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Invaluable experience

An internship experience is a good way to both increase your likelihood of getting hired and making more money, says Mike True, director of Messiah’s Internship Center.

Mike True talks about why internships are so important and what types of internship resources are available to Messiah students.

Many Messiah students interned over the summer. Lillian Smith, Derek Forney, and Kayla Davidson reflect on their experiences in a non-profit, inner city organization, public broadcast station, and medical center.

Lillian Smith
Brethren Housing Association, Harrisburg, Pa.

This summer, I worked at Brethren Housing Association (BHA) which is located in the Allison Hill area of Harrisburg. This was one of the most memorable summers of my life.

I was a summer camp coordinator and director. This was sort of a new position for me with the exception of working with children. This summer two other interns from Harrisburg Area Community College and I did a summer program called “Friends Forever” The goal of this program was to band together as friends to prevent bullying in our schools and neighborhoods. It was a seven-week long program, and we accepted 25 children to participate.

We taught the children about anti-bullying and what to do when confronted by a bully. They learned the importance of friendship and how to be a voice in their community or school so that they can learn and live in a safer environment. My staff and I prayed that the lessons and skills they learned at “Friends Forever” will help them in school or in the community when they see their friends being bullied or when they are being bullied themselves.

As an intern, I also met numerous people who love to serve and help others. I had volunteer workers from a program known as Youth Works, which receives people every week that want to serve and help others. We were blessed to have their Youth Works volunteers with us for four weeks. Each day was a new experience, a new funny moment, a moment children could not stop talking about even long after the volunteers were gone. We also had work camps come in the last three weeks.

As a summer intern, I learned the importance of leadership and reaching out to the community. It was an awesome experience to see how a summer program could really change a child’s life. Many of the children that I have worked with still communicate with me by phone. I am just so glad to be a part of a child’s life and look forward to next year!

Derek ForneyDerek Forney
WITF (public television), Harrisburg, Pa.

While at WITF, my responsibilities included working with producers and an editor. I transcribed interviews and organized a b-roll shoot at Messiah College among other various tasks. The shoot at Messiah was very interesting because I was given total responsibility for the shoot, including getting extras, arranging times and places, and working with an external entity. This was my favorite project because I was never really given instructions on what to do, but really had to take my knowledge of the project, college life, etc. and collaborate between WITF and Messiah.

Another great experience was sitting in on a production of “Smart Talk.” You can’t really understand what it takes to put a TV show together until you see it firsthand. This show in particular included a satellite feed which made it even more complicated but also a great learning experience.

I really enjoyed working with the staff and learning about broadcast production. I always knew the journalism side of broadcasting, but not the ins and outs of production. In my mind it always just happened. It was very interesting to see how staffers  take the story idea, research it, get interviews before it goes to production and post.

This internship experience was helpful in shaping my career goals. While I enjoyed my time at WTIF and learned a lot, I don’t think I could work at a place like that. I would be more interested in being involved in daily stories and news programs.

In the fall, I have an internship at ABC 27 that will give me a different perspective on the broadcast industry, so it will help me to see yet another option for my career and vocational goals. Specifically, I see my vocational goals being more directed to using my video and editing skills towards a PR aspect than a broadcast one.

Kayla DavidsonKayla Davidson
Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pa.

During the summer of 2010 I interned at the Center for NMR research (CNMRR) at the Penn State College of Medicine. The CNMRR is a magnetic resonance imaging facility for animal and human research. The lab provides MRI services and expertise to investigators at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State University at University Park. My supervisor was Dr. Paul Eslinger, professor of neurology at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. Dr. Eslinger holds joint appointments in neurology, pediatrics and the CNMRR.
At the commencement of my internship I created seven specific learning objectives in conjunction with appropriate resources and activities to achieve them as well as methods to substantiate my completion of them. These objectives ranged from obtaining a greater understanding of the research process in its entirety to exploring the various career venues within the field of neuropsychology. My other learning objectives included developing a working knowledge of the brain and its functions, familiarizing myself with the technical terminology of neuroimaging techniques, gaining experience in summarizing and presenting research findings, learning how to operate post-processing data analysis programs, and acquiring greater knowledge of the biological/neurological components characterizing Alzheimer’s disease.
During the first several weeks of my internship, a large part of my time was spent observing the research technicians working in the lab as they processed data and ran the Seimens T3 scanner. During this initial phase, I struggled to take in and digest the surfeit of new concepts and terms that suddenly bombarded me. This was an overwhelming, but nonetheless exciting, experience. It was somewhat analogous to visiting an exotic country for the first time—so much undiscovered territory that one doesn’t know where to start.
After this period of observation and having acquired a basic understanding of the fundamentals of MRI, I was gradually trained to operate post-processing data analysis programs such as spm5. I was given practice data to analyze and then checked it with experienced research technicians to ensure that my methodology was correct. When I was knowledgeable enough to work independently, I was assigned my first project. I worked on two distinct projects, which I alternated between, over the course of the summer. Both of these projects are ongoing. The one project is a pilot study aimed at examining the affect of visual and olfactory cues on binge eaters and smokers when compared with healthy controls. This study is in the initial stages of the research process, requiring much planning and preparation. My task is to design the paradigm for the visual stimuli.
The other project that I’m involved in is a morphological study examining the affects of prophylactic intrathecal chemotherapy on the brain structure of children who’ve received this treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Using a method called voxel-based morphometry (VBM), I performed the final statistical analysis which yielded significant results in support of the proposed hypothesis. I am currently drafting part of the abstract for the study.
When I began my internship I knew very little about fMRI or the human brain. Moreover, I hated research with a passion, believing it to be a boring and futile undertaking. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about my position and whether or not I would be capable of successfully completing the tasks I would be given. I have gained a plethora of knowledge and rich experiences over the past twelve weeks. In addition to accomplishing my learning objectives of learning more about neuroimaging techniques, the various aspects of the research process and how to run post-processing data analysis programs, I also learned how to administer and score a neuropsychological testing battery, how to design a study paradigm using a program called E-prime, and the general conceptual framework behind various statistical methodologies. Other significant experiences include learning the importance of networking, attending a wide array of conferences and collaboratively working on projects with scholars of diverse academic disciplines. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve discovered a passion I did not know I had for the brain and that I actually enjoy research.
Future Plans
As a result of participating in this internship, I have renewed enthusiasm for attending graduate school next fall. Moreover, having discovered that I enjoy research and working with imaging technology, I have been able to narrow my graduate school search to Ph D and Psy. D programs with research emphasis on addictive behaviors, perhaps having neuroimaging facilities, and a neuropsychological concentration. I also feel more confident in my ability to successfully take on the challenges, commit the time, and put forth the effort necessary in the attainment of a doctoral degree.

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