Edited Katherine Sinyanvin

Every week, students interning with the Summer Institute for Social Research Methods and the Communications Team in the Division of the Social Sciences filled out a survey that catalogued their various experiences. The survey asked interns to reflect on questions such as why they decided on this particular internship, what it is like to work from home, and what they found surprising or unexpected about their internship. The following is a sample of some of the interns’ responses.

Why did you decide to intern with SISRM or Social Sciences Communications this summer? What skills and experiences do you hope to gain?

“I've always been fascinated by social media, as well as the research SSD drives in. That's why I thought working for SSD would be a perfect chance for me to explore two of my already existing interests. Moreover, this work will give me a chance to learn more about the education field and social media as a profession. I'm really interested in talking to professors from SSD and creating features of them on social media. I hope to experiment with different ways of utilizing and mobilizing social media.”

  • Laura Chen, rising 4th year SSD Intern

“I decided to intern with SSD in order to gain experience in marketing and communications, as well as data analytics work. In addition, I have already been working for Communications during the school year prior to this summer, so I felt comfortable and motivated in the environment.”

  • Yejie Lee, rising 3rd year SSD Intern

“I am interested in learning about the more people-oriented and ethical sides of medicine, as well as their social impacts. I thought that interning with SISRM would be a good way to not just learn about these relevant topics, but also what goes on behind the scenes on an administrative level. Furthermore, I do not have research experience in this area; I have only ever worked in wet labs before so it will be interesting to learn about research that involves people. By the end of this internship, I hope to gain a better sense of what research in the social sciences is and the different ways it is conducted (especially with the current situation in which people might not have access to certain resources). I would also like to learn more about what the actual process of making research and events happen looks like.”

  • Connie Chen, rising 2nd year SSIRM Intern

What are some of the challenges of working from home? What are some advantages?

“Working from home can sometimes deplete some of my motivation to work if I don't follow a set structure or routine. It can also be hard to connect with others, especially when my wifi is malfunctioning. I appreciate that working from home feels flexible. It feels like there's more freedom to take breaks when necessary. For the most part, I also do like working independently.”

  • Laura Chen, rising 4th year SSD Intern

“Some challenges of working from home include fatigue from working on the computer and not being able to interact with my peers and make meaningful connections. Advantages include working either inside or outside when I want, and I am able to spend more time with my family.”

  • Jaden Rismay, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

“It's nice that I can work on my own schedule at my own pace. I also find it easier to relax at home. However, it can get kind of lonely because I don't get to actually see my coworkers and peers in real life.

  • Connie Chen rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

What have been some of your favorite experiences of your internship so far?

“I loved managing a Zoom breakout room during Amit Anshumali's workshop. I was able to generate a very robust discussion with some amazing research assistants. I learned a lot and got to use some of my leadership skills!”

  • Josh Sulkin, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

“The best experiences have been working with the other SISRM intern, Josh. I also enjoy going into Zoom breakout rooms with the other interns because that is when I have the chance to really get to know them.”

  • Jaden Rismay, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

“Editing videos is fun, and I get to do a lot of that during my internship. Besides that, Communications has arranged conversations for me with working professionals in the videography and photography fields, and I've gotten a lot of inspiration and information out of them.”

  • Zeke Brown, rising 2nd year SSD Intern

What are some aspects or experiences of your internship that you were not expecting going into it?

“Going into my internship, I wasn't expecting to interact as much with the professors as I do now. This has allowed me to feel more comfortable around professors and not be afraid of having a conversation. Hopefully, when I'm back on campus, I can have more casual conversations with them and be more open to asking them about their research as a result of this experience.”

  • Jaden Rismay, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

“I wasn't expecting to have to coordinate the logistics of meetings and recordings as much as I have been. It hasn't been a problem, but my internship is certainly more people-intensive than I had anticipated, especially with it being remote.”

  • Zeke Brown, rising 2nd year SSD Intern

“I was pleasantly surprised by how many SISRM workshops there were, from which I have had the opportunity to learn!”

  • Josh Sulkin, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

A big part of interning with SISRM and SSD involves reaching out and initiating conversations with others, whether it be students, faculty members, or administrators. What interactions like these have you had? What have you learned from them?

“I have been interviewing students for the SISRM newsletter, and I have learned a lot about the Social Sciences, UChicago, and life in general! This morning, I had a lovely interview with Gustavo, who discussed his passion for city planning and the union between economics and GIS. I had absolutely no idea that GIS and economics had so many applications to each other! He also showed me how many of his research interests have direct connections to his community in Brazil, which taught me the importance of using our intelligence and knowledge to circulate knowledge not just within our discipline's ivory tower but also to people in our own communities that can be uplifted by new ideas and new ways of thinking.”

  • Josh Sulkin, rising 2nd year SISRM Intern

“I've had to interview two students and an associate professor for one of my videos, and I learned a lot about how to construct questions so that the person can't help but answer in a positive way. You generally want quick soundbites rather than long stretches of technical explanation, and I made my fair share of mistakes in provoking long stretches of technical explanation that could not be used for a 3-5 minute promotional video.” 

  • Zeke Brown, rising 2nd year SSD Intern

“I've reached out to several faculty to help conduct social media interviews for the SSD. I've learned to be very prepared with my interview questions and very clear in my emails before and after the interviews. These interviews have also taught me to not only be professional but confident in myself.”

  • Laura Chen, rising 4th year SSD Intern