Hieu Van

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Hieu Van

Major: Biochemistry
Intern Title/Name of Organization: Cancer Research Summer Fellow, University of CO Cancer Center, Summer 2014

How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process?
I found about the internship through a Google search for undergraduate summer research programs in many universities and colleges which accept international student. The application process is a typical process for summer internship with the deadline in February and the requirement of a personal statement and two letters of recommendation.

What were some of the highlights?
I think the highlights were the lectures that were offered by the University twice a week for the program participants. These lectures gave us some knowledge and a deeper look into various types of cancer, different types of cancer research, and also a variety of career options for biomedical fields.

What was a "typical day" like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
A “typical day” usually included work from 9am to 5pm, and several of my major responsibilities in the lab include running experiments as well as collecting and analyzing data collected during those experiments.

What were some of the challenges of your internship?
One of the challenges was getting to know the other colleagues I would be working with during the summer. I needed to accept the fact that they knew a great deal and I wanted to learn from them.

What did you learn?
I think the most surprising thing that I experienced during my fellowship was the unpredictable nature of doing research. Thinking about science, we always think about something we know, something that always go as planned; but in reality, it is full of surprises, confusion, mistakes, trials, and educational guesses. Through the internship, I learned that research includes becoming comfortable with unknowns, making errors, and the fact that I may need to start a project over again. Errors and trials are part of research.

What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
Always prepare ourselves to the best of our abilities so that we can grasp the opportunities that arise. In an internship, don't worry about making mistakes or asking questions. We need to be open-minded, keep observing and listening, comprehend the comments from the supervisors, improve ourselves, and we will have great experience.

(January 2015)