The Riggs Blog

Remarks of an Austen Riggs Center Intern

The undergraduate research internship at the Austen Riggs Center provides a rich, psychodynamically-focused learning experience for students. In this two-part blog series, we will hear reflections from two of this summer’s research interns. 

For more information about the internship program or to apply for an internship, visit: www.austenriggs.org/research-internship. The program is now accepting applications for internship opportunities for some time during the period of October 1, 2015 – April 30, 2016. Later in the fall we will post more details on opportunities for summer 2016 internships.

This week we hear from Kate Jewson, a student from the Davidson College class of 2016. 

The undergraduate research internship at the Austen Riggs Center provides a rich, psychodynamically-focused learning experience for students. I cannot really say what I expected coming into my internship at the Austen Riggs Center. I was excited, but also extremely nervous; research has never been my strongest skill and I worried it would show from the minute I arrived on campus. To put it simply, I was intimidated in the face of so much knowledge and experience. However, after being here for almost two months, I cannot begin to express how much I have gained from jumping into this experience. Not only have I learned so much from my staff mentors, but the eight other exceptional interns I share a workspace with have also been instrumental in my learning process. If I could sum up my time at Riggs in one word, I would have to use “opportunity.” Here, I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the most knowledgeable and compassionate individuals I have ever met. I’ve been given the chance to expand my abilities as a researcher in a supportive and understanding context, one in which my mentors see areas in which I struggle as a moment to provide support and enhance my skills. Though I was afraid of starting at the bottom—partly solidified on my first day of work when I found out the interns’ desks would be located in the basement—I did not fully realize that I would be given the extraordinary opportunity to build one of the strongest foundations I could ask for as a psychology student. 

But, I won’t lie, there are days when working in a basement for eight hours is exhausting. From staring at enormous datasets on a computer screen to trying to type when I am jittery from drinking endless cups of coffee and eating a few too many pieces of chocolate provided for us, the work can be trying and difficult at times. However, if eye strain, too much coffee, and a basement view is all I have to complain about, then I think it is safe to say I’ve had it pretty good. 

During my summer here, I have been working with the Marketing Department and with Dr. Donna Elmendorf on her research study titled “Birth Stories,” which looks at how certain birth factors relate to later suicidal ideation and behavior. Additionally, I have had the amazing opportunity to work at the Riggs Nursery School, a place on campus where children are provided with a superb education and caring environment and patients can choose to work as teachers’ aides as part of Riggs’ unique activities program. Having the chance to dip my toes into so many different areas of the work at Riggs is something I am, and will continue to be immensely grateful for. 

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