My time as a Gil intern prepared me more for the graduate and professional world than any other class or experience throughout my time at UNC. I interned at the Neurocognition and Imaging Research Lab (NIRL) in the department of psychiatry. I was able to gain valuable clinical experience by assisting EEG technicians to prepare patients for EEG testing, conducting phone screenings, researching potential new experiments and participating in peer review for journal publications. Working in this capacity with real hands on experience is truly the only way to determine what you feel comfortable with, enjoy and want to work towards in the field of psychology. I became familiar with the logistics that go into conducting human research from IRB approval and patient recruiting to method development and data analysis.
Not only was this experience how I decided to continue pursuing research as a career, but also made me a competitive candidate entering the interview process. As an intern, I attended many professional development seminars and activities through UNC’s career services. I felt confident in my resume, networking ability, professional conduct and interview skills. I obtained a research fellowship through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education at the Centers for Disease Control in the Division of Laboratory Sciences. At the CDC, I study environmental exposure to volatile organic compounds that are mainly the product of tobacco smoke exposure. I work to establish exposure levels and identify other trends in exposure. Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and, as such, is at the heart of health psychology and the public health initiative. Establishing who is smoking, how much they smoke, and their smoking topography is a good step toward eventually developing more efficient psychological tactics for the eventual cessation of this deadly habit.
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