While most teens spent their summer waiting tables and scooping ice cream, three Bexley students took the idea of a summer job to a new level by diving into the world of STEM at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Senior Addison Helon said she began her average day by navigating the shuttle system to her research building, where she’d attend weekly office meetings, read research articles and help out with organizational tasks and projects.
Helon said being in such a focused environment over her summer break took its toll.
“The work itself was kind of draining,” Helon said. “Even though I wasn’t always sitting down at a desk and working for that whole eight hours, it was still pretty draining just having to show up and be present and be doing things for all of that time.”
She added that the internship was an adjustment from the traditional classroom environment most students are used to.
“Getting that experience taught me a lot about being okay with not knowing things and just kind of accepting that you’re learning a lot,” she said.
Senior Masha Shonia said her work mainly consisted of pulling cases from a database and using field-specific criteria to either include or exclude each case from her research.
She said her intensive workload forced her to get good at quickly reading cases, as she had to code 12,000 cases over four weeks.
“I had to get pretty good at using software that I had never even heard of before,” Shonia said.
Senior Eli Abel said his time in the lab has given him a deeper understanding of cystic fibrosis and gene therapy. He said much of his time in the beginning was spent in the lab observing and being observed by his co-workers until he felt confident in his abilities.
“Now, I can run experiments pretty much on my own,” he said.
Helon said she also learned a lot from her time in the lab, explaining that much of it involved training to use technology and lab materials she hadn’t experienced in other environments.
Most of the participants left the internship when school started, but Abel said he has continued his work at the research facility despite his schoolwork.
“I just come in whenever I can,” Abel said. “It’s probably 15 to 20 hours a week.”
Abel said the internship has helped him in his academic life as well, especially in his biology class.
“It’s definitely supplementing my learning because every single day I go in there, I learn something new about biology and cells and cystic fibrosis,” Abel said.
Shonia said she saw the internship as a stepping stone to a potential career in STEM.
“I knew that I wanted to go into STEM in the future, so I was like, ‘Okay, how can I cultivate this over the summer?’” she explained.
Helon said she also sees the experience as an asset to her path toward a future STEM career.
“I’m interested in pursuing a career in medicine,” Helon said. “This was sort of a way to try out the research side of that, and just see if it was something I liked.”
Shonia added she found the internship to be beneficial to her professional development as well.
“It not only helped me learn a lot, but I developed a lot of connections through it,” Shonia said.
Helon said Nationwide’s professional environment taught her a lot.
“It taught me to take risks and become better at speaking on the spot in a work setting,” she explained.
Helon said she believes that despite the strenuous nature of this type of internship, the experience is worth the trouble.
“Even though it’s a little bit scary to do an experience like that, I think it’s important because it teaches you more about yourself and how to push yourself,” she said.