Just Beyond the Halfway Mark

I have been in Berlin for over a month now and am more than halfway through my internship at BIGS Potsdam. I had changed my learning goals in my first week at the think tank from what I had originally planned. Though they are similar, they have altered slightly and I have outlined them below. As such, I think that I am progressing towards a number of my goals. The most noticible in my daily life is the adjustment to life abroad, and particularly to life that is spent surrounded by a language that I do not speak. I have learned basic phrases in German, I can politely ask for a coffee as well as find my way around Berlin using only signs in German. I am learning about how to run statistical analyses on data collected through surveys and experiments, as well as how these experiments and surveys are planned and collected. I have been able to wittness how many of these projects begin, from the grant application process onward. I think one of the measures of my learning is that I have found myself asking more questions than I typically would. I have had to adjust to a number of things and learn on the go how to complete tasks that I am assigned at my internship. This has been a good adjustment and has expanded my knowledge.

I have been working on the beginning stages of a literature review that will accompany the academic paper resulting from the research that has been conducted about first responders and altruism. I have been compiling articles, journal entries, and previous experiments and finding common threads that bring these things together. I have also been working on running statistical analyses on the collected data and writing up notes on the findings to send to my supervisor who is currently running a program in Beriut for a week and a half.

I think that this internship has made me more aware of the directions that I can go as a leader as well as making me more confident in an office environment. Until this point I have had jobs typical of a student, waitness, nanny etc. and had not been in a more traditional work environment. For this reason I was a bit nervous about how it worked, but now I feel more comfortable with the expectations and workings of an office environment. I have also been surrounded by women who are at the top of afield that is more traditionally dominated by men. International security, and particularly cyber security are typically more male carreer paths, but I have really appreciated getting to know women who are breaking that mold and doing it well.

I have learned a lot through this experience, as an employee, and as a person outside of the office. I feel confident in my ability to travel well, and to work in an unfamiliar place. I have had to navigate my way around a city that I was completely unfamiliar with and as an international development and international relations major this is something I need to feel comfortable doing. I have learned a lot about how to transfer data collected through experiments and surveys into usable numbers, figures and charts that can help to understand behavior. I have had to refresh a lot of things I learned years ago in statistic classes to be able to contribute to this project, but it has been very constructive. Additionally, this job and my time here has allowed me to grow my international network of contacts. I work with individuals from around Europe as well as one other person from the US who is a former member of the state department. I now have people who have studied, lived and worked nearly everywhere in the world as colleagues and I think this will be really beneficial in the future.

Updated Goals:

experience experiments involving people

understand data collection and coding

see how experiments are transfered into academic papers

understand how experiments can be used to aid development

feel comfortable living in another country and speaking beginner german

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