Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interrogating the Interns

Subtitle: In many ways interns are like calculus students. In fact, some of them are.

One of my tasks this week has been to debrief the interns. School starts up again tomorrow, so they are likely to be somewhat scarce at work. Everyone is wondering what is it that they did. And so we are all hunting them down and making them tell their story of how they spent their summer vacation.

Intern #1: Impressively articulate. Clearly stated the scientific problem. Did a good job of explaining his work on the problem and how it fit in with what other people are doing. Set a very high bar for the remaining interns. During my initial intern-stalking (because they are hard to get in touch with), I had discovered that Intern #1 was taking the lowest-numbered technical courses of all the interns.

Intern #2: I thought that Intern #2 stood me up. Instead he was nearly three hours late.

Intern #3: The second intern that I talked to. Did not live up to the high standards set by Intern #1. Did a pretty good job of explaining the work, I think. However, there doesn't really seem to have been much work. (This is not entirely the fault of Intern #3). Intern-stalking also reveals that Intern #3 is Facebook-friends with The Topologist.

Intern #2: I suspect that this intern worked on the most "classical" problem of all three. Intern #2 worked with a bunch of physicists who seemed to pretty much know what they were doing. I think that a lot of science got done. No sense of the story behind any of it, though.

Odds are that I will have to follow-up with at least one of these sometimes-hard-to-find interns once the semester begins. As I still have access to the registration system for now (probably "intern stalking" is not an approved use of the system), I should at least have a decent chance of identifying places where they are supposed to be.