Summertime Stories of Meaningful Work
Despite the incessant challenges of COVID-19, ninety-five students were still able to take part in Bowdoin’s CXD Funded Internship Program. They had positions across the country, spanning all areas of personal and career interests.
Many of the internships were remote, some were hybrid, and others were fully in person. Regardless of their job's focus and format, though, a common sentiment expressed by students was the joy they experienced seeing the positive impact they made on communities.
“I was incredibly amazed at the resiliency of students in the midst of a pandemic—and their creativity, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship," CXD Associate Director Meg Springer said. "It’s just inspiring to see what you can make happen in your life amid challenging experiences.” Springer helped organized an outdoor poster fair in a tent on Dudley Coe Quad Monday afternoon.
Active San Gabriel Valley, cycling and pedestrian nonprofit, Los Angeles, California
"The mission is to make LA a more walkable and bikeable city. They do a lot of legislative outreach and support, so my time this summer was spent reaching out and supporting different bills going through local and state governments. I was able to testify at a California state senate environmental committee hearing on a water quality bill, which was really cool! And then the other part of my summer I was fixing up old bikes to distribute to low-income individuals in the community. It was a great experience.”
“The best part of the summer was getting to give out some of the bikes I had fixed up. It was really rewarding to see people. These bikes meant a lot to them in terms of getting to school or a job, and also for kids who are now able to have fun. It was nice to see my work tangibly changing the community around me, as opposed to a lot of other occupations, no matter how hard you work.”
Mount Sinai, New York City, in the lab of Allan Geliebter, which specializes in obesity, food intake, and eating disorders
"The study [I worked on] is a National Institutes of Health-funded study that looks at the dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, and non-caloric beverages within various communities. They give different groups discounts to see if they will eat healthier...So, basically, if fruits and vegetables are cheaper, are people more likely to buy and consume them? I was a part of the interim analysis team, where we looked at all the halfway data points to see if there was anything significant. I also collected data...asking people what they ate, doing different body weight measurements, or looking at their blood sample to see if there were any abnormalities.”
“This is the first lab that I’ve ever been a part of, and something I will always appreciate is how much my boss, Annie, the lab manager, does for the study and how much organization goes into conducting a long-term study. It was so awesome to see how she works.”
US Sailing, diversity, equity, and inclusion internship at the national governing body for sailing, Bristol, Rhode Island
"I really focused on ways to look at how we can make the sport of sailing, as a whole, more aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. It involved putting together panels, working with a subcommittee of their board of directors in an effort to develop goals, and finding ways to make our sport more diverse—which was very powerful and impactful.”
“I’ve been sailing since I was eight. I also sail on the team here at Bowdoin. It’s been a lifeline—a love and passion of mine. I’ve always known there are not many minorities in sailing. Since coming to Bowdoin and being a part of the Athletes of Color Coalition, and simply through speaking with other athletes, I’ve begun to ask questions about how we can bring awareness to different issues. Over the past year, I’ve been working with College Sailing and that was one of the ways I was connected to US Sailing. It’s been very impactful.”
Veggies to Table, Newcastle, Maine, a nonprofit with a “grow to give” model, donating produce to local food pantries and YMCAs
"I was doing a lot of manual labor, mostly farm work, and through this I learned about sustainable agriculture as well as how it relates to the community. We also went to food pantries and talked to them about what we could be growing to meet the actual demands of people here."
"I was living on the farm this summer with two other Bowdoin interns as well as the other staff, so definitely the community aspect of it was really nice. I felt like I was living in the commune. We could also eat food from the farm—the food we had grown—which was really enjoyable, too. Seeing the impact of my work firsthand was great, as well.”
"I worked, specifically, in a senescence lab. Senescence is essentially a part of the cell cycle. You have a point where the cell can exit the cycle temporarily to regain more information and get ready for another cycle. There are a lot of [RNA] transcripts, so we had to map them. I mapped them specifically for A549 cells, which are lung cancer cells, and also DDLS cells, which are sarcoma cells.”
"I think the greatest takeaway for me was...how everyone wants to talk about research. People really want to take the time to teach the new generation, and opportunities like this allow you to do those random jobs where you don’t get paid and you’re not really asking for anything from them except to teach you and for you to learn.”
Office of US Congressman Jared Golden, Lewiston, Maine, and Washington, DC. Golden is the representative for Maine's Second District.
"I did a combination of tasks: policy memos, helping people get their passports and tax returns, community visits, all that sort of stuff. And I think part of what I liked most about it was really being immersed in the work of The Hill because I’m really interested in policy, myself, and it showed me the inside view of how it all works, whereas usually we get the outside view from the news. It showed me, too, something I think I’d like to do after graduation.”
“One of the things I enjoyed most was going out into the community. We had community visits out to, for example, the wastewater sewage plant in one of the towns in the district because they were going to be awarded federal funding. Going out there and being able to break that news to them and deal directly with the constituents was something I thought was wicked cool, because you sort of get to see the change as it's happening and how it can affect people.”
“Something that was challenging, I would say, would be when my views diverged with the congressman’s. That's sort of something you have to learn to deal with, especially when you're doing policy work—knowing that the votes they’re going to make aren’t always going to be what you believe in, but understanding that and working with them anyway.”