Speech-Language-Pathology Junior Jennifer Adams
As a junior in the CSD department for Speech-Language Pathology, I knew that Graduate School was inevitably in my future. A master's is the minimum education required and I didn't know the first thing about grad school! To be honest, I was afraid to even think about it. When I heard of an internship that focuses on showing undergraduate students what to expect from graduate school, I knew I should take advantage of such an opportunity.
As I talked with, and really got to know my mentor, I found out what all she went through in preparing to go to grad school. She was nervous and scared like I was. Being able to know those details and see how much success she's had in her graduate school program was a huge encouragement! I had never had the chance to talk about my fears and questions with someone who had just gone through the same thing! That simple aspect of this internship was enough in and of itself to increase my understanding of what a graduate student goes through. As the semester progressed, I was able to start my own research project. I had an amazing hands-on experience with how paper work is done to get approval for a project, the preparation involved, how to analyze data that was collect, and how to take proper care of confidentiality after the research data has been collected. These are things that my mentor had to learn on her own when she started grad school. I felt so very privileged to gain such a head start on basic information that my peers will learn the hard way. Being able to conduct a research study helped me understand what graduate school research is. I had always thought of research as a lab setting with people in white coats running experiments and speaking to each other in code. Now I finally realize that research is a way to simply find an answer to a question. Sounds silly, rightwell, it opened a huge door for me! It seemed to give me confidence in my ability to handle what grad school was going to throw my way.
Another amazing part of my intern experience was the conference that my mentor and I were able to attend. Through the internship, we were able to apply for a travel grant to attend any conference in our field of interest. My mentor and I went to a conference in New York City, all expenses paid! Without having to worry about any costs, we were able to focus on meeting people and learning about breakthrough research that was being done. I would never have dreamed that I would ever have an opportunity to meet so many people from around the world, in one weekend. I was even able to tell them about this internship, and so many of them said that they wished they'd had such an opportunity when they were a junior in college! These are successful professors who have found so much success in this field, who envy what I'm getting out of this internship! That blew my mindand I felt that I would never be able to get this kind of experience, coaching, personal growth, and hands-on experience in any other college course or job.
What the IE Pre-Grad Internship Program provides is a chance to be the wide-eyed undergraduate that we are! It allowed me to be completely honest with my mentor and ask her questions that I thought I was expected to already know: from how to apply to grad school to data analysis. If I hadn't have participated in this program, I don't know if I would have ever had such a real and meaningful understanding of what grad school is like! After a semester of shadowing a grad student, I feel prepared to apply to a graduate program and I now know that it is a part of my future that I look forward to, rather than something to fear.