More Than Just Research 

Chelsea Wu, GSE Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies Human Development, 2023

As the summer sun sets on the past few months, I find myself immersed in a multitude of emotions and experiences that have collectively transformed my perception of what a summer should entail. While the title “More Than Just Research” might hint at an emphasis on academic pursuits, my summer journey has unfolded as a kaleidoscope of personal growth, unexpected connections, and a deeper understanding of the world around me. 

Initially, the summer was poised to be a season dedicated solely to research endeavors. I had secured a position as a research assistant in the Growing Mind project, under the guidance of Dr. Frye and my cherished mentor, Soo. My focus was on delving into children’s cognitive development, and I was eager to learn. Through bi-weekly lab meetings, where Soo and each RA presented their ongoing work, and through casual conversations with fellow RAs in the lab, I gained a basic familiarity with decision-making in children and their understanding of true and false beliefs. The project was in its initial stages of designing experimental procedures and materials, so everything was new and waiting to be explored. I took on the role of video editing. Despite my limited prior experience with video editing, the lab became a playground for innovation—a space where failures were embraced as steps toward progress. This experience taught me that research is not just about discovering facts; it’s about building resilience and nurturing creativity. 

Engaging with a diverse group of colleagues added a new dimension to my summer escapades. Crafting experimental videos proved to be no small feat. It required us to draft scripts that aligned with our research objectives. The production team then brought these scripts to life through filming, followed by editing to match the vision. Our collective efforts came together during detailed feedback sessions. These late-night discussions, fueled by our shared passion for exploration, revealed the mosaic of cultures and perspectives that converged in this academic haven. Each individual became a storyteller, their narratives woven into the fabric of our collective experience. These interactions underscored the importance of interpersonal connections, reminding me that learning extends far beyond textbooks and papers—it flourishes in the exchange of ideas and stories. 

Reflecting on these past few months, I now realize that my summer experience has been a journey of integration—a tapestry woven from the threads of academic exploration and human connection. It has been a reminder that life’s most meaningful experiences arise from a willingness to embrace the unexpected, to dive into the unknown with an open heart and mind. The culmination of this journey was marked by the successful completion and submission of my manuscript to the AERA conference. As I step into the next chapter of my journey, I carry with me the lessons and memories of a summer that defied expectations and redefined the very essence of exploration. 

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 GAPSA Summer Internship Funding Program that is coordinated by Penn Career Services. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services