Becoming an intern at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation under Dr. Callie Edwards was one of the best decisions I have ever made. At first, I was reluctant that I would be a good fit for the position since I never had the opportunity to do any type of research in the past; however, I came to realize that this internship was a learning opportunity for me to grow my knowledge about research and no experience was required. When I began the internship, my major was elementary education, and I was unfamiliar with all the types of job opportunities that the educational research field held. Throughout this internship, however, I learned what educational researchers do firsthand by working with several different members of the Program Evaluation and Education Research (PEER) Group.
I completed the internship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore the majority of the projects that I contributed to dealt with at-home and equitable learning for all. To get a better idea of the technologies researchers use, I was taught to use Tableau, Qualtrics, the NC State library database and Excel to complete tasks and organize/compile data. After completing a project, big or small, I knew that I was making a positive impact on the community around me, especially during COVID.
One of the goals for the interns was to help the PEER Group complete projects in a timely manner, as some projects were time sensitive. For example, I helped on a time sensitive project that, once completed, allowed for a county school board to decide whether schools were to go back in person or not. When applying for the internship, I never thought that as an entry-level employee that I would be helping with such important tasks, and I now truly appreciate the trust and faith that the team has in the interns to help with every project.
After seeing the impact I could make on the community as just an intern in educational research, I began envisioning myself as a researcher one day. This led me to the decision to change my major to psychology to attend graduate school in the future in an educational research-related field. I never thought that when starting this internship that I would discover so much not only about research but about myself. I encourage anyone, no matter your major, to apply for this opportunity because although the specific work we do is related to education, the skills we gain can be applied to everyday life and our future careers.