The question “So what do you plan to do with your summer?” always leads to a discussion of my previous summer jobs, many of which haven’t ever been directly tied to my future career aspirations. This summer though, I have a different answer at the ready . When that inevitable question is asked, I proudly answer “I’m an intern at OHSU, in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences!” What follows tends to be a great conversation about what work I am engaged in, if I’m enjoying it, and how I am liking the commute. Coming from Newberg, OR all the way up to the hill can be a long drive, but it is so worth it! As a Summer Intern in the Occupational Health Sciences Internship program, my understanding of the research field has grown immensely and in many different ways. I have thoroughly loved spending my time in Dr. Ryan Olson’s lab and have gained valuable experience through collaborating with many wonderful people both in and out of the lab.
Being involved in the data collection process, which included everything from compiling and analyzing data to presenting, has taught me invaluable skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Learning how to take raw numbers and words and transform them into crucial and relatable discussion pieces has shown me the importance of work ethic. I discovered that when you invest yourself fully in the work you are doing, your investment and enthusiasm is reflected in your final product . Through my work on COMPASS (The COMmunity of Practice and Safety Support) I have learned things about two isolated worker populations, Home Care Workers and Personal Support Workers. My work has taken into account many different aspects of those groups’ service, much of which involves caring for others. Through gathering data on the tasks these workers carry out and how they feel about their jobs, my lab and I were able to identify two areas of focus that we can adapt trainings for and therefore better support this unique worker population. As we collected, analyzed, and reported our findings, I worked to compile all of our work into a poster presentation.
About two months after I started working in the lab, I had created a poster that was ready to present at the annual “Summer Intern Poster Session.” The Poster Session was a very unique and memorable experience, as it allowed all the interns to not only share their work but to also collaborate with other faculty from many different areas. While I was standing in front of my poster, surrounded by a steady bubble of conversation full of new discovery and research goals, I was reminded of the sense of community that places like OHSU aim to foster. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my findings and future research directions with all the faculty and family members that came to support, and I found myself immersed in even more ideas and questions about how I could further expand and develop my project to make even more of an impact. The experience of getting to share my work with a wide variety of esteemed researchers from so many different fields showed me that knowing how to alter your message for all types of audiences helps ensure everyone is understanding and grasping what you are trying to convey. The process of sharing and receiving feedback was a very nice culmination on top of a successful and educational summer. I will be heading back to Oregon State in the fall for my junior year, and I am eager to engage in more research and hope to continue to work with OHSU, as it has deeply shaped my future goals and aspirations. Being a summer intern expanded not only my work experience, but also my life experience.
From lunches with the lab at the farmer’s market, to getting to interact with research participants, to forming friendships with fellow interns, I can confidently say I have spent my summer doing something I have loved and hope to do again.
This post was submitted by Claire Boenisch, an intern from the 2018 Summer Internship Program. Claire interned in Dr. Ryan Olson’s lab.