Autism Research at CHOP

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Luis Rosario, COL ’19

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to work in the Biomagnetic Imaging Laboratory in the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. During my time at the Biomagnetic Imaging Laboratory, I was able to develop many professional skills that I know will help me become a great researcher and hopefully physician one day. I was able to work closely with the researchers every day, learning how to interact closely with child subjects both on and not on the autism spectrum. I was able to gain a deep understanding and appreciation for this specific disorder as well as learn how to deal with certain behaviors that these subjects may have as a result of the disorder. I feel that these interactions have helped me develop an ability to interact with individuals that have been afflicted by a certain disorder, and these skills will allow me to interact better with patients in the future once I finally have a chance to treat patients.

Furthermore, I was able to understand how a research laboratory works as a result of the funding. I was able to attend weekly lab meeting and also participate occasionally as well. I gained the ability to be able to communicate effectively about projects I was assisting with in a professional research setting, which will greatly boost my skills in the time I take working hopefully in a research lab before I apply to medical school. Additionally, I was able to attend the Biomagnetic Imaging Laboratory’s annual retreat, which consisted of an entire day of various primary investigators presenting their current on-going research. I had the opportunity to interact with all the researchers as well as the research staff, and gain insight into all the work necessary for a research project’s completion. I was so lucky and grateful to be able to engage with the researchers as well as their work for that entire day, which would not have been possible without the funding that allowed me to work in the lab for the summer. Before I apply to medical school, I hope to use these skills to contribute to the growing knowledge of various mental disorders and dedicate time to assist in research that will hopefully make diagnosing and treating these individuals easier and more accessible.

I would not have been able to have these amazing experiences without the funding I received! I was able to develop professional skills that will help me in the future after graduation as well as gain confidence in my ability to contribute to a professional research setting. I am confident in that this experience has helped my professional development, and I am excited to apply these skills to help people that need it most in the near future.

Deadline Friday! Career Services Summer Funding

Deadline: Friday, March 24th
Apply On PennLink, ID#: 837047

Have you identified a really cool summer opportunity but don’t have the financial resources to make it a reality? Many summer internships and summer research opportunities, particularly in certain fields, provide only a small stipend or do not pay at all.  Frequently the internships are located in cities with a high cost of living. This means that many students are unable to take advantage of excellent positions, which are sometimes the first step towards a career in a given field.  Other students wish to participate in not for profit or NGO work abroad, or to do a research project, but the travel costs to get there are prohibitive.

This year, thanks to generous donors, Career Services has a small fund of money to allow returning students to pursue unfunded or under-funded summer opportunities. The funds could cover travel expenses, living expenses, or both.  No award will exceed $3000. For full details, visit our funding page. Curious about other sources of funding at Penn for summer opportunities? Learn more here:


Is It Summer Yet?

With the arrival of Spring and warmer temperatures this week, many students’ thoughts are starting to turn toward the summer. A number have been asking, “What should I be thinking about for my summer job?” Some of you may have secured your dream internship, others are pursuing roles outside of their full-time target industries, and some are still looking for the right fit.

Wherever you are in the process, here are a few thoughts for getting the most out of your summer experience:

  • Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don’t be afraid of looking like you don’t know all the answers – chances are, you don’t.  Regardless of the program, company, or role you take on, it’s highly unlikely that you know everything about it. Asking questions can serve two main purposes – it will 1) show your manager, team, or colleagues that you’re engaged, interested, and thinking about the work, and 2) in turn, give you the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the industry, organization, clients, etc.
  • Put your best effort into everything, even the small tasks. Chances are, you won’t be speaking directly with clients and closing multi-million deals as an intern. There are, however, things that you can do to make your team’s life easier and help build their trust in you. If your colleagues can’t trust you to get something that might seem trivial and irrelevant – for example, data entry, formatting, or a lunch order – correct, it will be difficult for them to trust you with higher-stakes tasks.
  • Remember that this is an opportunity to build valuable skills, knowledge, and relationships for the future. What if your summer internship isn’t all you thought it would be? Or if you are doing something completely unrelated to your target industry? You can use it to gain skills and knowledge that are transferable later on. Whatever job offer you end up taking, remember that someone is giving you an opportunity. Keep a positive attitude, do your job well, and make an effort meet people throughout the organization. You never know where this summer may lead, but it certainly will be one of the first steps on your longer-term career path.

If you have any questions at all, you can always stop by our office to speak with an advisor. Have a great weekend!

Never a “Typical” Day

hope1bThis is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This final entry for 2015 is by Hope MacKenzie, COL ’17

This summer, I worked at an innovative and unique advertising agency called Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners. RTOP’s off-the-wall office was located on the top two floors of 1 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. The office was definitely a sight: the walls, floors, desks, and even bathrooms were anything from art pieces to Christmas ornaments to Elvis paraphernalia (in fact, there was even an “Elvis Room” was dedicated to the King himself). One time, upon walking in, a construction worker asked if the office was a daycare! The creative space was really just an outward display of the creativity that spread throughout the agency. RTOP is small but mighty; with powerhouse clients like Planet Fitness and Dial Soap for Men, they have clientele comparable to that of a much bigger, more established agency. In fact, RTOP won this year’s Ad Age Best Small-Sized Agency award. Overall in my position as a Social Media Strategy Intern, I not only learned a lot about the creation and spread of social media marketing campaigns, but I also gained a clearer understanding of the structure of an advertising agency.

hope2As a “creative” (a person working on the wording and visualizing of ads), I had a hands-on introduction to the advertising world. My bosses were really co-workers, and my tasks were both important and skilled. I specialized in creating social media posts and campaigns primarily with Planet Fitness, Dockers, Dial for Men, and Honest Kitchen. With a combination of tasks like researching trends in the market, creating presentations for the client, writing and planning the social media posts, or going to client presentations, no two days were the same. For this reason, it is difficult to describe a “typical day,” so instead, I’ll describe each of my tasks and how I’d go about them.

Researching trends in the market: Some days I would sit down with my bosses and fellow interns and examine an area or avenue that our client was interested in pursuing. On those days, I would research things like how to reach a certain audience, what strategies competitors used to break new ground, and how to utilize different platforms to achieve our goals.

Creating presentations for the client: After I conducted the research necessary, I would create PowerPoint presentations that would be critiqued by my bosses to present to the client.

Writing and planning social media posts: This is what I spent the bulk of my time doing, especially for Planet Fitness. I learned the voice of each brand that I represented, and I created a social media cadence of posts for every outlet – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. This job required a lot of creativity and a complete understanding of how the brand was represented to the public. The cadence would then be critiqued by my bosses as well as the client.

Going to client presentations: On occasion, I would be invited to sit in on actual hope3presentations for clients. This granted me tons of experience in the logistics of how these meetings typically run.

Overall, I really loved my time at RTOP. I would like to personally thank all of the people who made this experience possible for me. Their motto was “be unforgettable.” This banner hung at the entrance of the office as a subtle reminder of their goals as an agency. Though I really learned a lot from this experience, I think that RTOP reminded me how important it is to do just that – to be unforgettable. No matter where I go in life, I know that this experience will stay with me, and this motto will ring true.

A Summer of Cells and Sunshine

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Rolando D.Z. Lyles

lyles1bI spent my Summer in beautiful Miami, FL home of the cool ocean breeze, beautiful palm trees, and where the temperature is rarely below 70 degrees. However, my stay in the city wasn’t to just sulk in the sun. I was given the amazing opportunity to participate and contribute to the ongoing prostate cancer research lab of Dr. Kerry Burnstein at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine. This opportunity was perfectly aligned with my future desires to become a researching professor. What made it better was that I have been interested in the research being conducted in Dr. Burnstein’s lab for the past 2 years and to secure a position in her University of Miami lab for a Summer was surreal for me. Furthermore, for this Summer in particular, it was important for me to be stationed in Miami because my father who is fervently battling with prostate cancer lives there and I don’t want to miss any opportunities to secure lasting memories with him.

In the lab, I worked under the direct tutelage of Dr. Burnstein and Dr. Meghan Rice. Dr.lyles2 Burnstein’s Lab and team not only welcomed me with open arms, but gave me my own project that intersected with the other projects that were being conducted by the other members of the lab. I wasn’t just sitting around doing menial lab tasks; I was actually contributing to the progression of science. My specific project involved 3D culturing prostate cancer cell lines on a special scaffold type that was acquired through a collaboration with another university. Unlike traditional lyles43D cancer cell culturing scaffolds, this scaffold didn’t only allow the cells to grow in a more natural spherical form, but it prompted the cells to cluster into micro-tumoriods as would be seen only in in vivo conditions. My task was to first run experiments to determine how to optimize the growing conditions for different cell lines with varying gene knockouts. This then transitioned to conducting separate five to six day experiments which involved culturing, fixing, probing then staining these cell lines in order to use confocal imaging techniques to visualize tumoroid growth and make comparisons across cell populations. These scaffolds have the potential to revolutionize the personalized care sector of cancer medicine by creating an inexpensive system for culturing patient lyles3biopsies and then tailoring specific treatments for improving that patient’s cancer by monitoring tumoriod progression.

Not only was this experience extremely enlightening but it has also helped propel my desires to continue my education after I graduate and pursue a doctorate degree. My time in Miami was spent just as would be expected. I spent my weekdays (an occasional Saturdays) conducting experiments in the lab. My evenings and weekends were spent with family enjoying quality time and embracing all that Miami has to offer. It was so fulfilling every day to wake up, get dressed and spend my day contributing to something that can potentially help better piece together our understanding of cancer, and save countless lives. One of the most gratifying parts of this Summer experience is that maybe one day in the future when the scaffolds are widely used throughout clinical research I can proudly say that I was one of the first researchers to ever work with them. As an undergraduate! Opportunities such as mine this past summer are what create tomorrow’s leaders.