research mentor thoughts!

Topics of discussion

-Setting the right mood for the week

-goals for the interns, the internship as a whole

-ideas or things you think are important themes for an internship of this sort

For example, I always try to talk about the theme of the fact that it’s okay to talk about how you’re feeling, like feelings of being lost in a crowded room and such because that really is a big part of the internship is to make a community and talking about these things early makes the conversation easy I think. 

-also, if you show them vulnerability (talking about a time you felt lost or something similar) then they will be more likely to open up to you.


We got to do this more the first and second years but it didn’t really get to happen this year because of the training, but that is no ones fault. But I do feel that something was lost because we didn’t get to have that conversation with the interns. Like the connections were made in other ways, but we didn’t get to make that one that I think is the most important. 


Another theme I like to talk about pretty early and constantly remind them of (especially when they get overwhelmed) is that college is SO MUCH just learning how the heck to go to school. Yeah like your school work is a big part, but if you’re not comfortable or you just aren’t ready, that stuff isn’t gonna happen. So I like to again talk about the other theme of a community here. 


Another big one I like is mental health, which can be a little difficult so frame it however you want, but it’s something that isn’t really talked about and is coming into the conversation more and more recently which is great. 


With all these themes and ideas, I like to give specific examples. Try not to say ‘my friend was sad so they went to counseling’ because that’s not as personal as a story from you. Just do what you can honestly. 


Making sure that everyone is okay you know. 

I like to do frequent check ins just to see where everyone is at. Like for example,when you’re teaching a concept, you can stop when you see some concerned faces, and say ‘show me on one hand on a scale of 1-5 how comfortable you are with this’ you can get ALOT of information like this. I did this on a group camping leadership thing where we did a lot of outdoor activities and people were constantly at different levels of comfort obviously. 


For the research aspect

When you are teaching your research to people, please please please keep in mind that you are the expert compared to them and they are most likely seeing this material  or concept for the first time. The goal is not to show off how much you know, but to share what you do in a nice way. Just keep in mind how you talk to the students and try to use minimal technical terms. If you do use technical terms, make sure you explain them well. To keep them engaged (you can get glassy eyes pretty quick) I like to have them actively engaged in whatever I’m doing. Like if I’m setting something up, I’ll have someone hold something or put it where it needs to go or show them how to clean up or put away or something. Another thing when I’m explaining is I like to ask questions like ‘what do you guys know about nitrogen gas, or where are the transition elements’ they are a lot more engaged when they get to talk. This is also how you can figure out where their knowledge is on the subject. 



Yes so many snacks. Make sure you have enough food for every day and that no one is hungry. This seems self explanatory but I’m just putting it out there. 


Also for activities, if you just include them in whatever you like to do they will love it. Just the act of being included is important no matter the activity. 


If you guys want specific examples we can talk about them or we can just make another document. 

We did a lot of outdoor things because they were cheap and we all had fun running around outside but things like that might not work at other sites. 


What to do when something goes so wrong you want to die

Just keep going and calmly explain to everyone that these things happen and we’re all gonna work together to get through it. Give them all a chance to help you figure out whatever the problem is.


Oh another thing, even though these students might be like 4 years younger than you in some cases, please please please do not refer to them as ‘kids’. In order for us to make a cohesive community, we can’t make this chain of command thing or hierarchy because then there’s just weird trust things and that’s no good. 

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  1. This is a great write-up.  How do we know that the appropriate people have access to it?  Since it's a blog it doesn't go directly to email.  Did you email the research mentors to let them know it exists?  Did you guys end up having your zoom meeting or did that get cancelled/rescheduled?