Monthly Archives: June 2014

First Week on the Job

Hello Readers!

My name is Maggie Herman and I am a rising senior at Tulane majoring in public health and minoring in political science and international development. I hail from Kansas City but have chosen to brave the New Orleans’ infamous heat and humidity for summer 2014. I’m interested in the effect social, political and economic conditions can have on individual and community health. One day I hope to be a leader in the promotion of healthy choices and changes in society.

What is your internship this summer, Maggie?

This summer I am interning with the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council (NORAPC). NORAPC works to develop and maintain a comprehensive system of care for individuals living with HIV/AIDS in New Orleans Metropolitan area. NORAPC is a federally mandated public planning body working in collaboration with the Office of Health Policy and Office of Public Health and AIDS Funding under the City Health Department

Many are unaware (including myself pre-internship) that the New Orleans Metropolitan area is ranked FOURTH in AIDS case rates in 2011 among large metropolitan areas in the United States (p.s. Baton Rouge is number ONE). HIV/AIDS is a huge health issue in Louisiana and this council works to promote positive change.

NORAPC-logo

NORAPC is funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Modernization Act of 2009, which provides funding for various HIV/AIDS services. The planning council brings members of the affected community together with other key stakeholders to plan how to allocate funding as well as formulate recommendations of planning changes for deliveries of services determined the most needed y the community.

How often do citizens (regular people like you and me) get a chance to have direct input on how federal money, roughly 7 million dollars, is spent? I’m guessing not often, I know the government has never asked me for spending advice! The planning council is a really exciting means of decision-making. I am eager to learn more about its processes and challenges.

What are you internship responsibilities?

As of my first week I have worked to update informational materials with relevant HIV/AIDS related data for the members of the planning council. The various committees of the planning council and well as the whole general council will use there materials later in the summer to prioritize what they believe are the greatest issues facing the HIV/AIDS community in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in on some really cool meetings: an introduction to an innovative HIV/AIDS informational website made specifically for New Orleans, formulation of an educational budgeting-how-to bingo game, and even a meeting with five documentary directors interested in HIV/AIDS in the South. Needless to say, things are really moving and shaking at NORAPC.

Over the course of the summer I will continue to learn how to collect, organize and analyze data. I will also have the opportunity to participate in NORAPC community planning meetings as well as learn about New Orleans’ HIV/AIDS local infrastructure to address the community’s HIV/AIDS needs.

photo (5)My desk^^

How did you find and secure your internship?

I found my internship through Tulane’s Center for Public Service’s website. Using the search tools, I narrowed down the organizations that related to my field of study and personal interests. Though I have already completed my second tier service learning through a CPS internship, CPS’s website is extremely comprehensive and a great tool for learning about organizations. I sent and email to NORAPC asking if there were any internship positions available, and much to my delight there was one! I attended one of the planning council’s monthly public meetings. After attending the meeting and learning a little more about the organization, I decided this internship would be an excellent opportunity.

What are my expectations for the summer?

I’m really interested in gaining a better understanding of how public health and the public health concepts that I have learned about in my undergraduate courses really work in the “real world”. I am looking forward to learning about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in New Orleans because they are extremely multifaceted and multidimensional. For starters HIV/AIDS issues are affected by politics, policy, social norms, culture, media, Hurricane Katrina, and much more. This issue is also constantly evolving (ex: the Affordable Care Act) meaning there are endless learning opportunities ahead of me!

Also, one last thing- because there’s always enough time for a condom pun!

photo (3) ^^ sticker from NORAPC front desk

That’s a wrap! 😉

Thanks for reading!,

Maggie Herman

Midpoint: My experiences so far

I am progressing nicely on my learning objectives! I am three weeks into my internship and I have come to learn something about the day-to-day schedule of the wildlife center – you cannot possible be ready for everything! In this line of work, there are curveballs everyday, so flexibility is a key quality. However, it is possible to feel comfortable in the daily schedule aside from those daily unexpected events. I understand the flow of work, which animals need care at what time of the day, which animals need medicine or a watchful eye, etc.

I am monitoring my growth in several ways. First of all, I am taking on new tasks and working with new animals almost everyday. As I mentioned last blog, I have moved up to what is referred to as the green level, which is basic wildlife rehab. That title signifies which animals I can work with, and I am close to moving up yet another level, which will lengthen that list of animals! Secondly, I have fewer and fewer questions about how to complete certain tasks and I am becoming more efficient in the jobs that I do. I am more self-sufficient in the office and I am now able to walk in and begin my tasks right away without hesitation. Finally, I am doing the best that I can to keep up a journal of my experiences here, which helps me look back on the previous week and realize how much I have learned in just seven days!

At this point in my internship, I am most proud of the project that I have decided to take on as an intern. Here at the facility all interns are required to come up with a project that they can complete during the course of their internship. As I mentioned in my last blog, we have several sanctuary animals here, one of which is a coyote named Chewy (pictured below). Each of the sanctuary animals receives various types of enrichment to keep their minds stimulated and engaged, as life in captivity can be very repetitive. The staff has had a bit of trouble identifying what type of enrichment Chewy likes. He seems to reject a lot of typical coyote enrichment and the enrichment that he does accept he often tears up within seconds! For my project, I have decided to take Chewy on. I understand the circumstances that have led these animals to be sanctuary animals and so if I can impact Chewy’s quality of life even in the slightest, then I will feel accomplished. Chewy was found as pup and taken in by a family who mistook him for a dog. Once they realized that he was not a dog but actually a coyote it was too late, Chewy had already realized that humans have food and he therefore could not be released back into the wild. I have already begun contacting zoological facilities that house coyotes to try and get a list of potential enrichment items, and I have submitted my original ideas to my mentor. I plan on trying out my first enrichment item today!

#1

 

With any job, communication and people skills will be necessary, and with any new environment, you are forced to use those skills. This internship has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has me working with new people almost every single day, as we have dozens of volunteers. It has also taught me quite a lot about the animals that we rehabilitate, especially raptors, coyotes and skunks. I have hand-fed a baby crow, handled a red shoulder hawk while another staff member administered medicine, and I have prepared food for all of the animals at our facility. I understand what certain species can and cannot eat and the portions of food that certain animals get in the morning versus in the afternoon. All of the skills that I learn here will be transferable to my future career, as I hope to work with wildlife in some capacity.

 

Thanks for reading!

– Alicia Russo

New and Noteworthy

This summer I am interning with the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) within the Fetal Cellular and Molecular Therapy division. The lab I work for focuses on regenerative medicine, specifically scar prevention and wound healing. As I am going into my second week here, I thought I would fill everybody in on my project and my plans for the summer.

Due to recent advances in cellular biology, the scientific community has developed a particular interest in fat grafting. The term fat grafting refers to when a doctor harvests fat from a patient’s body and then reinserts it at another location. This reconstructive and cosmetic procedure first became popular in the 1980’s when liposuction was first introduced, as fatty tissue is readily available, easy to obtain, and inexpensive. Since then, there have been encouraging results in experiments suggesting that the transfer of adipose tissue or fat to a wound can mitigate the formation of scars and can aid in the process of healing. Take a second to absorb that and consider the possible implications. Since there are over 200 million surgeries occurring each year around the world that end in the formation of a scar, the discovery of a therapeutic targeting this biological process has the potential to significantly decrease the psychological and physical burden that comes with scarring.

Our lab firmly believes that Interleukin-10 (IL-10), a cytokine or chemical messenger, is the driving force behind wound healing. My goal this summer is to show that fatty tissues ability to lessen scar formation is mediated by IL-10. With this in mind, I have ordered C57BL/6mice (this is the standard laboratory mouse) that I will use for my experiment. My methodology, generally speaking,

  1. Harvest fat from the groin area of the mouse (because there is more fat here than any other area)
  2. Process the fat (I have to remove the oils, blood, etc.)
  3. Create two wounds (4mm each) on the back of the mouse (I will cover the wound with a clear “band aid”)
  4. I will take a syringe and inject the fat (with various supplements) onto the bed of the wound
  5. I will humanely euthanize the mice at various time points (for example, day 7 and 28) and harvest the wounds along with the surrounding area
  6. I will then take histological images and run a variety of tests for analysis of different wound healing/scar parameters (for example, the quantity of new vessels formed in the wound bed)

Overall, I have to say it was a great first week. I went through badging easily, met new people in the lab, worked on this experimental plan with my supervisor, and the SURF program hosted a graduate fair and picnic to meet other SURF students and faculty, learn about recent advances in research, and just hang out. I am thrilled to be moving forward with this fat grafting project, and will post again soon.

-Chad

1st week

My internship site is Columbia University Medical Campus in New York City. I work as a summer student in both Sulzer and Harrison Laboratories. Dr. Sulzer and Dr. Harrison are both Ph.Ds in their respective fields. Dr. Harrison is in charge of a research project, within the anesthesiology department, as its principal investigator, while Dr. Sulzer is the principal investigator of a project within psychiatry department. For the summer, I am registered as a psychiatry student at Columbia, although multiple fields/departments can technically apply to my position. The principal investigators and their respective lab teams are all currently working together on a conjoined project, wherein each member of either lab leads a specific project within a more broad area of research. The umbrella topic which incorporates all of these research projects entails the multitude of effects and responsibilities that dopamine has within the brain. This overarching subject matter serves as a foundation for a great variety of possible diseases/disorders to tackle. To illustrate the magnitude of this subject matter, medical problems from which we stand solutions by studying dopamine projections throughout the brain include: Parkinson’s (among other motor function disabilities), addiction, and schizophrenia. On a more day to day level, dopaminergic neurons and their projection targets influence just about every decision a person makes in a day. The specific project which I am a part of focuses on the mechanisms of addiction, especially in regard to alcohol, by utilizing animal models. It is fairly well accepted throughout the scientific community that drugs of abuse exert their powerful grip on the brain by “hijacking” the rewards circuitry (a process of reward/consequence that provided humans a vast evolutionary advantage throughout the span of our species existence). This project is headed by an alumni of Tulane University who is currently a Ph.D student at Columbia. The goal of her project is to demonstrate the existence and heterogeneity of dopamine neuron sub populations in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) based on their projection targets throughout the brain. My role will incorporate two main tasks. First, I will assist in the labeling of neurons, within mice which have been exposed to ethanol(alcohol), via immunohistochemistry. Particularly we will be using retrobead labeling to analyze the various targets of VTA neurons, which will fluorescently highlight the dopamine neurons in the VTA and the specific brain structure that each neuronal population fires to. I will be responsible for applying the antibodies and staining which actually make these neurons and retrobeads visible under the microscope. The neurons will appear as four possible colors, where in: blue(DAPI stain) will highlight all neurons in the brain section, green(retrobeads) will show the neurons in the target brain structure, red (Nissl stain) will show the dopaminergic neurons within that VTA that project to targets brain structure neurons, and yellow will show other types of neurons (e.g. GABA, glutamate, etc…). The brain regions of interest targeted by the VTA include: the medial Prefrontal Cortex, nucleus Accumbens(nAC) lateral shell, nAC medial shell, nAC core, and the basolateral amygdala. A two day process, I have already prepared my first few slides with the slices of a single mouse brain. This leads me to my next duty which will be to quantify the subpopulations of dopamine neurons in the VTA based on their projection target. I will be using a confocal microscope which allows a clear, highly magnified view of these neurons and their targets. I am in the process of being trained on this microscope which is a highly delicate and complex machine. As part of my training, I have looked at the previously mentioned slides which I had prepared, and I was able to visually see exactly what I had been working on earlier that week. I have also attended two lab meetings, which are held on Friday mornings. During which the members of the lab discuss the work that they have done since the last meeting, so that each person involved in the lab contributes information from their specific project, providing the whole team with a more full perspective on the overall project.

-Jason

Foraging for Wild Edibles in City Park

Teas

Participants sample teas brewed from local plants.

This week my internship brought me to some pretty special places around the city including Longue Vue House & Gardens (https://www.longuevue.com/) and City Park. The Locavores hosted two events back-to-back with Dr. Charles Allen, an expert on native plants of Louisiana including ones that have special properties. The event at Longue Vue House & Gardens brought in over 75 people from the Eat Local Challenge, Master Gardeners, and members of the general public. We all listened to Dr. Allen go into detail about certain local plants, holding specimens up as he talked and sharing stories about edibles and spice plants. In the back of the room were a dozen teas for sampling brewed from local plants such as persimmon leaves. I personally sampled all of the teas and thought the persimmon one was very tasty. Everyone was engaged in tasting the different specimens after the talk. It was great to see so many interested people who wish to learn more about their local flora.

The next morning we hosted a follow-up event with Dr. Allen in the Couterie section of City Park which has a lovely forested path. The event was at 9am, and I didn’t expect a great showing for a weekend morning. Boy was I surprised! About 100 people showed up ready to learn about the edible plants found right in their own backyard. I really enjoyed seeing how many wild plants are actually useful to humans, whether by providing sustenance, spice, or as a natural mosquito repellent.

foraging

Dr. Allen holds up a wild edible in City Park

 

local produce

Did some cooking with local produce from Good Eggs

Longue Vue

Longue Vue House & Gardens

Later that day, the Locavores had a stand at the OCH art market where we provided the final kits for the eat local challenge to participants. Many people are surprised to find that such essentials like salt, rice, and sugar, can all be bought from local sources easily. I participated in the challenge by ordering a week’s worth of groceries from Good Eggs (https://www.goodeggs.com/nola), a grocery delivery service which connects consumers to local sellers and is one of the easiest ways to get local food to your house quickly and efficiently. I was surprised by how much selection they had of fresh produce, dairy, meat, eggs, baked goods, and pretty much anything else you would need to complete the challenge. I was happy with the quality of the products when they arrived to my house and also the friendliness of the delivery staff. I will definitely be ordering from them again in the near future.

Overall, its been a great week for local foods. My favorite part of this challenge is the way it brings members of the community together who might otherwise not come together. Local beef raisers with master herb gardeners with college students and chefs. The events bring together all kinds with a shared love and appreciation of food and its value to the community. I look forward to our next event coming up tomorrow that I have been preparing a small fact sheet for, which I intend to share in the next blog post.

participants

Participants sample the local wild pepper plants together

HAPPY EATING 😀

Hands on experience

Hi again from Green Light!

As we are hitting mid June (wow time moves fast) I figured it is time for an update. Most of my work so far has been development and fundraising. We even decided to change my internship title from Assistant Membership Coordinator to Assistant Fundraising and Developing Coordinator. My job title is wonderfully concise and transparent. I am only the second person to have this job so from the beginning we knew it was a “figure out as we go” kind of position. I am really happy with the work I have done so far. My two main projects have been writing a campaign about GoodSearch.com and creating promotional materials for our percent night at The Blue Jeans Bar. While interested by fundraising, it is easy to be discouraged, especially within non profits because the money is often scarce and getting people to donate is quite a hefty task. However, I experienced a small personal victory early in my internship. GoodSearch.com is a search engine that donates a penny to your organization of choice every time you search something. I sent a letter out to family and friends hoping to get new supporters for GreenLight. 5 new people signed up after my push! It is not a lot, but for my first effort it was a happy outcome. My job so far has been a lot of writing and research –which is great and what I was looking for, but last week I got a fun change in pace.

As I mentioned before, Green Light installs CFL bulbs and backyard vegetable gardens for free for local community members. Last week I got to participate in both of those programs. On Monday and Tuesday I installed two backyard gardens. I have never worked in a garden before and certainly do not have a green thumb. But, it was really fun to get my hands dirty and see the benefits of the fundraising work I am doing. My favorite part was exploring new parts of the Greater New Orleans area and meeting new neighbors. As a Tulane student, I fall victim of the university bubble and am happy when I get outside of that. Building the garden is a couple simple but lengthy tasks. First we dig a 4×4 hole about 6 inches deep (which takes up about an hour and fifteen minutes of the hour and a half usual garden building time), then pour 7 bags of mulch into the hole, plant and water the seeds and seedlings. It was cool to see how simply starting your own garden can be done. On Wednesday, I went around with some of our NCCC Americorps volunteers and installed lightbulbs. I had done this service before and enjoyed it so was happy to go out again. Green Light may be a small organization but their impact is vast and impressive–I feel proud to be on this team.

I think that is all I have for now. I will continue with updates as the summer goes on. If you are reading, live in the New Orleans area and would like to participate in either of these free programs, please visit the links below to sign up!

CFL bulbs: http://www.greenlightneworleans.org/greenapply.html

Garden Project: http://www.greenlightneworleans.org/gardenapply.html

Happy Monday!

Leigh

The Family Institute at Northwestern University: Week One

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With my first week completed at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, I step back to reflect upon my experience thus far. With the exception of a lengthy, traffic-packed commute, I now realize that I could not have been blessed with a better position, institution to work for, and co-workers with whom to share the experience. I am more excited than ever for the next seven weeks, and to soak in all the knowledge and adventure I can during my short stay in Evanston!

Overall, The Family Institute is a counseling and therapy center determined to help families through clinical service, research, and education. The Institute believes that the family is an important factor influencing all individuals, and thus treatment and counseling services should always include the familial system. The specific project on which I work is entitled the Depression, Anxiety, and Couples project. My mentor and the principal investigator of the project, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, Ph.D., proposes the study of interpersonal interactions of couples in which one partner suffers from anxiety or depression in attempts to produce improved assessment and intervention models. Thus, my work this summer will include analysis of interpersonal interactions between a sample of these aforementioned couples.

My first day on the job was Monday June 9th, during which I and my fellow interns became acquainted with one another, the mission of The Family Institute, Northwestern’s campus, and our individual projects and responsibilities. Our orientation day began with ice-breaker activities allowing me to mingle with the other five students assigned to my project, as well as two other students working on another assignment. I was blown away to learn about the diversity of backgrounds, interests, and skills of the other students. Each one of us came from a different home university, all scattered around the United States. I am intrigued to investigate the multidisciplinary viewpoints and perspectives of my team throughout the next several weeks! Halfway through the day, The Institute provided a lunch for the interns, and also invited working counselors to come chat with us. The president of the institute even dropped in to welcome us to the team! The day concluded with a tour of Northwestern’s Evanston campus. We investigated the Norris Student Center, the Library, and even received Northwestern “Wildcards” to allow us access into certain academic buildings throughout the summer. I was amazed at the beauty of the campus, sitting right on the shore of Lake Michigan!

The real work began on the second day, beginning with training of video transcription. Throughout the day, I learned how to transcribe a sample couple’s interaction–including both verbal and nonverbal cues. I was taken aback at how lengthy the process of transcribing can be–it took me nearly seven hours to transcribe two, six-minute videos! I continued my transcribing assignments into Wednesday. Also, my schedule on Wednesday included an hour discussion with Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, about her own educational and career trajectory. I learned much about the process of applying for graduate school in clinical psychology, which I know will surely be of use in the future. Thursday included an organized lunch in downtown Evanston for all of the interns, and it was refreshing to be able to converse with the other students outside of a work environment. I’m hoping to build strong relationships with each and every one of them! Thursday afternoon I was trained in SASB coding–a particular coding system used to code the interpersonal conversations I had already learned how to transcribe. Finally, Friday concluded the week with Kappa training, and the entire day I was trained in how to compute the statistic Kappa–a value used to describe inter-rater reliability between two distinct SASB coders after they have completed the coding process.

I could not have fathomed a better internship for the Summer 2014. It’s difficult to think that the internship search process I began in December of 2013 has culminated in the experience of a lifetime. Although I can tell the work will be challenging, I am excited to grow personally and intellectually throughout the process. I look forward to the memories and knowledge to come, and I will be sure to update everyone on my latest advancements!

 

First Week at Dana-Farber

One week gone by and I can already see how my summer is about to turn out… amazing. It’s my first time in a big city like Boston and I don’t know where to start. I literally want to go everywhere and there are just not enough hours in the day. The funny thing is, in the past week, I have been everywhere except downtown Boston. My friends have taken me to Newton, Weston, Dudham, Salem, the North Shore, Marblehead, Cambridge, and yet I haven’t even seen the Prudential. But it’s only the first week and I still have another two months ahead of me.

Slept on a boat in Salem Harbor and woke up to this!

Slept on a boat in Salem Harbor and woke up to this!

On the other end of the spectrum, work, has been incredible. I got a research internship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and I would not be happier. In one week I think I have learned more than fifty textbooks could teach me. It’s crazy. Yes I’ve worked in a lab before but nothing like this. There’s at least twenty people in this factory room all day. People are here at 4, 5, 6, in the morning and stay through all hours of the night. They’re like zombies. But you can’t blame them. They love what they are doing. As for me, my project was just assigned and I couldn’t be more excited to start. For the past four years my adviser and several of his colleagues have accumulated a list of 10,000 protein abnormally expressed in Ovarian cancer cells. In the past few weeks they have somehow magically simplified that list to 60 proteins. My job is to take a few of those proteins (6-9) and analyze them through different analysis techniques in order to determine if they can be used as an early detection bio marker. Sure you may think it sounds boring but I am so stoked that its almost embarrassing.

Dana-Farber

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

So far my P.I. (principle investigator) has had be grow up cell lines, split plates, freeze cells, prepare medium, condition medium, and start lysing them. Soon I’m gonna move on to the big finale… Western Blots. Basically its a two day procedure that I am going to have to perform literally a hundred times. It might sound tedious but as of right now its all I can look forward to.

My office

My office

As for my house, its ridiculous. I’m living at the AEPi house and MIT and I have never seen anything like it. And no, I am not in AEPi. They have some sort of summer housing program for college students and I found out about it online. It’s a five-story brownstone building right on Boston University campus that sits directly on the Charles River. Coming from the suburbs of South Florida I had no idea what to expect. But city life is pretty cool. Everything is within arms reach. They have every restaurant you can think of. Bars, shops, banks, doctors, barbers, movies, everything within a mile. Even Fenway Park is three blocks from my door. I love it.

My front yard

My front yard

Overall, my Boston adventure is off to a great start. I got to see my cousins, meet up with school friends, party hard, and learn a whole lot at my new job. Who know’s maybe I’ll be back one day for real. But, for now, its the scrub life. Until next time.

 

 

 

Foresight Design Initiative: Week One

After some technical difficulties and working 9-5:30 every day, I finally have some time to sit down and write about my first week!

This summer I am working at Foresight Design Initiative, a sustainable design/consulting firm that works with government organizations and many other interest groups in the Chicagoland area. Adjusting to a full time schedule and wearing business casual has certainly been interesting, never before did I realize that I had so many combinations of button downs and khakis! Commuting has also been interesting, and probably hasn’t been helping my blood pressure…

As for the actual work we have been doing, it has ranged from creating a window design for the Foresight office and creating a systems map of climate change. Without going into too much detail, that project explores the interconnectivity of the various factors inducing anthropogenic climate change, as well as some ways to intercede in the system. However, the most interesting thing that we did in week 1 was our meeting with the Metropolitan Planning Council about an initiative Foresight is helping to facilitate. To expand as much as I am able to, this initiative is a project Foresight has been given in order to facilitate communication between different stakeholder groups in the Calumet region in southern Chicago about availability and purity of water resources in the area. Seeing all of the different interest groups come together and talk about their side of the problems in an innovative way really made me stop and think about different ways to approach problems that confront a cityscape.

That’s about all I have for Week 1! It has been an enjoyable week and the people that I have met along with the skills that I have been learning make me believe that this summer will be a good training for a future career.

Innocence Project New Orleans: Week One

This summer I am interning at Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a nonprofit law office dedicated to freeing wrongly convicted prisoners in Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Currently, IPNO has freed or exonerated 24 people struggling against unfair practices in our criminal justice system. I had heard of IPNO prior to this internship. I plan to attend law school and pursue a career in public interest after graduation. IPNO seemed like the perfect fit for me this summer, so I applied over winter break and interviewed in February. I am one of eight interns working full time this summer – there are four undergraduate interns and four interns currently in law school. The office is located in Mid-City, around three miles from my house. Because I don’t have a car, I’ve been biking to my internship. Hopefully the bike ride will keep me in shape this summer!

My first week at IPNO was very busy but really informative. Before I started actually doing work for IPNO, I went through three days of training about the organization. Staff members presented on different aspects of IPNO’s work. I learned a lot about post-conviction law. It was also a great introduction to all of the staff at IPNO. I realized that investigation is just as large a part of this type of legal work as what I originally imagined lawyers would do – like going to court and writing briefs. Interacting with law students is also really beneficial to me. Law school seems a lot less intimidating as I’m becoming friendly with 3Ls. I also attended a Brown Bag Lunch that brought together interns from different organizations in New Orleans. Along with the other IPNO interns, I attended the forensics portion of the Innocence Policy Network Conference. I heard some fantastic speakers and learned how my role as an intern fits into a national scheme. There was a cool panel featuring leaders of laboratories that test DNA, focusing on the importance of the independence of a lab from law enforcement.

On Thursday I began interning for my assigned staff member – Zac Crawford, the Case Review Manager. Though it is challenging to look through records and decipher esoteric legal terms, I am really enjoying my tasks so far. No two cases are the same, so the eight-hour workday never becomes monotonous. I am also dealing with correspondence with potential clients. I never expected little things to be so difficult – such as navigating a new computer system or figuring out how to use the printer at the office to get an address on an envelope.

My first week was overwhelming in the amount I learned. This summer I expect to continue finding out more about public interest legal careers and gaining experience in a really awesome legal niche. I hope to learn important research skills and contribute to a really worthy cause. This internship should help me to confirm my decision to attend law school and to focus on my personal interests related to future career paths.