Government Doctoral Student Patrick Hickey
The IE program offers an enriching experience to both interns and mentors. I've participated in the program twice and can't say enough good things about it. As a mentor, my favorite part of the program is watching the interns mature, grow, and progress throughout the semester. On the surface, my two interns were very different in almost every way; including personality, gender, race, and academic interests. Despite these surface differences, they shared two important qualities that all good students have in common - a desire to grow academically and the enthusiasm to put forth the necessary effort. Thanks to these two key components, the semester was an enlightening experience for all of us.
What I like best about the IE program is the mentor's freedom to tailor activities to the intern's interests. I provide interns ideas on potential activities, and then offer them the chance to "choose their own adventure." This approach allows interns to take ownership of their academic journey. Among other activities, I've taken interns to graduate classes, explained the logic of scientific inquiry and the basics of statistical methods, encouraged interns to design research projects, and helped interns carry out these research projects. This semester I had the pleasure of seeing my intern present the results of his research to leading academics from all over the United States at a major conference in Chicago. The freedom to tailor the experience to each intern is invaluable because every intern has their own set of interests, experiences, and goals for the future.
Serving as a mentor not only helps the interns grow academically, it helps me grow as well. Working with the interns inspires my own work in three ways. First, explaining the basics of research design always makes me consider how well my own research lives up to those ideals. Second, our discussions constantly inspire me to look at my research in a new light, prompting both new research questions and better answers. Third, the interns themselves are an inspiration. Their enthusiasm, desire, and effort are amazing. Watching them mature academically, make their own intellectual discoveries, and thrive on their own after their participation in the program reminds me why I went to graduate school in the first place. I cannot say enough good things about the IE program, especially the students I've mentored. They are truly remarkable and make the IE program worthwhile for all involved.