Eisner Amper Blog Challenge - 1st Prize Winner

Taking Chances: My Summer Job 2015

Eisner Amper Blog Challenge

Alexandra Trant – SS PPES


For the 2014/15 academic year, I was chosen by Trinity to study on exchange at Georgetown University in Washington DC.  For three months last summer, I was a Research Assistant for Professor Irene Jillson in Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies.  I did not attain this position through the conventional route of CV and cover letter application.  Instead, this position materialized through pursuing opportunities off the beaten track, fostering relations and not being afraid to be a little bit bold.

My first meeting with Professor Jillson arose through a complete coincidence.  For a journalism class, I reported on symphysiotomy in Ireland, a medical phenomenon that was little known in Ireland let alone America.  Thus I was shocked to find that Prof. Jillson had published one of the few studies on the subject.  Within a week I had interviewed her for my project.  Within a month we were meeting regularly to discuss various topics.  Within three months, I was her research assistant.  These series of events occurred due to a willingness to commit to an academic relationship outside of my regular coursework, seeing an opportunity and not being afraid to offer my services as a Research Assistant even when I was unsure if a position was available.

This position taught me invaluable skills, especially for my final year.  I conducted my research independently, meeting with my Professor once every week.  I had to remain self-motivated and adhere to strict deadlines.  I found this form of time management initially difficult, but it has been an instrumental skill for planning my dissertation.  I have also learned many research techniques, such as analytic and editing skills, which will be vital for improving the numerous essays coming my way.  This will also prove advantageous throughout my future career, as many of the jobs I’m interested in, such as policy and consulting, require strong problem-solving, analytic and editing capabilities.

The most rewarding aspect of my work was also the most challenging. Much of the research intersected health and policy, an area that I’m passionate about, and exploring this subject in depth was gratifying.  However it could be overwhelming to gather realms of information on this often broad topic. I felt that I could never know enough to produce an accurate study.  Nonetheless, my high of this experience was the opportunity to contribute to research on a topic I loved.  A low was discovering the bureaucracy in academic research, such as overly rigid journal requirements.  It did however enlighten my understanding of academic publishing.

For students looking to find a summer internship or work experience, my advice would be to pursue some less conventional routes alongside traditional applications. Don’t be afraid to email a firm with a CV expressing interest, even if there’s no specific job advertised.  Similarly, if you know of a Professor who is conducting research on a topic you are intrigued by, get in touch with them.  Nothing negative can come from taking a chance.

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