Focus Internship

By: Amanda Hodgkins

What is a Focus Internship?

We get this question a lot. One of the reasons I love Emory’s program are the significant research opportunities. The Focus Internship (FI) involves four main areas.

1. The first is working as an intern with your focus mentor. For some this will mean seeing patients on a regular basis, others don’t see any patients. Basically, we work with our mentors on other research-related activities for approximately 4-8 hours a week during the fall and spring semesters and a four week full-time internship in the summer between our first and second year. This can mean anything from working on other research projects, entering research data, working on a registry, seeing research patients, etc.

2. The second is your capstone project. This is the most significant portion of the FI. During the summer of our first year, anywhere from 15-30 mentors from all different areas will come and present their project or areas of interest in order to create a project with them. You will work with them and a 3-person capstone committee on a project that will eventually produce data that will feed into the third part, a publishable manuscript.

3. As I described, the third part is producing a manuscript rather than a thesis. The manuscript is mandatory, the publishable part is strongly recommended. Our first two classes have all pursued publishing and have even presented their research at various meetings (like NSGC).

4. The fourth part is a mock grant. We work on and develop an idea that can be related to our FI. We’re “given” $150,000 per year for three years and over the period of Spring and Summer of our first year we create a thorough mock grant proposal. The purpose of this part of the FI is the experience of doing research, coming up with an idea, and pursuing financial backing for your idea. However, some mentors may even like your mock grant idea so much that they want to pursue it in real life.

I love my Focus Internship. I think it is a very unique opportunity to get thorough experience in research that I will be able to use in the future.

Additional tips from the focus panel that we had last week:

· Research the mentors, see what kind of work they do and what previous papers they have been on.

· Ask mentors you interview with if they have any recommended papers or resources that support their project.

· Ask mentors what they are looking for in a mentee and what additional activities they can offer you.

· Is seeing patients as a part of your rotation important to you? Make sure you ask if your potential mentor has any opportunities for you to see patients.

· Are you the kind of person who needs regular meetings with your mentor, or can you take an idea and run with it, so to speak, without a significant amount of input from your mentor? Make sure you get a sense for what your potential mentor prefers. A lot of times, they will say this upfront, but in case they don’t, make sure to ask.

· The most important part is picking a mentor that you can work well with. Even if your interest in the project is not as significant up front, if you get along well with your mentor, that will make for a much more pleasant focus internship.

· Prepare a list of what you bring to the table. Similar to your interview for the program, make sure you can say how certain experiences would help you on a project or how it would benefit the project’s team. If you don’t have any experiences, just make sure you have a reason for why you are interested in that specific project.

· Keep an open mind while people are presenting their projects. Interview for projects that you may know nothing about, you never know where that may lead and you may develop a passion for an area you may have not heard about before coming here.

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask any of us! -Amanda Hodgkins Class of 2016