Friday, August 3, 2018

Week 10

Week 10 began with me feeling exhausted. This was the beginning of the final week of the internship. First though I needed to complete the funding data on my table. Monday was a very straightforward day in that I was working on just the funding table the whole time. At the end of the day I went home pretty late and slept almost immediately.
Tuesday was the final day before our presentations. By this point I had finished inputting the funding data and also had an extra table done. However looking at everything I wasn’t satisfied with what I had. So I decided to do a bit more work.
That night I went home late and kept working until about 11 pm to get the data in for my tables. I was finally prepared for the presentation. The morning of the presentation I came in there fully prepared. As the presentations started there was a relatively large crowd in the room. I was set to be the fifth presenter and was going over my presentation one last time when I noticed a major problem. One of my slides would not scroll all the way to the right meaning that there were three tables that I couldn’t show people.
So with my nerve levels going through the roof I began my own presentation. I’m told that the presentation went really well, but I felt disappointed overall. I stammered a few times and kept saying uhm a lot. With all of this I still got through the presentations. Afterwards I was now completely finished work wise with the NSF. I spoke to a few of the team members in IIP before heading home for a very satisfying nap.

On thursday I went into the office relatively early. This was to be my last day and there was a bit of paperwork I needed to get done before the closing ceremony. After both things were done I went home. Friday we needed to wake up early and go to QEM to fill out some final paperwork and stuff before the weekend. This was the last time we would be together as a group and so after many goodbyes we all left.       

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Week 9

Week 9 was a very busy week for me. The whole week was based around getting ready for my presentation that was a week away. Monday spent working the whole time. I stayed in the office until about 7pm that night before going home. Part of why I stayed so late was because I was getting work done on my second dashboard.  On Tuesday there was more of the same, during the work there was a bit of a break to have a meeting with my mentor Yuen. This was where I showed her the completed version of my first dashboard. Afterwards we discussed my second dashboard. This led to me realizing that most of the work I did on Monday would be useless for my presentation.
So now with a clear direction for my second dashboard I spent all my time on Tuesday and Wednesday working on inputting the data needed for that second dashboard. At this point I needed to put in all the financial information for research centers from 1998-2017. Thursday was interesting for a number of reasons, but mainly because it offered a very different experience for the day than the week before. There was a meeting with Yuen that morning to go over my work. Unfortunately all I could say was that I had made progress on the work. Then there was the final professional development meeting with the NSF. This one was concentrated on how to give a proper presentation. Then I also needed to leave the building early. This was for the Podcast assignment that we were doing that night at QEM. I would be doing the podcast with Star and Talei, this would basically be a discussion about the overall internship experience. It would also be my first time participating in a podcast.
The podcast went amazing that night. An hour into it and we still had a number of things that we could still talk about. I feel like the conversation was very informative and interesting especially if the listener wanted to participate in the QEM internship.
Friday was all about getting my Final Report done. I should have been working on it throughout the week, but I felt that the presentation work should take priority. I spent the whole day working on this paper. There were a number other things happening that day like meeting with AAAS fellows to get advice on using certain features on Tableau. Meeting with some Program Directors to show off my work so far and get general advice. Some people were also taking trips and wouldn’t be back before the next thursday and so I wouldn’t see them again. I also made sure to get myself added to some mailing list through my personal email so that I would be able to participate in some site visits that I knew would be coming in the next few months. With all of this being done that day I didn’t finish the report before going home. However I decided that I would leave my laptop until it was done. Since I then allowed my phone to distract me for hours at a time from then on I didn’t finish the report until close to 2 am.
Normally this late bedtime on a friday wouldn’t matter but there was a panel that the computer science interns at QEM were participating in at the BWI Airport stop on the Marc train. This meant an early morning wake up. Unfortunately we were all feeling very sluggish that morning and missed the train we were aiming for. This led to an hour of sitting around Union Station. Fortunately leaving at 10 am instead of 9 didn’t hurt us since we weren’t going to be on the panel till noon.
The Forum on Building Research and Education Capacity in Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) had been going on since the day before with professors from all over there to participate. This included Dr. Langdon a professor I’ve had multiple times and who wrote my recommendation for this internship. I made sure to tell her all about my experiences so far and got some lunch before the panel. The panel itself was very interesting. We answered questions about our experience so far at HBCUs and what we thought should change there. At one point it turned into the professors giving us life advice which was interesting, but very much off topic. This also caused a few laughs when the mediator had to stop it. Afterwards we talked to some professors from Florida A&M and a few other institutions. I also met another professor from Bowie State that I had heard of but never met. He ran a Virtual Reality lab on campus and asked me about joining his class and possibly working in his lab as well.
After we finished networking we tried to rush back to DC. Unfortunately the next train didn’t arrive for at least another ninety minutes, so rather than wait I proposed we take a taxi to my house and from there I get the other interns to the nearby metro station. This worked out well.
After dropping them off my mom then took me to my mechanic’s garage to pick up my car. Sadly he didn’t do  a great job because after shutting off the engine when I got home the car would start again as I found out thirty minutes later when I tried. So annoyed I decided to spend the night there. This also allowed me to get help from my cousin on some of my work.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Week 8

Week 8 has been a very interesting and tiring week. At this point we are going into the endgame with regards to our projects. For me this translates to the work being streamlined to what I can present in 2 weeks. So rather than continue cataloging all the data like I have been we changed to me only recording the data I would need for my presentations.
Unfortunately there were a lot of events this week outside of the NSF so I was unable to do as much work as I would have liked. This started with a very interesting trip to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on Monday. Their office is in Gaithersburg so it required quite a long trip to get there. From there we went on a tour of their facilities which amazingly involved seeing a reactor. It was a little scary seeing the signs warning about radiation but they assured us that it was safe. We still needed to go through a special scanner on the way out to make sure we weren’t taking any radiated items out with us. The whole trip lasted until about 1 pm. Most of the other interns left at that point but I stayed to have lunch with Teresa Davies who was the NSF employee that set up this whole trip. We had a very good conversation that led to her telling me about a presentation she was organizing the next day at the NSF that involved some researchers from Antarctica that had dug up a dinosaur.

On Tuesday after doing a bit of work and attending a meeting with my mentor I rushed over to the dinosaur presentation which was very interesting. It was basically the two researchers who went there telling us about the trip there, what it took to get there and the kind of work they did. The whole time there was this awesome looking dinosaur skull sitting on the table in from of them. They also passed around a couple of fossils that they had found. At the end of the hour long talk we were able to come up and touch the skull and take pictures as well. Later in the day when I wanted to leave the fire alarm decided to go off. This meant no elevators to take me down from the 14th floor. At least moving down would be easy I thought. And then over half way through my journey to the lobby I realized that I had left my laptop in my cubicle. So back up I went. By the time I arrived in the lobby later my knees were shaking with every step I took. I’m still not sure if that’s just the effect of moving on so many stairs or if it’s only my horrible fitness.

The rest of that day was spent busily trying to get work done. Wednesday was also a very interesting day. Though this was mainly because of the trip we were taking that morning to the White House. I find it funny that this was the first time I could even remember being at the fence of the White House let alone going on a tour especially considering how long I’ve lived in the area. The tour itself was interesting mainly because a number of the rooms we saw were places I had seen in press conferences and other events. Or that I had heard about in passing like the Blue room. I also found it weird walking through areas that seemed like they would be used regularly if I was living there.

After the tour ended there was a major discussion between the interns about where to eat. With no consensus in the group some went to a restaurant while I and a few others went to Union Station for fast food. I ate Chick Fil A for the first time all summer that day. It was missed. That night there was a meeting at QEM. The meeting was interesting because we talked about the networking we had done so far that week. I realized that while I had done a bit compared to others in the group I needed to step it up.
Thursday was a very straightforward day for me. I went to work and was too busy to do anything outside my cubicle all day. I even stayed in until 7 pm that night, mainly because I lost track of time a little but I was happy with the work I got done.
Friday seemed like it would be more of the same as Thursday for me, but I was surprised to find police at the NSF when I arrived that morning. Apparently there must have been a bomb scare or something because we didn’t get into the building until about 11 am. After that it was exactly like Thursday except that I kept a closer eye on the clock and was out at a more reasonable time.    
Saturday started with a professional development meeting at QEM. My roommates and I made sure to arrive very early for that since we didn’t want to miss the free breakfast that usually came with these morning meetings. The meeting itself was very interesting, it was a workshop done by Crystal Williams called the YOU brand. The biggest takeaway from this was how little people tend to think about themselves. She gave us a bunch of questions based around how we saw ourselves, our ambitions, values and other such things and it took quite a bit of thought to answer them. Even with all that I couldn’t answer all the questions.
After the workshop ended I headed home to Bowie. There I ate some pancakes or crepes as Americans call them. Then got my some work done before a bunch of messing around with the family and a trip back to Arlington much later than I had planned. Overall it was a great day.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Week 7

Now at the beginning of Week 7 we were beginning our midterm meetings. These were meetings with Kendrick to go over how the internship so far and what can be improved. Monday was a pretty normal day for me. I was able to get my work done for the most part. However the problem came about because the Tableau work I had done the previous week wasn’t what my mentor Yuen wanted. So I spent the day working on that.
Tuesday started off very interestingly because while I had left work the day before satisfied with what I had done on Tableau for Yuen. I noticed some things on further review that morning that made me want to redo some of the work. So after delaying our update meeting so I could get this done I annoyingly finished the rework within fifteen minutes and had to now wait hours to show off. While waiting I went back to cataloging the IUCRC data before my rescheduled meeting. There she approved of what I had done so far and after a bit of discussion I was then assigned what I believe to be the hardest assignment I’ve gotten so far.
By this point I was getting a little sick of Tableau so I spent most of that day cataloging data. Unfortunately this lead to me losing track of time and leaving the NSF late for my midterm review appointment. So after arriving late enough to catch Kendrick on his way to a networking event with Cameron and Elyse, two other interns, I joined them since I had nothing else to do. The event supposedly had something to do with renewable energy or something. We arrived after the presentation and so never really found out. They had good beer though. While there we also met up with Fabienne who had made it to the event on time. She joined us for some Sushi.
Now this is important because I believe this was only the second time in my life that I’ve eaten this. I basically spent the whole meal trying everything. Except for the one with an obvious shrimp sticking out. I enjoyed some and hated some, but most of it was just ok to me. Unfortunately I couldn’t name anything I ate and would have a hard time remembering what I liked in the future. With all of this the night was a lot of fun. I think we sat there talking for at least ninety minutes if not longer.
Wednesday was important to me for two main reasons. The World Cup Semifinal match between England and Croatia being number one and the midterm meeting second. This time I made sure to leave on time for my meeting and literally walked into the QEM office at the exact appointment time. The meeting itself was interesting, I found myself talking a lot more than I thought I would and was surprised by how fast it ended.
At this point it was after 3pm and I had permission from my mentor to not have to make the hour long trip back to the NSF so I did the thing I most wanted to. Went to Public Bar to watch the second half of the England match. The atmosphere was amazing in there as it always is during important games. I found myself talking to this random guy next to me who unfortunately was supporting Croatia. While I enjoyed myself the match itself wasn’t that great from my perspective as an England supporter. They lost. Not very surprising given their history at tournaments, but this year they had finally gotten my hopes up.
At that point I went home, but when I was about to get there I remembered a networking event going on near Howard University that night. So I turned around and went there. While there I made some connections with a Prince George’s County Community College student. His mentor was starting a company and they were a little over a week away from the launch of their app. I met a few others but this was the only substantial person I met there. After getting his number and connecting on linkedin. I made sure to find out the date of the launch and set it on my calendar. Later that night rather than go home I went to Dupont Circle for a few drinks. Rather than go to Front Page or somewhere else I was familiar with I went to a bar with pool, ping pong and other games. I can’t remember its name but I know where to find it now and will be back when I have longer than an hour to spend there.
Thursday was a very routine work day for me followed by a slow night at home. Friday though was a bit more interesting. After work I went home and packed for a weekend with my family. However not wanting to completely miss a Friday night out I compromised and went out later. So after leaving at 9 pm I went to see what Crystal City had to offer. I had never been out there and thought this was a good night to check it out. We went to a hookah bar first called Flirt Lounge for about an hour or two. They had a great DJ but around when I was finally finishing my first beer I was already tired of the volume level. I guess that’s what happens when you avoid drinking too much. Then after wandering around for a while we went to a beer hall. I can’t remember its name but there was just enough time for one 14 oz beer and a few games of Uno using giant cards before we had to leave. By this time it was past 1 am and we needed to rush to catch the final trains.
I was headed to Union station at this point to meet my eldest brother Ndeh who was coming down from New York City. His bus was arriving at 2 am and I figured I could meet up with him. That way when my other older brother Jua came to pick him up I would have a simple ride to Bowie. This worked well except that Jua came way later that he should have. So we didn’t get home until about 3 am. There we found my Uncle, Aunt and cousins from New York. with all the talking and laughter going on I didn’t sleep till about 4:30 am.
The next morning sucked because of a 7 am wake up call. We were taking a trip to Rehoboth beach which was 2 and a half hours away. I was able to escape driving that morning. The day itself was a lot of fun. We played in the water for a few hours before taking a break for the huge lunch my sisters and cousins had brought. Afterwards most of us took a long nap. After a long day like this we got home around 11 pm that night. Unfortunately I had to drive back though. Though exhausted at this point I still went to a local bar to meet up with some friends for an hour before going home to pass out.
Sunday was an amazing day all throughout. It started by watching the World Cup Final with my family. Afterwards we had a BBQ to welcome an Uncle who had just arrived from Cameroon the day before and as a going away party for my sister Alie who was moving to San Francisco for a new job. The house was packed and we all had a great time. To make things even better for me since I needed to return to the apartment in Arlington I wasn’t there for the clean up which must have sucked for the younger cousins that got stuck with it.      

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Week 6

This week started out pretty well again. I feel like keep repeating that starting line over and over again in these blogs, but that can only be a good thing since it shows how well the summer is going. Now after acknowledging that the week as a whole was good and Monday in particular was amazing for reasons I will get to. The fact that we weren’t able to get the day before or after Independence day off sucked. So with that little rant over back to the main topic.
Monday started with a meeting with Yuen my mentor for me. It was just for us to go over what she expected me to get done during the week. The main reason she made this one so early was because the NSF interns were taking a trip to the Capitol that day. Looking back I can now see why we didn’t just meet there to begin with rather than going to the NSF first and then heading to the Capitol. I agreed with others about it being needlessly expensive to make both trips when heading straight to the Capitol was so much faster. However looking back now I can see that there was no way everyone that wanted to go would be there on time making the meetup needlessly complicated. Something I should have immediately realized given my personal issues with punctuality.
The first thing we did after arriving was to meet with Sherrie’s contact there Kathryn Sullivan. She worked for Senator Jon Tester from Montana. She took us to have lunch since it was already noon at this point. Then she took us to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee room for a briefing. The briefing revolved around her over 30 year career working for different offices and agencies within the federal government which included working for Vice President Al Gore. After this we went to find our tour guides. We were then split into 2 groups of 7 and 6 respectively and went through the tour.

After the tour ended I rushed over to a nearby bar to watch the ending of a World Cup round of 16 match between Japan and Belgium before heading home. On Tuesday I went in and just started working on Tableau. I did this throughout the day while looking forward to a night out since we didn’t have to work Wednesday. When I finished at the NSF I went to get a haircut, which turned out great. The main problem was that even with my appointment I ended up having to wait over almost an hour for my turn. I kinda blame this for the fatigue I felt once I got home because I couldn’t muster the will to leave the apartment that night.
Wednesday began very slowly for me. There was no World Cup matches that day so I spent a number of hours just playing video games. Eventually we all got ready and went to the bbq at Dr. Toldson’s house. I was looking forward to the food for this event and planned to leave relatively early to go bar hopping. However I ended up enjoying myself so much that I just couldn’t bring myself to leave early. This translated to my roommates and I being the last guests to leave, which lead to the bonus of chicken, burgers, and mac and cheese coming home with us.

Thursday was basically the same as Tuesday for me in that nothing really happened. I didn’t really accomplish anything since I spent most of the day just working on Tableau. I did get some definite directions from Yuen for what to do in Tableau, but I wasn’t able to accomplish them that day.
Friday was a very eventful day for me. I was able to finish one of the assignments in Tableau. I think I finished the other as well, but I’m not certain of that and will wait for confirmation from Yuen Monday. Along with that we also had a lunch meeting with some of the AAAS fellows and while none were in my field specifically it was very interesting to hear about their experiences. I also asked for general advice from them and for names of people that they thought I should talk to. Finally along with all that I was able to watch some matches while getting my work done and France and Belgium both of whom I was supporting got through the Quarter finals and will meet each other in the Semis. That night I just went home and relaxed with some beer.
Saturday was all about the other 2 World Cup matches until about 4 pm when I again drank some beer, played video games and watched movies on netflix all night. After these 2 exciting evenings at home I finally left the apartment sunday to go play soccer in Columbia Heights with my brother and his team. Unfortunately we lost 4-2 and I wasn’t as helpful as I should have been.   


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Week 5

Week 5 began very well for me. I need to be at from 8:30am till 7pm to make up for the hours I missed on the previous Friday. I thought this schedule would be really hard for me, both waking up earlier and staying late. Fortunately I was only half right, the morning parts of the day were always the worst for me. However I found that staying late was actually easy. I was able to push myself to work harder and focused more on the work especially when the area was empty. I think it also helped that I had a clear goal to meet that would mean my work as a whole would become more interesting the next week if I reached it.
Monday specifically went really well for me. I stayed till exactly 7pm before leaving for a QEM event. We went to an open mic event at Busboys & Poets. This was my first time going to one of these places, and because I had been at work so late it didn’t make sense for me to go home and change first. As a result of this I arrived 45 minutes early for the open mic. Part of the event for QEM interns was to go on stage and do something. Since I had never been to Busboys before I assumed that meant poetry since that is what they are known for. So I talked to friends and family for recommendations on what poem I should read since I had little experience with them. The only one I ended really liking was called The Man in the Glass.
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
I just felt the need to put it here so more people know about it. So that night after the numerous amazing performances from a number of more talented people than me which included a refugee from North Korea who recited a poem about his life in the labor camps there and his eventual escape, and members of the Beltway Poetry team that would represent DC at a national competition I stepped up and read my poem. The event ended around 11 pm and after getting home that meant I went to bed later than I would have liked especially with an early wake up time.
Tuesday didn’t start as well for me, but that was expected with how late I went to bed. So feeling very sluggish I struggled through the morning until we had a professional development meeting with the AAAS fellows at noon. After the meeting I went back to work for a few hours before taking a late lunch break. After the break around 3 pm I finally felt normal again and got quite a bit done from then on. I had a meeting with my mentor at 6:30 that ran a little late so I didn’t actually leave the NSF until 7:45 that night.
Wednesday was a very routine day for me. There was an Engineering Directorate meeting at 1pm, but otherwise the day just flew by with nothing of note happening. Thursday on the other hand was anything but routine. There was a panel called “The Tech Titans and National Security”. I went with my roommates Josh and Jesse, and one of the girls Selam. We are the computer science interns and were the only ones interested. The event itself was very interesting for me with panelist from Google, Microsoft, Endgame and the Government there. The highlight for me though had nothing to do with them. After the keynote speaker Kenneth Wainstein asked for an opinion on Tech companies giving access to phones to law enforcement from a younger person and I stepped up. It was definitely harder than when I recited a poem from my phone, but I was able to speak clearly and get my point across. The event ended relatively around 2pm and so rather than rushing to the NSF for an hour or 2 of work I took advantage of the day off my mentor had given me for this event and went to see Jurassic World 2.
Friday was very routine for me, the only highlight being that I was able to reach the goal for the week. Afterwards I took a trip to Bowie, MD for a small gathering with friends. Since I didn’t want to spend the night there though I left early to catch the train back to Virginia. Of course I took advantage of my proximity to my home there to stop by and get some food.
Saturday was filled with 2 major events. The first was the World Cup, I watched the France vs Argentina match at 10am and then the Portugal vs Uruguay match at 2pm. Only after these matches finished was I willing to leave the apartment and meet some of the interns at the National Mall. There was a Catalonia/Armenian Culture festival going on there. By the time I arrived most things seemed to be winding down, but I was still able to eat some Catalonian food and then listening to a concert. Though I’m not sure whether the concert was in Armenian or Catalan, either way it was interesting to listen to and watching some families dancing to it nearby was especially fun.

After the festival ended I was still feeling a bit hungry and convinced Josh and Sandra the only 2 left that we should go to a crepes spot. My plan was to take the subway there, but Sandra insisted we walk the 1.7 miles to the store. The crepes were amazing and I even had some left over for breakfast the next morning. Then completely exhausted I returned home and passed out the second I got in bed.      

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Week 4: The Kom Convention

This week started out in a very routine manner. Monday was very productive since I had spent Friday reviewing my data and was more confident in the work I was doing now. The day was spent working quietly at my desk. The most dramatic event of the day was when I had a snickers bar and hot fries as lunch in an attempt to save money. This turned out to be a really good idea because I repeated it later and plan to continue it in the future. That night there were no plans to go out so I just relaxed in the apartment until bedtime came.
Tuesday was a little more eventful for me but more because this is when I realized that I would probably be travelling to New York on thursday. There was a Kom convention that weekend and I had made a commitment to attend. The Kom convention was the annual event where members of the Kom community based all over the United States would come together for a weekend. Even though I never lived in Kom myself, it is where my mother is from and so most people from her side of the family that live in America usually attend. This means it is treated as a kind of family reunion for a lot of people. The problem with having to go there on Thursday was my uncertainty with the procedure of me missing a day of work.
That day I spoke with my mentor about possibly working from home on Friday so as not to fall behind, however after some thought it was decided that I would instead make up the hours missed the following week. Later that night there was a General Assembly event that we had to attend as part of the QEM professional development. The event itself was very interesting. It was a talk from a career coach that boiled down to taking actions towards your future goals rather than just wishing for them.
Wednesday started very hard for me. For some reason I felt exhausted the whole day. While going through the day I attempted my first real visit to Dr. Sherrie Green’s office that day but unfortunately she was in a meeting with Dr. Toldson the president of QEM. She was also busy for the rest of the day so we decided to meet the next day. Lunch that day was the best of the week, partly because it was the only day I bought an actual lunch. However it was mainly because the Puerto Rican food truck was back in the area and I ate a giant sandwich called a Tripleta. After that the rest of the day was spent getting as much done as I could.
Thursday was my last day in the office that week and I was gonna spend the whole day in an interview workshop. The workshop itself was very good and interesting. The person running it had extensive experience as an interviewer herself and was able to tell us how she and her colleagues thought of the was people answered certain questions. It was very thorough from the preparatory phase to the actual interview. Unfortunately I missed a huge chunk in the middle of the workshop because of my meeting with Sherrie, however that meeting was very productive. This was the first time I had really talked to her one on one and what seemed like a quick 30 min meeting between us turned into a very interesting and informative hour and a half meeting. As a consequence of that meeting I am researching certain possible graduate school options that I didn’t know about before.
After work ended that day I rushed to grab my mostly packed bags from my apartment before meeting with my mother and sister in Baltimore. Unfortunately I stupidly got on the Marc train that goes to every stop so I was really late in getting to them, and to make matters worse I had to drive.  
Rather than describe my days at the Kom convention I am gonna put up these pictures from the cultural night we held during the convention. I believe these are the best way to represent my weekend.