My name is Mireia, I’m 24 years-old, and a few days ago I started an internship at Scite – Science Crunchers. Before the first meeting I was equal parts scared and excited: the “there’s so much to learn!!!” thoughts and the “…and so many opportunities to mess it up” were mixed. But hey, all new experiences are scary, and such fears are often unfounded and do not translate into reality. However, I was (and I am) determined not to mess it up.
In An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, Chris Hadfield declares that the most valuable teammate “aims to be a zero”. Hadfield establishes 3 levels: the minus one (someone actively creating problems), the zero (who has a neutral impact) and the plus one (someone actively adding value). To avoid becoming a negative contributor one should seek to be a zero: being competent, efficient, and learning through observation and asking questions. Trying to be a plus one from the get-go will come off as pretentious but aiming to be a zero will provide a chance to actually become a plus one. The book is filled with lots of cool space and first-hand astronaut information and life tips, but that one stuck with me and it is exactly my aim in this internship: do my job professionally, ask a lot of questions and learn as much as I can, hopefully being helpful to my coworkers.
After this life lesson you may think I sound confident, but before that first meeting I went over who I am in my head way too many times, trying not to have to improvise my ‘life story’ (as if I could get it wrong). All the ‘me’ preparation and fears were worthless. Meeting the team was smooth and fun; a brief catch-up at the beginning of the week to check what projects everyone is working on in an environment dominated by complicity and background noise of jokes and laughs.
I am no Chris Hadfield, but hopefully this blog series will inspire you, or at least, provide some insights. As someone who felt pretty lost when finishing my undergraduate studies, I have always appreciated stories, honest opinions, and first-hand experiences from others who, at some point, underwent a similar process.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Genetics, I didn’t really know where my professional career should go next. I was interested in doing so many things that I didn’t know which one I wanted to settle for. Eventually my choice was something that would allow me to keep learning (and talking) about anything and everything, so after being born and raised in Catalunya, I packed my bags and moved to Dublin to study a masters in Science and Health Communication. As part of my studies I am required to do an internship placement, and here we are (remotely, because Covid-19 happened and instead of packing my bags to Lisbon I packed them back home).
The first week has been a good one. I have already experienced how quickly things move in a company and how people are constantly adapting to better allocate their resources, but most importantly their time, to meet the established deadlines. Different people juggling several projects and tasks connected to each other at the same time means that communication is a crucial tool, something I already knew, but hadn’t experienced in some of my previous jobs. Importantly as well is the establishment of a friendly environment whereby coworkers feel relaxed, comfortable and are encouraged to share their work and get each other’s insights and thoughts to deliver their best pieces. Given this mix of work and responsibilities, kindness and fun, this feels like a scicomm summer camp.