An Enriching Summer

I can’t believe we’re about to finish week 8 of this internship program. Time has been going so fast and I’ve gained so much knowledge in the past few weeks. 

This internship has definitely let me build skills that I would have never gotten otherwise. The main one being graphic design skills which I never thought I would gain from a marine biology internship. Adobe Illustrator was definitely frustrating to figure out at first, but once I got the hang of it I’ve really enjoyed delving more into my artistic side. When I was a freshman in high school I thought that I wanted to be an animator but slowly lost passion for that over the course of high school. While I no longer have the desire to pursue a career in art, this internship has allowed me to rekindle my artistic side while combining it with my scientific side. 

Some of my old artwork from high school. The bottom one I submitted to the Tri-Valley Art Show where it won for Mixed Media!

On the science side, I have definitely learned how to better read scientific articles. During my undergrad, reading scientific articles was often a daunting task, especially during my thesis project. Much of the language was so complex and sometimes hard to interpret. But after spending about three weeks reading over 100 scientific papers, they are no longer as intimidating as they once were. Interestingly, it even restarted my interest in reading books.  

Another important thing that I have learned about is informational interviews and how helpful these can be. I’ve always had anxiety around asking for help, especially if it requires a meeting as I am worried about bothering people. But with all my conversations with ODFW employees, I have been pleasantly surprised as to how open people are to speaking with me to talk about their paths and provide advice. I always appreciate the enthusiasm they bring to our conversation and the genuine interest that have in helping me in my career path. Even within the CEI program, I’ve been surrounded by people to ask for advice and to help me build connections with others. Networking is definitely a huge part of any career path and I’ve learned to be less afraid to build those connections. 

On that note, I’ve been surprised by simply how many things each person within the organization is working on. Every person I have talked to seems to be working on about 100 projects at once and it just seems to be magic that they still get everything done. Despite their busy schedules, they still find time in their day to meet with me which just makes me that much more appreciative of them. 

Another surprising thing for me was how I haven’t been burnt out by virtual work yet. After a year and a half of doing college virtually and already at Zoom burnout, I have been surprisingly okay with doing the whole internship virtually. Not sure if it’s the change in settings, if I’ve just finally gotten used to the virtual world, or if I just really enjoy the work, but being in front of my computer for 8 hours a day hasn’t been as exhausting as I thought it would be. I even find the energy occasionally to spend an hour or two after the workday to edit a couple of my undergraduate projects for publication.

Some of the gelatinous creatures I found last summer at OIMB while I was working on my thesis project. Left: Clione, middle: Aurelia aurita, right: Eutonia indicans.

If I could do anything differently, it would be to have engaged with people earlier on in my internship. It took until about week 4 or 5 for me to start setting meetings to talk with professionals as I was just finding myself overwhelmed with having to talk with them one-on-one. But these conversations have been so beneficial to my learning, as well as a great break from just sitting alone in my room and working.

~Yalin 🐟

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