On Sept. 28, 2013 BURST undergraduate researchers gathered to report on their summer experiences at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas. Kelli Hicks, president of Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST), moderated a discussion among the three Baylor students who participated in the inaugural Baylor and Scott & White summer research internships: junior biochemistry major Peter Jiang, junior chemistry major Carly Darden and senior biology major Annie Janise. The students, each from diverse academic disciplines, participated in an internship that matched their research interests and field of study.
Interns participated in two of the three available research projects including, research on the clinical application of an experimental drug to fight leukemia, a study on the mental health of premed students and ways to prevent "burnout," and an assessment of the challenges of everyday life for people who are living with Parkinson's disease. A typical workweek ranged from 25-40 hours, with students having the advantage of setting their own schedule.
As this was the first year of the partnership between Baylor University and Scott and White, it was a learning experience for both the students and principal investigators. When asked about the goals of their internship, all three students agreed that their mentors pushed them to exceed their personal ambitions without placing unrealistic expectations upon them. Overall, the students credited their experience with helping them to better determine what they wanted to do in the future while giving them a new respect for researchers who work behind the scenes. Additionally, the students said participation in the program enhanced the their exposure to careers in health care while also providing valuable experience and a credible job reference for the future.
The session concluded with each student offering advice to undergraduates who are interested in the program or are applying for summer internships. The student interns agreed that getting turned down for an internship opportunity is not a crisis and should not discourage future researchers from applying. The best strategy is to apply for as many positions as early as possible and to be ready to work hard and be willing to learn from others.