Psychology major’s internship boosts students’ confidence through programming

College of Wooster student holds notebook in front of table on behalf of the PAST Foundation

Annie Cohen ’22 served as a research intern at the PAST foundation, which merges anthropology and STEM to help students apply learning to hands-on experiences. During a summer program, Cohen researched the effects learning how to program had on students in Grades 3-8. 

“My APEX Fellowship made me realize that I actually like working with people and that no matter what I do, I want to have a career and life where I can make a difference in the world!” – Annie Cohen 

How did you learn about the internship opportunity for your APEX Fellowship? Why was the position a good fit for you?  

“I learned about the internship opportunity for my APEX Fellowship because I previously worked for the PAST Foundation as an intern for the RemotEDx Listening Tour. My mother is the Impact Officer of PAST and has worked here since 2007. Through my previous internship, as well as my inside knowledge, I knew that PAST would be a great place for me to work. The people who work there are incredibly kind and smart and they are doing important work. I love doing research and this summer internship allowed me to conduct my own research and practice writing client-ready research reports, which I knew were skills I wanted to work on prior to starting my Independent Study this fall.” 

What interests you most about the work you did? What were some of the things you did each day? 

What interests me most about the work I did is the impact it will have. It was amazing to work on research that I knew could lead to changes in PAST’s summer STEM programming. I previously took Educational Psychology with Professor Aubrey Whitehead (former Perry-Williams Postdoctoral Fellow of Psychology) and it was amazing to see how the theories we had discussed in our class worked in real life (PAST’s motto is Linking Learning to Life, so it was fitting!). It was also interesting to see how just one or two weeks of programming impacted students’ confidence and skills. I got to do a lot of interesting things in my day-to-day experiences, but no day was the same. I did over 20 on-site observations at various locations, including an urban farm in downtown Columbus and the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University. I observed camps surrounding various subjects, including Minecraft STEM, Aviation, Outdoor Photography, and Mission to Mars: Robots & Agriculture. I also worked with data from an agricultural organization’s student programming, data collected from two urban school districts, in addition to PAST internal data, to see how programs affected student confidence and skills, along with what students did and did not like about various summer programs.” 

Who was your Fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

My fellowship mentor was Professor Matthew Mariola (associate professor of environmental studies). He helped me succeed by guiding me to reflect on what I learned and connecting me to campus. After spending the last school year studying remotely, it was nice to have a tangible connection to Wooster before returning to campus in the fall.” 

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see carrying forward into your career? 

I have learned a lot of new skills that I hope I can use in the future, although I am not yet sure exactly what I want to do as a career. One of the careers I am considering is clinical psychology research. I have improved my research skills over the course of the summer and learned how to analyze open-ended questions (qualitative data), which was something I had not had the opportunity to do before. Another career I am considering is as a rabbi or Jewish educator. I have learned networking and communication skills which would be valuable in that field.” 

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you? 

While I still do not know what I want to do for a career, it has solidified my interest in conducting research. It has also made me realize that I actually like working with people and that no matter what I do, I want to have a career and life where I can make a difference in the world!” 

Posted in Experiential Learning on October 25, 2021.