This summer was an amazing opportunity for me to experience a real lab setting performing real experiments that haven’t been explored before. Handed with much freedom but also responsibility, my shoulders were heavy in the beginning, unsure about my ability to pull through the research. I am grateful for all of the guidance I had with the lab’s Postdocs who have provided help, direction, and answered many of my questions. They were very supportive of my work, encouraging me to explore further and be more experimental, as well as giving advice on post-graduation careers, including graduate school.
I was mostly inspired about research and this summer research internship got me thinking more heavily about pursuing a career in batteries and continuing to graduate school after Berkeley. To see the Lawrence Lab researchers confidently making research decisions through their previous experiences and other research papers, I wanted to also reach such level of comfortability in my work and my field of choice. Although this will still need even more years of studying, I am ready to take small steps towards my goal and work hard towards it.
As a researcher, I have also grown in multiple aspects. Mainly, I learned how to be in a researcher mindset: questioning the validity, troubleshooting, keeping an eye out for safety, and other miscellaneous works that go along with the actual experiment. Before, I felt like I was more of a do-what-you-are-told researcher. But working with experienced researchers, I was able to think more like a research frontier. Another thing I have gained is the ability to outline the work before I actually get my hands on it. First few weeks, I would start work and had to often stop myself to ask questions, ask for or find instruments and materials, and confirm the procedure. However, through practice and mistakes, I was soon able to safely perform research, thinking through the steps I would take in my head before actually beginning in order to ensure a safe and successful experiment.
The biggest difference I had on a personal level was going to work regularly from 9am to 5pm. It definitely contrasted with school times. The work definitely held more responsibility during these hours but afterwards, I was freer to have more time for myself. I had the opportunity to explore new hobbies, enjoy some free time, and socialize with housemates. Additionally, it was different to live with a routine — sleeping and waking up at regular times. Now that I am back into the semester, buried in endless homework, quizzes, and exams, I am already missing the “internship summer.”
This summer was a great opportunity and this research internship will most likely have a long lasting impact on how I am as a researcher and as a human. I have grown to be more disciplined, motivated, and hardworking. It solidified the direction I want to take my career and gave me an experience in real research settings. Again, I would like to thank my manager, Postdocs, and CalEnergy Corps for this great gift of Summer 2021.