Research Internship -- So It Begins.
This post summarizes my early thoughts regarding my upcoming internship, what preparations have been like and what goals I have in mind.
This has meant multiple things for me. It has meant going through the paper work at my university here in Hong Kong (City University, HK) that ensures I am able to stay away for multiple months without contravening any law. It's meant ensuring my departmental duties (teaching, invigilation etc) have been fully satisfied or delegated where possible. It has meant applying for and obtaining a J1 visa. It has meant early meetings with my internship supervisor and doing some mental lifting to identify a challenge worth dedicating the entire summer to. It has meant getting through almost two weeks of (stress induced) flu and attempting to make up for that. It has meant a really challenging attempt to find accommodation in the USA whilst living in Hong Kong -- at some point, a kind landlord offered to rent his "garage/homeoffice" to me for \$800 per month (kitchen and bathroom were on the second floor of the main house building which was several yards from said garage).
I personally believe in the power of goal setting and mental preparation. Over the last couple of weeks, I have repeatedly asked myself -- "what do I want to gain out of this internship". Interestingly, I was asked this question during my interview. Now that I have had more time to naturally reflect on it, the answers do constitute my primary goals for the next few months. To grow, to communicate better and to be focused.
I want to learn. And Grow
I really want to go through the process of knowing nothing or very little about a task or endeavour and then diligently work up competence to a point of significant mastery. Yes, this is not a joyful process as one's initial ignorance can be deeply embarrassing and sometimes painful. But we all need that sense of accomplishment that accompanies the realization of personal growth and I think this internship is a great opportunity for this. I embrace the challenge and I welcome the attendant growing pains. To grow, I realize I also have to learn to risk putting myself out there, carefully taking initiative and attempt to deliver beyond expectation. Also goes without saying that I have to build up on the social side of things -- meet people , let them know what I am doing, what my skillsets are and my goals.
I want to communicate better.
I know one of my weak areas can be timely empathetic communication. And I truly want to get better at this. This covers being able to learn about the best way to communicate with certain people, writing effective email communication, escalating matters especially those that may shift deadlines. This also has to do with accepting, requesting and assimilating feedback with an open humble mind. I will be working with a team this summer -- an amazing group of people who I will have the opportunity to communicate with regularly and to learn from. Communicate I shall, even when it is hard or feels unnatural.
I want to improve my focus and consistency.
Currently I tend to be the kind of person that has bouts of strong focus periods. E.g I can be super productive for a month, and then much less productive for the next whole month. My internship period is short and I know I definitely DO NOT have the luxury of such hot cold behaviour. The key is to pace myself, to use support tools, to create rules/plans that breed habit, to stick to said rules and to be super aware of the consequences of my actions. I'd like to do this consistently for the entire internship duration. Sometimes, when I am able to focus for extended periods, the results baffle even me. I owe myself (and my team) the chance of observing (and benefitting) from what will happen if I actually discipline myself and stay focused for the entire internship duration.
I have to be really honest, this question has flashed across my mind more than I care to admit. And all I can say is that life is stochastic . True, the law of cause and effect, sowing and reaping .. karma does exist, but still there is that element of randomness, uncertainty that we all just cant help but notice. Sometimes, this uncertainty shows up and ensures that all your labour goes up in a glorious blaze of smoke. Sometimes, against all odds, somethings just work out and amaze you completely. Sitting all cormfy 12000 feet in the air, enroute a flight that's taking me across continents, I cant help but realize this is one of the latter moments. I am actually about to begin my research internship program. I am deeply thankful to God for this excellent opportunity and I pray for grace to focus and really rise up to the task (and goals) ahead.