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 Sara Gormley, COL ’19
“Hola, are you Paula?” I asked the woman at the bottom of the airport escalator holding a sign with my name on it, as they do in all the movies. I had just disembarked my 10-hour flight down the Atlantic from Toronto to Buenos Aires. As one of four kids of a single father from a lower- (emphasis on the lower) middle class suburb of Philadelphia, I normally would not have been able to afford a flight of this nature, let alone accept an unpaid internship in Argentina. But here I was, asking, in my best Spanish, my would-be host mom if she were there to pick me up.
The following Monday I began my 8-week internship at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) as a Research Intern through Penn’s Think Tank Global Internship Program. Each day I was greeted with kindness, Argentine charm, and multiple kisses with multiple people. Customary right-cheeked muahs. For every person in a room. Whenever anyone came into the room for a meeting. To say hello. To offer a snack. What at first seemed comical to me because of the sheer length of time it took up (and because of my Western upbringing), this greeting soon became second nature. Truth be told, I’ve become fond of it – the kisses remove a barrier of personal space, dissolving social anxieties with it.
And yet, the workroom always felt professional and safe. I felt comfortable asking questions, albeit in imperfect Spanish, and expanding upon my work assignments according to my interests. After expressing my background in psychology as a major and as a research assistant in Philadelphia, my supervisor put me in contact with their Social Protection Team. Together we discussed the possibility of beginning a project on implicit bias in the Argentine workforce, particularly implicit gender bias. With my remaining time at CIPPEC, I was to write a literature review on this topic and potential interventions on corporate and policy scales, as a way to jumpstart the project.
Before starting my internship, I had thought that I would scrap my background in psychology and pursue a career in human rights, potentially at an international institute like CIPPEC. My time at CIPPEC has allowed me to explore a potential avenue to combine these two interests. In doing so, I realized that there is a space for psychological research in such institutions. Thanks to the funding I received from Penn’s Career Services, I was not only able to further define my career aspirations, but also have the summer of my life, as a low-income student.