2013 Summer Reflections: Katherine Stankus

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2013 Summer Reflections: Katherine Stankus

Building Connections Through Internships


by Katherine Stankus, 2013 Mather Public Policy Intern

Portland State University

John Mather, Stankus, SPS intern Nikki Sanford, and Rep. Bill Foster (left-to-right) stand on the steps of the  United States Capitol. Photo courtesy of Katherine Stankus.
My summer internship with the Society of Physics Students was a wonderful experience. As a Mather Public Policy Intern, I not only learned how science policy is conducted at the national level but also furthered my career interests.

Working with the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology allowed me to see firsthand how things are done on Capitol Hill. I conducted research for staff members, attended hearings and markups, and learned the importance of being an involved and informed citizen. In addition to my internship duties, I also had the opportunity to meet congressional representatives, go to receptions and luncheons held on the Hill, and spend time with influential people.

The diverse summer internships SPS provides help to demonstrate the different career paths a physics student can pursue besides academia and research. Participating students were also able to meet other physics students from across the country and live in Washington, DC, for the summer, which was exciting for me as a West Coaster. On the weekends, the other interns and I explored DC tourist attractions such as the Smithsonian museums and the monuments. We watched Fourth of July fireworks from the National Mall, went to a Washington Nationals baseball game, attended a classical music concert at the Kennedy Center, saw the band She and Him live, ate breakfast at the US House of Representatives dining room with Rep. Bill Foster and Physics Nobel laureate John Mather, met Bill Nye, and toured the city on Segways.

Having graduated, I now plan to work for a couple of years in my field. I have returned to the Pacific Northwest and begun to apply for jobs related to my interests in environmental issues such as atmospheric science, climate change, clean energy technologies, and science policy. My internship helped to solidify my desire to find a career that will contribute to finding solutions to global environmental problems.

I met so many wonderful people this summer and had so many great experiences. I encourage all undergraduate physics students to apply for the Society of Physics Students summer internship program. //

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