Letter to Students


2016 LETTER

Dear Intern Mentor/STEM Student,

I am writing this letter in late May of 2016, when I have the chance to put some thought into this letter. Fortunately, I enrolled in the Intern Mentor program as a junior so I will be around when you read this. Keep in mind that the advice I share here is quite brief. If you would like to discuss, I am usually at Mrs. Bagley’s room during lunch.

Personally, I have been very fortunate with my experiences in the Intern Mentor program. In working with Mrs. Bagley, I have found mentors at local universities. This past year, I worked with a professor in the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and conducted research in quantum computation. Since January, I joined a professor’s research group in the physics department at Johns Hopkins University. I’m proud to say that I was officially invited as a visiting research student. So don’t underestimate Mrs. Bagley’s potential to help you!

Completing Mrs. Bagley’s assignments is fairly straightforward. Don’t treat them as a burden but rather as part of the project you are working on e.g. I created a display board for the science fair, but it was also part of the assignments so I did not have to complete extra work. Mrs. Bagley is quite flexible with adjusting assignments to suit your needs. Just let her know in advance and you will be fine. Only basic time management is required to be successful if you know how to optimize your workload. Another administrative matter is acting maturely and professionally outside the school environment. Interning at an institution is a unique opportunity to get exposed and get a head start in your area especially if you plan to work in that field in the future.

Following similar reasoning, I think integrating career goals with your internship will be extremely useful for your preparation and experience. Otherwise, try to find something that you might be interested in. For the field of science research, I strongly recommend finding a professor at a local university for your mentorship. Research is the main focus in academia and that’s where the interesting problems are studied. Keep in mind that professors are extremely busy so don’t expect them to spoon-feed you. From their perspective, as one of their students, you should aim for and expect to be treated like one of their graduate students. Obviously they will provide more guidance for a high-school student lacking the background knowledge, but the approach to mentoring students stays the same. Get used to finding resources and learning on your own – it will only prepare you as a researcher. On the other hand, it’s best if the professor has graduate students who may be able to spend time with you discussing about the project and working together. Having the ability to self-study and work in a team are important skills for research!

For competitions, remember why you conducted your research. You did the investigation because you feel passionate about the problem you are working on. It’s important to stay focused on your research over any prize. Find competitions that fit your strengths and that are relevant to your work. Be friendly to your judges and make sure they fully understand your project. And even if you don’t win, don’t let it discourage you from your path. I look forward to seeing you around school next year!

Best Regards,

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Kevin Huang

2017 LETTER

Dear Intern Mentor/STEM Student,

As a former student of the Intern Mentor program for two years, I would like to share some experience as you embark on your exciting research journey. Please keep in mind that the advice I share here is quite brief.

Mrs. Bagley’s mentorship has been the fundamental and irreplaceable part of the Intern Mentor program. From working with her, I found mentors at local universities. Two years ago, I worked with a professor in the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and conducted research in quantum computation. Last year, I joined a professor’s research group in the physics department at Johns Hopkins University and worked in condensed matter. From these internships, I was fortunate to have won multiple competition awards and publication opportunities. Don’t underestimate Mrs. Bagley’s ability to help you!

Completing her assignments is fairly straightforward. Don’t treat them as a burden but rather as part of the project you are working on e.g. I created a display board for the science fair, but it was also part of the assignments so I did not have to complete extra work. Mrs. Bagley is quite flexible with adjusting assignments to suit your needs. Just let her know in advance and you will be fine. You only need basic time management to be successful if you know how to optimize your workload.

Interning at an institution is a unique opportunity to get exposed and get a head start in your area. For the field of science research, I would recommend finding a professor at a local university for your mentorship. Research is the main focus in academia and that’s where the interesting problems are studied. Keep in mind that professors are extremely busy so don’t expect them to spoon-feed you. From their perspective, as one of their students, you should aim for and expect to be treated like one of their graduate students. Obviously they will provide more guidance for a high-school student lacking the background knowledge, but the approach to mentoring students stays the same. Get used to finding resources and learning on your own – it will only prepare you as a researcher. On the other hand, it’s best if the professor has graduate students who may be able to spend time with you discussing about the project and working together. Being able to self-study and work in a team are both important skills for research!

For competitions, remember why you conducted your research. You did the investigation because you feel passionate about the problem you are working on. It’s important to stay focused on your research over any prize. Find competitions that fit your strengths and that are relevant to your work. Be friendly to your judges and make sure they fully understand your project. And even if you don’t win, don’t let it discourage you from your path. With no prior experience, I started my junior year desperate to find a mentor. Now, I’m preparing for Stanford University. Just remember – don’t give up. Good luck!

Sincerely,

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Kevin Huang
kevinshuang.com

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