As a Film and Media Studies major with a minor in psychology, I feel so lucky to have found an internship that aligned so fittingly with my interests with the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. As an intern I conduct interviews, publish articles, participate in team meetings, promote the team on media platforms and so much more. One of my favorite experiences thus far is being as a guest author on a blog for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
My favorite part of this research team is not only the fascinating research they conduct, but also their passion for helping and improving the lives of children and adolescents. I was able to participate in a focus group in which the research team and I went out to interview tweens to learn firsthand how they perceived their own technology usage. It was fascinating to see the way fifth graders were already heavily involved in social media, cell phone usage, texting and gaming. It was eye-opening to hear the students voicing their concerns about the amount of time they and their family spend on devices. It showcased not only the importance of conducting clinical research surrounding technology usage, but also the necessity of attempting to find ways technology use can be managed and made better for mental health.
These issues made me reflect on the importance of SMAHRT’s work and of communicating their message and mission with the greater public. This, combined with my passion for communication, led me to delve into an independent project creating videos for the team. The videos will be online to be used for promoting the team’s work, as well as for outreach and conferences. It has been a learning experience in all facets: story-boarding, learning the equipment, video interviewing and more. I am so grateful to have this opportunity, as it has become something I wake up excited to work on and learn from everyday when I come into work.
Furthermore, being an intern at SMAHRT has made me feel like an invaluable member of the team. I am invited not only to attend, but to participate in meetings. In several of the weekly meetings visiting professors attended and answered questions about their career paths and research. In one notable meeting, a professor and researcher was visiting whose research involves mental health and technology in Australia. Coincidentally, Melbourne is where I will be studying in the spring and I had the chance to meet with her one-on-one to discuss the work she was doing there!
Recently, I have been a mentor for an event called Summer Scholars that the team hosts, in which rising juniors and seniors in high school from the greater Seattle area come to learn about the STEM field. As a mentor, I was able to have fascinating conversations about pertinent topics in adolescent health, as well as tour the bench labs and hospital and hear from panelists in a variety of careers.
This internship has given me the chance not only to hone and confirm skills and interests that I came with, but also to expand my understanding of myself and what I want out of my future career. I am certain that that there are aspects of this workplace I would desire out of any future career: a passionate, open-minded, innovative and collaborative team which allows for creativity and growth. I am also eager to pursue videography and continue studying the more technical aspects of film making upon returning to Whitman!
Experiences like Allison’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.