What to Expect From a Scientific Research Internship

By: Nina Pelsi, DePaul University health sciences major ’19

Once I landed my first internship freshman year, I was ecstatic. As part of DePaul’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP) of the College of Science and Health, I was chosen to work with a former professor of mine, Dr. Kim Amer, who I respect immensely. With decades of experience working as a registered nurse, Dr. Amer had extensive advice and knowledge in science and medicine to offer.

So, what did I learn from my first research position? Managing expectations is key. Here is what you should (and shouldn’t) expect from your first scientific research experience:

1. Don’t expect to change the world or cure cancer. I’m not trying to burst your bubble, but this is unlikely to be the research that catapults you into fame and success in science. Instead, expect to learn a lot about the research process itself, and you will come away with boatloads of applicable knowledge on how to find what you’re looking for and present it in a meaningful way.

2. Expect to sift through dozens and dozens of unrelated and possibly unhelpful articles before finding one that aligns with what you’re looking for. Throughout this entire summer, Dr. Amer and I only found 20 articles to analyze for our review of literature. This is normal! Remember, quality trumps quantity in scientific research.

3. Expect it to be challenging and time-consuming, but equallyif not morerewarding. Research is very much a process; it’s going to take a long time to conduct initial research, compile the information into figures and/or charts, interpret and analyze results, draw conclusions, and put together a written, oral, or visual display. This last step is when you finally get to see that all of your hard work has paid off, and it is one of the best feelings!

Good luck! I hope this advice helps you mentally prepare for your research position and get the very most out of your experience.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Global Brigader

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

Are you interested in helping rural communities in underdeveloped nations? Do you want to have hands-on experience in the health, business, human rights or environmental industries?

Brendan ComuzziThe Global Brigades at DePaul give you this opportunity while spending time in another country and making a difference in people’s lives. Brendan Comuzzi, biology major, current co-president for the DePaul Chapter and former water brigade program director, answered some questions to demystify the program.

What is Global Brigades?

Global Brigades is the largest non-profit student-led global health and sustainable development organization in the world. Global “Brigaders” are college students who go on 1-3 week trips to rural communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Ghana to promote development challenges. The DePaul chapter has 8 different Brigades, spanning the health, environmental, business and human rights fields. Brendan said his experience in the Medical Brigades meant a lot to him, as “the joy of the community members is infectious.”

What will I learn?

There are a lot of benefits from interning abroad, even for short periods of time. As for the Brigades, Brendan said, “as cliché as it sounds, it really can be a life-changing experience.” By working directly with the less fortunate, you learn compassion, problem solving, accountability and adaptability, to name a few. You’re learning to create professional proposals to solve real-world problems that are right in front of you, so you are always kept on your toes.

…it [the Brigades] really can be a life-changing experience

How can this help academically?

Along with going on the trip to one of the aforementioned countries, you can also enroll in the UIP 367 course to fulfill your Experiential Learning Credit. The class starts once you return from the trip, and you learn about both sides of working for a non-profit organization. You’ll work on unpacking your experience and how to use your newfound skills in future career opportunities. It’s a pretty unique experience to go on an immersion trip and take a correlating career development class after. According to Brendan, “passing up this opportunity is almost criminal!”

Why should I apply?

While experience is a great reason to apply, there are so many benefits to this program. For example, thanks to the Brigades, Brendan discovered his interest in pursuing a career in international medicine. On top of the great immersion experience, Brendan and his fellow Brigaders have kept in touch with the education chair of the organization. He is still active in certain aspects of their education material, even though he has moved on to a different title.

Another reason you should apply? “The Global Brigades is also very open to helping their students find future opportunities and continuing the passion they found while on their trip,” Brendan said.

If you are interested in applying to be a Brigader or want to find out more information about the 8 different platforms that you can volunteer under, please email depaul@globalbrigades.org. One factor to keep in mind is that you must fundraise or pay for your trip to the country – this is not a paid position. However, there are many ways to fundraise your expenses and the program directors are more than willing to help you come up with ways to pay for this unforgettable experience. Brendan’s one tip is to start fundraising early!

Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program (UIP)? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.