Princeternship Stories: David Selwood ’20, MITRE Corporation

For my January 2017 Princeternship, another Princeton student and I spent a day at the MITRE Corporation in Bedford, Massachusetts. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit, largely government contracted company. It is at the forefront of research in many fields and provides services over a range of areas, though the majority of its resources go to defense work for the United States Air Force.

My host was Kristin Fitzgerald (Goehl), Class of 2016. I believed this was a great fit for me as I am a prospective operations research and financial engineering (ORFE) major and she is one of the most recent graduates of the department. Having been there for less than a year, it was especially great that Kristin could connect us to such interesting people within MITRE. These included another 2016 Princeton graduate (MAE) as well as the Vice President of the Air Force Program. I learned that MITRE does things that I did not expect, such as assessing risk in relation to youth in foster care, in addition to their advertised involvement in defense.

My first goal entering my Princeternship was to determine if I want to continue studying ORFE. During this experience, I learned multitudes of ways that the data science aspect of an ORFE education can be used. Each one of these applications deepened my interest in ORFE much more than I expected. It was certainly a pleasant surprise. What I did not expect to gather from this experience was a potential purpose for my career. Because MITRE is a not-for-profit company and is government contracted, its work is done in the public service. Whether helping foster kids escape certain risks or helping to defend our nation, everything is done for the good of someone else and not for personal or corporate profit. It was certainly noticeable that MITRE employees were passionate about their work, especially the VP of the Air Force Program. I learned that this is the mentality I want to carry through my career.

In addition to these data science applications, we were also allowed to look at certain computer science and programming applications in such fields as virtual reality. However, we were not allowed to see the most interesting projects at MITRE because of their sensitive nature. While there, we had to wear “ESCORT REQUIRED” badges, a neat experience in itself.

Shadowing at the MITRE Corporation for a day showed me how all the technical and theoretical skills I may learn as a Princeton engineer could be applied in a real-world situation. Whether it be in STEM, humanities or anywhere in between, I encourage all students to look into the Princeternship program to see what incredible work is available at the end of an enlightening Princeton career. Finally, I would like to thank Kristin Fitzgerald for her time and willingness to host us at MITRE and give us a great experience.

Princeternship Stories: Keeley Walsh ’19, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

Over intersession, I spent three days shadowing Dr. Shah ’96, a neonatologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester Country, New York. Dr. Shah went to Cornell Medical School after graduating from Princeton. He later completed his residency at Duke University Children’s Hospital followed by a fellowship at NYU Children’s Hospital. Not only is he a practicing neonatologist but he also is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as a co-chairman for the Society of Pediatric Research. I was very lucky to spend three days shadowing Dr. Shah because I was able to see the daily life of a neonatologist, a researcher, and an advocate for Children’s health policy.

Day one began with Dr. Shah showing me around the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He spent time explaining the functions of all the different apparatuses used in the unit. I was amazed that not one baby had the same combination of treatments. Each patient was carefully assessed and given a unique treatment to help improve their health. After touring the unit with Dr. Shah, I completed the daily rounds with the residents and the on-call neonatologist.

During rounds we went through all 48 patients in the NICU, discussing the babies’ measurements and specific treatments. Measurements included everything from the baby’s weight to vitamin intake. The doctors, fellows, and residents would all converse on what they believed would be the best way to treat each’s unique condition and then decide from there. This ensured that every baby received the best possible care. After completing rounds, I could not wait to come back on day two to see the progress that some babies had made. I only interacted with the patients for a short time, maybe five minutes each, but I already felt connected to them and wanted each and every one to get better.

On day two I began with daily rounds with the on-call team. Similar to the day before, we saw each patient assessing their specific needs. This day was by far my favorite because I was able to see the positive progress that many of the babies had made. When some of these babies first came into the unit, they were smaller than three soda cans and had serious respiratory problems. I imagine treating babies with some of the most life-threatening problems is the hardest part of the job. But as the days pass and the team continues to adjust the treatments and medications, the patients get better, which I believe to be the most rewarding part of the job. On this day, many of the babies’ parents were in the unit as we were completing the daily rounds. I particularly enjoyed seeing the happiness on the parents’ faces when the doctor would comfort the parents and let them know that their child’s condition was improving. Day two concluded with me watching Dr. Shah conduct stem cell research at New York Medical College.

Day three was very different than the first two. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Shah is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is very passionate about children’s healthcare and wants to ensure that every child has access to necessary treatments. We traveled to several Congress members’ offices and discussed the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and how they benefited children in particular. It was interesting to see another side of medicine that I never thought of, but is just as important.

Before this experience, I was on the fence about continuing on the pre-medicine track. My goal to pursue pediatrics was solidified after completing rounds with the team and seeing what a neonatologist’s daily life in the hospital is like. I specifically enjoyed the second day of rounds because I was able to see some of the babies’ conditions improve. Dr. Shah was very welcoming and willing to discuss things that I did not understand. I enjoyed all our talks because I not only gained knowledge about neonatology but also about life in general. I am so grateful to have completed this Princeternship because I now have a better understanding of what I hope to be my future career path.

Princeternship Stories: Jaein Jung ’20, Massachusetts General Hospital

Meeting Dr. Sundt and the Cardiac Surgery team at Massachusetts General Hospital was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Although the internship was only two days, I learned so much about the field of medicine and the importance of passion, communication and knowledge. I am so grateful to be able to have this wonderful experience. Continue reading

Princeternship Stories: Lisa Sheridan ’19, New Jersey Superior Court

Over winter intersession, I had the privilege of spending a week shadowing the Hon. Alberto Rivas ‘82 in his capacity as a presiding judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey. During this time, I gained an invaluable insight into the operation of the criminal justice system, with its many perspectives and challenges.

When shadowing Judge Rivas, our routine was to sit at the front of the courtroom and watch the many different types of hearings he presided over. We saw a full scope of the criminal justice process, from detention hearings to sentencing hearings.

After the flurry of hearings on the first day, I was overwhelmed by a vast and complex prescribed set of legal terms and processes that I was unfamiliar with. My fellow intern and I scribbled pages full of notes, questions and comments that Judge Rivas patiently and enthusiastically addressed between sessions. When we left the court at the end of each day, we would continue excitedly discussing and debating what we had seen until we got back to campus.

Later on, in the week, Judge Rivas arranged for us to sit in on trials in other courtrooms. We learned not just about how a trial proceeds formally, but also about the more implicit agendas and strategies at play. We had the privilege to witness the proceedings with and without the jury’s presence and to speak with professionals such as law clerks, attorneys and judges to gain a complete insight into the situation.

As we watched more of Judge Rivas’ hearings, our questions began to change. We had the rare chance to sit with Judge Rivas after a hearing and learn about his perspective as an authority on the law, asking questions such as, “What made you decide on this particular sentence?” and “What evidence was most pertinent to you for making your decision?” It was fascinating to be able to analyze Judge Rivas’ rulings with him; rulings informed by decades of work in the legal system and a holistic analysis of the situation from many perspectives (the defendant, the defense, the prosecution, the public, his peers and colleagues.) I was amazed at the scope of information that Judge Rivas must consider before making a ruling for which he alone shoulders a great deal of responsibility.In light of this, I came to admire Judge Rivas for his enduring dedication to empathy, fairness and rehabilitation, when he is often subject (as all judges are) to a great deal of criticism in the media for unpopular yet just rulings.

We were lucky enough also to see the newly instated criminal justice reform in action, whereby defendants are scored based on their risk of reoffending upon release from detention. These scores are designed to indicate the conditions under which a defendant could be released pending further proceedings. One of the things I learned from speaking to Judge Rivas is how the law and judicial system is not as concrete as I once thought, and it is constantly open to revision, refinement and replacement.

Overall I had a wonderful experience with Judge Rivas and his chamber team. I learned and reflected a lot about the legal system but also about the essential skills of impartial, logical thought and strong decision making. I am very grateful for these experiences and for the friends and mentors I made at the Superior Court.

Princeternship Stories: Korlekuor Akiti ’19, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

My Princeternship with Dr. Jeffrey Katz at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) was truly an invaluable experience. Going into the visit, I was very unsure about my interest in pursuing medicine as a career. However, I quickly came to realize that my understanding of the field of medicine was so much narrower than the reality. Through talking with Dr. Katz and his team, sitting in on meetings and observing clinic, I got a glimpse of a side of medicine that I had never seen before. I knew I was interested in research going into this experience, but after talking with several Research Assistants in Dr. Katz’s lab, I am now seriously considering serving as an RA during my glide year(s).

I am shocked at how much I was able to experience in less than 48 short hours. My first day began by sitting in on a rheumatology case conference with Dr. Katz and several of his colleagues at BWH and Mass Gen. I then had a chance to speak with Harvard Medical School student who is taking time off after his third year to work as an RA for Dr. Katz. It was extremely informative to hear about his path to medical school and how his experiences have prepared him for the work he is doing today.

After speaking with several other RAs, I sat in on a Skype call with Dr. Katz and a team in the Netherlands about a paper that they are in the process of publishing. After lunch, we listened to a visiting speaker at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and ended the day with a meeting regarding an activity on sexual assault on campuses that he is coordinating.

The next morning, we attended Medicine Grand Rounds and listened to the distinguished Dr. Neil Powe of UCSF speak about disparities in renal disease and the disproportionate effect that this has on the African American population. Afterword, we headed straight to the clinic where Dr. Katz saw seven different patients (before lunch) with varying types and degrees of arthritis.

I was so impressed by the work environment of Dr. Katz’s lab and the hospital as a whole. The team culture was so strong and everyone, from the youngest intern to the oldest and most decorated doctor, had a voice and was respected. I was also surprised to learn that only a few RAs had any experience or training specific to epidemiology or rheumatology before working in the lab. Rather, the other lab members taught them as they went and they learned through experience.

I would certainly recommend, in fact, urge, other students to take advantage of the Princeternship program. It was an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity to get to know a very successful Princeton alumnus. I am so incredibly grateful for everyone at Princeton and BWH, especially Dr. Katz, who helped make my visit such a success.

Princeternship Stories: Irene Hsu ’20, Education Through Music-LA

Being a Princetern for Education Through Music-LA (ETM-LA) was an extremely rewarding experience. Firstly, talking with Victoria allowed me to learn so much about working at a nonprofit. What stood out to me the most was the organization’s focus on its mission. This united everybody and allowed them to work together passionately to reach their goal. Talking with Victoria also gave me insight into running a company. She mentioned how important it was to be surrounded by people who support the same values. This made me reflect a lot about networking and being an entrepreneur. I also found it very interesting how a nonprofit funds and publicizes itself. Effective nonprofit work is very much based on connections and reaching out to sponsors and local organizations. I find this aspect of this type of career very exciting and I will keep this in mind when figuring out what I want to do in the future.

Continue reading

Princeternship Stories: Andy Zheng ’20, Eastern Virginia Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters

I had the opportunity to intern at the Children’s Hospital for the King’s Daughters. I took a day of rest before I started my internship during intersession. After arriving at the hospital, I was introduced to everything that I needed to know. The same thing that every hospital intern should be aware, such as I cannot disclose patient information and what happens in the hospital stays in the hospital. Continue reading

Princeternship Stories: Maria Jerez ’19, Disability Rights Maryland

I learned so much during my internship at Disability Rights Maryland – about the law, about the office environment and myself. When I first went into this Princeternship, all I knew was that I had a strong interest in law and a sense that I wanted to use that to help people. I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I most definitely didn’t know how I intended to do that. The biggest concern I had about my future profession was being able to mesh those two things together in a way that was interesting and made a difference. In talking to Leslie and all the other attorneys, paralegals and legal advocates at the office though, I saw that it was possible. Continue reading

Princeternship Stories: Lila Abreu ’19, Cornea and Laser Eye Institute/Hersh Vision Group

I applied to this Princeternship because I wanted to get a glimpse at a day in the life of a doctor. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I ultimately want to do something related to mental health and counseling. I’ve been trying to decide whether I should fulfill pre-medical requirements with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist, or whether I should focus my attention towards my Psychology courses and research. As I am extremely indecisive (I’ve switched majors from Chemistry to Computer Science and now to Psychology, dabbling in Linguistics, Philosophy and Neuroscience along the way!), I wanted to make this decision about what to do with my remaining time at Princeton with as much information as possible. I thought shadowing a surgeon would provide me the extra information I needed to begin making an informed decision.

Over the course of the day, Dr. Hersh, Dr. Gelles and some of the technicians showed us around the office. They explained the process of preparing patients for surgery, performing the surgery and doing post-procedure follow-ups. For each surgery we observed, Dr. Hersh made sure to give us background information on the problems the patients were experiencing and on how the procedure helped correct it. He also made sure to give us many close-up views of patients’ eyes mid-procedure (very cool!) and explained what he was doing step by step. He took time to chat with us, answering all of our questions about his experiences at Princeton and about the path he took that lead him to ophthalmology.

One of my biggest takeaways of the day was that while planning is certainly useful, those plans tend to change along the way. Dr. Hersh explained that he had gone into medicine wanting to do orthopedics, and ended up doing ophthalmology mostly due to the quality of the ophthalmology program at his school. In hearing his med school and early work experiences, it was clear that he embraced change and was open to following the opportunities that were best for him at the time, opportunities which led him relatively far from where he initially saw himself. This strategy obviously worked out very well for him, and it’s comforting to see that letting plans go astray is not so bad after all.

At the end of the day, I was so happy that I had the opportunity to do this Princeternship. It was an incredible experience that helped push me towards deciding what I want to focus on in my next two-and-a-half years at Princeton.

Princeternship stories: Jessica Quinter ’18, Maryland Disability Law Center

This post was written by Jessica Quinter ’18 after her Princeternship. For more information on the Princeternship program, visit our site.  

Though I did a fair amount of research before attending my Princeternship, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kind of assumed it would be an average day in the life of any lawyer; some paperwork, some case research, maybe a few phone calls with clients. But the eye-opening, incredible experience I had exceeded any and all of my expectations.

The first thing I was struck by upon arriving at Maryland Disability Law Center (MDLC) was the warmth and friendliness of the atmosphere. It takes a certain kind of person to work there, someone dedicated and kind to the nth degree, and that sentiment was palpable. I was first able to speak with a few other professionals working at MDLC, whose jobs were somewhat different from my host (the Managing Attorney). I was allowed to listen in on intake calls, which was an incredibly valuable experience. It gave me a real understanding of the value of the work that MDLC does. I saw how vital and how heartbreaking it all was. I was also able to speak with another person, who worked specifically on promoting inclusion in after-school programs for disabled children. In everyone I spoke with, the definite common denominator was his or her passion and kindness. No one better embodied that than my host, Mrs. Leslie Margolis ’82.

Mrs. Margolis focuses in special education. I was able to attend a meeting with Mrs. Margolis with a parent she was representing (for her child) and the school special education staff, about the child’s school placement. Emotions ran high, and it was rather heartbreaking to watch this child be debated upon. But more than anything, I was struck by how completely dedicated Mrs. Margolis was to advocating for the parent and child, and promoting the student’s best interests above all other possible considerations. It was really illuminating to me, in illustrating just how vital the work of Mrs. Margolis and the MDLC as a whole is. These children, and also disabled adults, though I didn’t see much about that specifically, sometimes have no one to advocate for them. They may fall to the wayside, or suffer abuse. Parents, or other caregivers, may not know where to turn. Some private firms may sometimes seem to hold ulterior motives. Others cannot afford a private attorney, but just surpass the threshold to qualify for pro bono. The help of the MDLC, then, is incredibly important, and that was very clearly demonstrated to me.

My day shadowing Mrs. Margolis at MLDC was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had. It opened my eyes to a kind of law practice that I hadn’t really considered before, which I now see as very rewarding, worthwhile, and important. For myself, I’ve always wanted to go to law school, but been wary of simply joining a private firm. I’ve always been passionate about social justice and civil liberties. I’ve worked as the political intern at the Human Rights Campaign in the Government Affairs Department, which I loved. I’ve always imagined that a path like that would be best for me; being able to lobby for policy for issues I am so passionate about. And perhaps I will still end up somewhere like that, I would still love to. But my day at MDLC showed me another possible path—being a lawyer doesn’t necessarily have to entail private corporate work. There are places like MDLC, where passionate lawyers can also advocate for social justice. Mrs. Margolis also informed me that she was able to do policy work as well, which I hadn’t know or considered. My Princeternship opened my mind to another realm of possible careers in a way that I hadn’t expected.

Shadowing Mrs. Margolis was also incredibly rewarding in that she gave me so much valuable advice. She told me a lot about her own career path, and was incredibly open and receptive to any questions I had. She gave me a lot of meaningful advice, in a way that was very relatable. I really enjoyed my experience shadowing Mrs. Margolis at MDLC, and I would recommend to any student to do the program. Thank you so much, Mrs. Margolis, for the incredible experience!!