My experience at the Friday Institute has been one of the best possible internship experiences I could’ve asked for. It all started about a year ago. This was a pilot year, so I had no expectations or insight on what I was getting myself into. I applied to the work study internship, and Dr. Callie Edwards (my supervisor) walked me through the whole hiring process. From the start, Dr. Edwards asked us about what background we were coming from, what skills we had and what we could be able to bring to the work-study internship. Her support was instrumental in our success. I learned a lot about the education side of research and what the Friday Institute did to fulfill its duty as a research institute.
Our first project was a project between me and the rest of the team members where we were fulfilling instrument requests for researchers across the world. We shared resources and instruments that the Friday Institute created. It felt good helping others with their research and projects.
Our second project was conducting literature reviews. We were in charge of conducting and compiling research material for a project concerning STEM in rural or minority areas across the state. I learned a lot about how to efficiently gather your materials, where you search within databases to get scholarly material, and how to organize it using tools such as Excel so you can find duplicates and eliminate the redundant material.
The third project was about transcribing interviews being conducted by the Program Evaluation and Education Research (PEER) Group. Here, we watched interviews be conducted in regards to COVID-19 and how public schools were handling the COVID-19 crisis. It was interesting to see what things were working and what things did not and where we could improve.
At the end of our first semester, Dr. Edwards conducted a final assessment where they gave me valuable feedback on my performance and let me input my own ideas to the team. My idea was to add a Slack channel for the interns. This gave me insight into the importance of an open workplace where everyone’s ideas hold weight.
This semester, Dr. Edwards had me work on a project that exemplified my skillset. Since I am fluent in Spanish, I worked on a Spanish translation project translating information forms and pamphlets that held resources Wake County had for its community. Thanks to the team for believing in my abilities to translate these documents. I had never experienced such support from my team members before to work on an individual project such as this one.
Apart from these projects, we also participated in weekly meetings where Dr. Edwards hosted the PEER group members and sometimes an additional guest or two. We had a whole series with Dr. Picart where we learned about inclusion and equity and what that looks like in practice. We also had a visit from our own school librarian, who taught us Excel skills and how to use NC State Library’s databases and tools.
We also learned about using Tableau during one of the meetings in our first semester. Tableau is a software that helps present data in an interactive manner. I eventually ended up using Tableau in one of my classes. This helped me not only know the programming language or one of the tools for my business career later on but also gave me a leg up during one of my classes, so I was very happy about how that turned out.
I have nothing but good things to say about this experience. The team is very supportive and always available to help you develop as a professional. There is also a range of projects that help you improve your strengths and weaknesses.
I would highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in education or if somebody is looking to learn more about research.