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My internship with SASHLab

Where do I start, and how can I describe the wonderful time I’ve had during my internship? Hopefully this short blog will do it justice. Firstly, I am very grateful to everyone in the department who made me feel so welcome and who went above and beyond for me from the first day I started. I especially want to thank my supervisor Siobhan Griffin, for always going out of her way to find me the best opportunities that opened me up to valuable experiences and knowledge. I cannot thank her enough for being such an amazing supervisor. I was extremely lucky to gain such a wealth of experience in a short space of time. Of course, I was very disappointed my lab experience and data collection came to a premature end due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but working from home proved a positive experience as I gained other important skills.

Among all the experiences I gained, I learned so much managing the Psychophysiology lab and working with a group of masters students, whom were completing their study. I was responsible for scheduling participants, preparing lab materials, completing data collection, giving participants course credit for participation, and inputting data into SPSS (to name a few). As part of this role, I was trained in the use of a Finometer PRO; this is a hemodynamic blood pressure monitoring machine. I feel this real-life data collection experience will stand to me in the future. As the study needed a large sample size, I became a researcher along with the master students, and carried out data collection with participants in the lab daily. This was a big deal for me and something I was very nervous about in the beginning. I instantly enjoyed it though and appreciate the fact that I am one of a few in my year that has had this experience so early on in my career.

I was a member of the Departmental Athena Swan committee, and acted as an undergraduate representative in writing our Bronze application. I also attended fortnightly SASH lab meetings and got an insight into several PHD studies and upcoming conferences. Myself and the other co-op students, whom I made great friendships with, were involved in the setting up of graduation day at the end of January. Siobhan generously invited me to work on a systematic review with her, which we registered on the Open Science Framework (OSF). This was very new to me and kept me busy learning throughout my time in UL but also while working from home due to the college closure. Along with some other students, we also set up a CREP study which is ongoing (and also registered on the OSF). CREP (Collaborative Replications and Education Project) is a multi-laboratory project which aims to replicate key studies in Psychology; labs select a project and collect the data for it, this data then is used in a multi-lab paper. This is very exciting and a different form of research compared to the psychophysiological lab work I was doing. This experience has certainly made me more aware of the importance of Open Science and the need for pre-registration, and replication. It also allowed me to become familiar with using Qualtrics and setting up surveys. I want to thank Prof Orla Muldoon for being so kind as to ask me and the other co-op girls to carry out a small amount of research for her Trauma and PTSD study.

It has been inspirational working with such highly qualified and educated people. I will always remember this precious time and be so thankful I was given this opportunity. It has given me such a valuable insight into possible career choices and further study paths in the future. My confidence has grown since starting. I cannot recommend choosing to do your co-op with SASH Lab enough. I would go for that initial interview again in a heartbeat.

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