Week 8: Never a Quiet Day

In my experience, there has always a period midway in an internship phase where my motivation is stifled by the imprecise direction of my work. I question the quality of my work and whether I am providing benefit for the company through my internship. This ultimately stems from a sense of personal motivation – am I truly taking advantage of every opportunity and minute that I am there? The answer was probably not. Looking back at previous positions, I would argue that I was not confident enough to clarify my goals, and that often led to this period of time where I would aimlessly search for solutions to no avail. I could cast out lines in all directions, but if I have no idea of what I am looking for, I would just reel back an empty hook. It was frustrating, needless to say, and it built a feeling of uncertainty in internships since I never understood the impact of what I was doing.

Fortunately, Boston Scientific is different.

There are certain factors that have contributed to my motivation and success at Boston Scientific thus far. This past week, I had the chance to work all week alongside my coworkers in the neuromodulation team, where I learned something important, and this leads to my first point: teamwork is so much more than just working in a team. It is a culture. When people get to work, they go around and greet everyone in the team individually. When it is time for lunch, we all sit together and just talk (as long as it is nothing work-related). When we need a break, we gather together and play a game to ease the stress. It is something I have come to appreciate at Boston Scientific in Costa Rica. With our ability to see each other as friends rather than just coworkers, it has helped me (and conversely everyone else) work harder and more effectively than in other experiences.

A little crowded, but we make do (for the good of the game)

This leads to my second point, where as a part of a team (not just as an intern), everyone is a resource. Something that has always been emphasized to me, but never enforced, is the effect of asking questions. We were never meant to know everything (I admit it…), but we can always ask the experts in that field to get the answers we need. It has been especially helpful for me in this internship to seek out help. Don’t know how to program a simulation in Labview? Ask Arturo. Don’t know how to use 3D printing software to print a test platform? Ask Alejandro. Need some clarification with the battery model in MATLAB? Ask Thomas. In effect, everyone is willing to share their knowledge if you are willing to learn, and it has benefited me in more ways than one. This has not only allowed me to effectively complete my tasks in a shorter amount of time, but it has also taught me more than I would have through any video or website.

Experimental setup that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of several neuromodulation people

However, remember in a previous blog where I mentioned that “plans never work, but planning always does?” Same thing goes for internships. On the second week of my internship, I created a timeline and a set of goals with my supervisor EO with how I would approach the remainder of my short time at Boston Scientific. I was excited – it seemed like there was more than enough work to do, but as I quickly realized, set your goals and be ready to adjust. This has particularly been relevant with one of my projects with creating a battery model, where I thought I could be done by this week. However, with each new compounding variable, the model needs a whole reworking that has taken much more time than I originally thought. Given that, I have been realistic with myself and have continued to work at it, knowing that this may not be done in the timeline I originally set. Especially with new projects arising every day, I need to be able to manage my time at work to address all my tasks. Similarly, I need to be able to prioritize which projects need the most attention, and adjust accordingly to reach my goals by the end of this internship.

One way that has been helpful with identifying which projects to prioritize is documentation. Not only has it been helpful to fill in time during the down hours when I am stuck on a project, but it also provides a document that shows my thought process, my goals, and my deliverables. Whether it is explaining my variable choices in MATLAB, or explaining my thought process from a brainstorming session, each thing I have written down will benefit Boston Scientific in some way in the future if they continue the work I have left for them. So if I were to cap off what I have learned this past week, it is that documenting the work is not just helpful, it is essential. Without it, my work may as well be the dead end of a project that I have previously thought it out to be. With documentation, my work can lay the groundwork for a future innovation.

On another note, we were in Arenal this past weekend [refer to cool panoramic photo above], which is why I am a little late on posting this blog. However, there will be a video about it in next week’s blog!

Just a man and his pita chips

I mentioned last week that we went to a dog sanctuary; check the video for that out here!

Until next week, pura vida mis amigos.

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