August 24, 2011

The end is drawing near on my days as an intern. Luckily, I know that I have a job here after I finish my class in the fall. I have really had a great time working here at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The people I worked with were very nice, personable and eager to help teach me new things. I was able to go out on a ship, take a trip to California for a conference, participate in an experiment, help design an experiment, revise official documents and even experience my first earthquake while at work! Virginia is a neat state; there is so much to do here. I spent many weekends sightseeing in Washington D.C. and didn’t come close to doing everything I wanted to. It will be difficult to leave next week and head back to school because I have met some really great friends here. I’m sure time will fly by and I’ll be back in Virginia in no time!

The past two weeks have been very busy here at work. I have been working on at least three different projects. The top two things I have learned from working here are multitasking and time management. Sometimes it was overwhelming to come into work and know that you have five different things that need to get done that day or have upcoming due dates and you don’t know where to start. I like to make to-do lists in order to help me stay on track and get the things that absolutely need to get done that day accomplished. My list consists of no more than six items and is listed from most to least important. Whatever doesn’t get done that day becomes first on the list for the next day. Also, staying in contact with your supervisor or team lead is very important even if you fall behind. It’s good to let them know where you are on each project. Another thing I’ve had to get use to was reading very large documents, quickly. In school I remember being given much smaller documents (e.g., 20 pages) and thinking how difficult that was. Most of the documents I’ve read here were anywhere from 50-200 pages! Granted, we didn’t have to read the entire document but it was still overwhelming.

One of the new projects I’ve been working on the past couple weeks is looking at sailors’ ability to hear and communicate in a high noise environment. I’ve been able to sit in on meetings where we discussed the experimental design of the study, what the goals are going to be and how we are going to set up the lab in order to carry out the study. The area of research I have enjoyed the most is doing the hands-on setup of the experiment and running participants. The end result is rewarding too, when you find out what all the data means. Participating in all these different experimental design projects has been very helpful for when I tackle my own thesis. I’ve been advised to anticipate road blocks and to be willing to roll with the punches, so to speak.

This is my last entry before I head back to school. I hope you have learned a lot from my internship experience and are inspired to apply for one yourself. One thing I have learned from this experience is that it’s never too early to start an internship. Just because you’re a freshman does not mean you cannot do an internship. Many of the people here have been interns for many years and some even started in high school! If you find a company/position you really enjoy, you may be able to continue working for them until you graduate then walk straight into a fulltime job. If you’re new to Embry-Riddle, get involved with your department, get to know your professors (they have many contacts in the industry), register with the Career Services Department as soon as possible and find out what kind of internships are available, draft up a resume and update it on a regular basis, and do not miss the career expo that Riddle hosts every year. The expo is free and all the leading aviation/aerospace companies come directly to you. You will have a very prestigious degree when you leave Embry-Riddle and companies will want you to work for them. Go get your dreams!

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About Rachel

**Graduate:** MS Human Factors & Systems **Undergraduate:** Engineering Physics **Minor:** Mathematics **Career Goals:** To work in the field of Human Factors, studying human performance in extreme environments. **Why I chose Embry-Riddle:** I wanted to become an astronaut after attending space camp as a kid. Science and sports were my strengths in high school. My senior year, I received a pamphlet in the mail about Embry-Riddle and was immediately intrigued. I flew in from IL to tryout with the soccer team, toured the campus, went to the beach and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wanted to make Embry-Riddle my new home!

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