Blog Reflection Post 3

What new skills are you developing? Have you identified other skills to develop in the future?

When it came to research, I didn’t think that I needed to develop any new skills. However, much as with other misconceptions I had about graduate school, I was very, very wrong. No matter how much you think you know about research, there’s always more to learn.

Specifically, this internship is really helping me develop my improvisation skills. Although we live in a glorious age of digitized newspapers with searchable text, sometimes even an algorithm or a supercomputer messes up. If a term that I searched for isn’t highlighted in the text, I have to make some decisions: do I just skip this example and use another one that is easier to locate? If not, how do I go about finding the word “famous” in the page of a newspaper without reading through every line of text? In most cases, rather than worry about whether I’m cherry-picking data, I mostly go through the newspaper.

However, when it comes to compiling my own database of celebrity politicians, I understand that it’s dangerous to go down rabbit holes. Sometimes it’s more important to get down a name and make a note that it needs fact-checking rather than spending a half-hour trying to access dead links to old newspaper articles. Where is my time best spent? I’ve had to make hard decisions, and since I’m working digitally, I can’t always ask my boss questions about every single problem I come across. In a way, the digital internship has taught me to be self-sufficient–to solve my own problems.

In the near future, I might have to write a summary of all my research. While I’m using to writing research papers, I’m not accustomed to writing for audiences outside the academic world. However, I do look forward to flexing this skill, since I’m eager to share what I’ve learned over these past few months with others.

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