Name: Meghan G. Donahue
Class Year: 2021
Position & Company: Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (Intern, Research Assistant)
1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.
This summer, I interned at the Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit where I was trained to function as a full time Research Assistant, and support the functioning of multiple Alzheimer’s clinical drug trials. I had the opportunity to interact with patients presenting a wide array of cognitive abilities on a daily basis as I took their vital signs, performed EKGs, drew their blood, and administered some cognitive testing. I became adept at retrieving the major medical history of potential trial participants, and collaborated with a panel of medical professionals as they assessed these factors and other clinical measures leading to a diagnosis.
2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship
As a psychology major with a health professions career track, I frequently integrated my academic learning into my day to day responsibilities. One specific example of how I applied my classroom learning to my internship focused on the techniques necessary to process blood labs that were drawn in the office . The challenge of balancing a centrifuge and pipetting contents from a vile utilized skills that I have practiced during my Chem and Bio lab periods. Having had this academic experience, I felt calm and confident when handling these blood samples, and competently transferred the contents from my very first assignment onward.
3. What has surprised you about being an intern?
Something that surprised me about being an intern was how easy it was to grasp new workplace concepts, and apply what I have been learning in the Holy Cross classroom to real life applications. While many students find the meticulous detail of courses to be an annoyance at times, questioning if they are even pertinent to the functions of a future career, I was able to connect many bigger picture concepts to my coursework at Holy Cross. My knowledge of psychology, cognition, memory, biology, chemistry and anatomy and physiology made my transition at Yale this summer fairly seamless and smooth.
4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?
Since I am planning for a career in healthcare, what better opportunity than to be trained at a world-class medical institution in an arena that focuses on a disease that has impacted millions globally? Not only was I able to log some of those coveted patient contact hours required for any PA school, but I was also able to practice some of the basic medical and interpersonal skills and techniques that I will be using for the rest of my professional life.
5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?
My internship advice would be to identify what you want, and then try to get it. Just because a Holy Cross student has never had an internship at a site that interests you, do not be afraid to strategically reach out and see if they would be amenable to the idea. If you are able to secure a HC funded stipend, you are also in a position to market yourself as “free” to them. I was the first non- Yale undergraduate student to intern at the ADRU. I was so fortunate to secure the funding from Holy Cross, and then successfully tap into the HC alumni network to help me navigate the process, identify decision makers and share advice. I would not have had the amazing ten-week internship that I had this summer if I had not figured out how to make a compelling “ask”. If I can do it, so can others.