CogSci, and I’m really glad I got to explore one way of applying classroom knowledge — research! Career-wise, I think this internship was really good because my school would not be able to facilitate this kind of research. As much as I loved this internship, it also inspired me to think about other contexts in which child development research is needed/can be applied. I am really interested in education technology and this fall, I will be working for a company that designs learning tech. It’ll be very interesting to see if polysemy/prosody/any of the studies I read about this summer show up!

I also thought this was a good length for an internship. I got to try lots of different aspects of day-to-day research — recruiting, testing, coding, discussing the questions our study looks at — and I think I built a good knowledge base after interacting with around 40 kids this summer.

This internship also made me REALLY appreciate research papers… to understand the long process of revisions and work makes me really respect published papers because I can gain all of the knowledge and not have to put in the work for however long the study took to investigate!

Do you think this program showed you what working in developmental psychology is like? If yes, how so? If no, what more were you looking for? *

Yes!! Not sure what other developmental psych labs are like, but I thought my experience was very comprehensive, which is what I wanted. I wanted to be able to understand the research project from beginning to end and why a certain question would be investigated in a certain way. I think it would have been cool for me to do another study on top of my current one, because I didn’t have to go through the process of designing stimuli/writing the script for my main project since it was already in place by the time I got here! But I was able to talk to some interns who were working on a new project, and it was fun to hear about the different stages of different projects.

I’ve already seen how what i’ve learned here applies to so many work environments, especially the abilities to enter into a novel situation, quickly observe/emulate what others are doing well, and pipe up whenever I have a question. Everyone who had worked here in the lab before I got here was always so accommodating, patient, and nice, and I never felt embarrassed to ask a question. The day-to-day of this internship allowed me to understand clearly how I could apply certain skills here to any workplace in the future. I learned how to be organized with data, the importance of being consistent and following procedures, how to communicate with others when we are all editing the same files at different times, how to responsibly keep record of everything that I do in lab, what questions I can ask to further my understanding of everyone’s research, how I can do the same/repetitive/”easy” task well and more efficiently… etc. 🙂 I learned to value EVERY testing experience, even when I found myself frustrated with really uncooperative participants, because I could never anticipate what each child could teach me in the course of 20 minutes about how to be receptive to children’s shyness/discomfort, how to best respond to them in a way that is accommodating but consistent so that I don’t bias a child… and I saw seemingly uncooperative children defy my expectations as they opened up more and more throughout the study. I also learned how to make and hold conversation with every parent coming in, and how to respond when unfortunate mix-ups occur in the lab (parking spot is taken, same rooms are overbooked, etc).

This is the longest formal summer internship I’ve had, and first peek into research/academic. But with all that I’ve learned from it, and I’m still processing — I cannot imagine a more comprehensive first encounter with a field I’ve become so enthralled by.

Did you work with one of your top choices for research projects? If not, do you think this altered your experience in any way? How might we improve the intern-project matching system? *

I did! 🙂 To be honest, I didn’t realize how good of a fit my study was/how much I would LOVE investigating the questions of my study until I started! I’m not sure how you matched interns with projects 😦 But I was happy with mine! From here on out, I will always always nerd out about the topics my study explored 😀

How was your work load for the summer? Did you ever feel like you had too much or too little to do? *

It was a good amount of work! Some days were really chill (just scheduling) and other days were busy (lots of participants back to back) but I kind of liked how each day was different. To be honest, I felt that once i got the hang of things, it became comfortable, and then too easy. But that has nothing to do with research, just a realization of what I want. I think I’m more suited for something more fast-paced, with more variety and creativity and independence in tackling problems (will have a future post about the moment I felt this most “alive” this summer. More about all of this later.)

Did you feel like the interns were a cohesive group in lab and did you feel close to your other interns? What might we do to improve the camaraderie of the group? 

I think partnering with each other on the reading groups, if we didn’t have a fellow intern to work with on a study, was an excellent way to get to know someone you normally wouldn’t work with. I also really liked how we had readings for everyone and also readings for our specific study. I liked the outings and how we invited interns from other labs! Potlucking was also very fun ^_^ Idk tbh it was cool at first to meet all these people but I ended up not being that close with them? Which is fine. not that they weren’t good, interesting, fun people, but idk.. hm. 

_____________________________________________________

What could have made this experience better?

I think I’m satisfied with having done it during the summer, because there’s NO WAY it would be worth it to do this during the schoolyear, paid or not. However, I think I would have been happier to work 3 really long days instead of 4 shorter ones. I didn’t REALLY mind the commute because I honestly enjoy taking the train and listening to my own thing and not having to immediately go back home after work because sometimes my family crowds me after I come back from a long day when I just want to be completely by myself. I now better understand the work rhythm of a commute, which YES I could have gotten from just experiencing it for maybe 3 weeks instead of 9. Another feeling of restlessness comes from the fact that I’m a student and I want to constantly be experiencing new things without having to be an adult and settle into the way things are. My parents get really annoyed when I want to go out on my off days, because to them, I’m finally not working and should be contributing to life at home, or resting instead of constantly looking to go out. And that honestly is one of the top reasons I’m so frustrated with home… my parents see me as a highschooler still when I’d be off doing whatever I wanted in college. And they don’t get how I need and crave this constant stimulation and learning ESPECIALLY WHEN I ACTUALLY HAVE TIME FOR HANGING OUT, for once in my life. Which is why I took advantage of the train and how it could take me anywhere with a few dollars. I made it a point to stop at every interesting BART station, a different one every day, to really see just ANYTHING arond me. I value spontaneity so much, and am really grateful for the time to do random stuff on my own without the guilt of “oh i need to go home to do ____.”

I guess when i say all of this, it makes it sound like I had a bomb summer. But actually… summer was SO long and this is reflection is really so minimal (AAHHA after 2300 words of this reflection post lol ironic but so typical of me) compared to all that I could say or learn. And honestly… it wasn’t fun because of the circumstances. It was fun because I tried so so hard to get THE MOST out of every ounce of it. Which was stressful. it’s a good skill to have, to make any moment a meaningful one. Which reminds me of the way I saw my really sucky senior year… a good habit but a habit that often makes me even “overanalyze” (if there is such a thing) experiences that I should just simply sit back and enjoy.

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3 thoughts on “the post-research research

  1. Haha I’m TOTALLY the same way in the overanalyzing respect. And yes, you can never have enough to say even after 2300 words, that’s how I am with my journals and whatnot.

    So it seems like you got to dabble in a lot of different areas of research, like creating the experiments, scheduling, actually conducting the experiments, etc. I think it’s so cool that you get to experience the entire research process, because I have definitely noticed that outside of research, say in industry, you’re so limited to one area; you’ll be either doing field work, coding, scheduling and running meetings, etc… With that in mind, do you think you would consider doing academia a bit more strongly? I find that to be a very unique quality 🙂

    Also, what are your plans and hopes for next summer? I know it seems so far off but time flies so quickly

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    1. Ohmygosh I think I just read your reply for the first time. I think it’s interesting that industry seems so much more fast-paced and exciting so I’m more drawn to trying my hand at that while sooo many people are very focused on academia at Pomona. I don’t reallyy know what I want; at this point, research is such an available opportunity at Pomona that it actually makes me want to try out industry experiences since they seem so much harder to obtain. But yeah I’m sooo spoiled at Pomona in terms of being HANDED research opps.

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  2. OoOoh YAH I love this whole reply thing GOOD THINKING DUNEY ❤ ❤ you're so right, I did get to try a lot (mad props to you for reading all that…), even though even that started to feel repetitive (I think it's that it felt easy). My Pomona prof actually already offered for me to do my own independent research project under her, which would involve being at Pomona for about 5-8 weeks next summer, and IDK i feel like I would be antsy there. I'll definitely have friends who are doing research and I think it's such a valuable experience but that would mean I would essentially continuously be at Pomona from the beginning of my sophomore year, til the summer after sophmore year, til … the end of junior year? Hm I think I would love to work abroad and try something completely different. This girl in my lab, who graduated from Penn State this spring, actually got a job working at Stanford for a year next year, and it's comforting to know that I could always go back to Cal, or even some other similar lab if I really wanted to since I got to try so much at this lab. I definitely need to have the courage to look into more ambitious summer things though — this last spring, I was so lucky I applied to this on a whim and happened to get it even though it was rolling admissions. I actually got an internship with a talent management company this fall, but didn't want to do it because I would rather solidly do school and be with school people instead of running off to LA twice a week like I did during my spring semester.

    THE ACADEMIA DREAM would to do Ui/UX design. that's actually something I looked into very seriously this summer because I have the time to just browse the internet.. which in some ways is all I really want sometimes. To actually be able to click on interesting-links guilt free and explore them and see where they lead me and have my laptop screen fill up with tabs on tabs and tabs. I'm also getting back into art this fall, and now that I finally have the vocabulary to describe what I think I'm into, in retrospect I think that I studied CogSci for the HCI/Ui/UX aspect of it … !! Sad that Pomona doesn't really offer that many classes on perception or pragmatics or affordances so I might have to go to Pitzer for that.

    Recently…. I've also considered doing an econ double??! which would mean 6-7 more econ classes, hmmm which forces me to rethink my motivations. More on that later.

    AND YOU?? how's buzzfeed looking. :O and does Google do return offers for interns?

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