Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Summer at the Federal Reserve Bank

This summer, I have the privilege of interning at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in the Community Development Department. I’ve been able to learn about my strengths, my interests, my dislikes, and my deal breakers. Knowing what you truly want out of a career and what you can’t stand is the first step in looking for a job and as a rising senior, my time to figure that out is quickly coming to an end. I got concerned about my future, stumbled about to get my resume in order, submitted it to the Career Development Center, went to a job fair, gave my elevator speech, and now I’m interning at the Federal Reserve. Chance or destiny? I’ll leave that up to you to decide but here’s my detailed account of how I discovered these things and how this unforeseen internship is actually setting the tone for the rest of my working career.
On Day 1, as a part of the training and orientation that all employees at the Reserve go through, I  was told to complete the Clifton Strengths Finder test. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s a standardized test that asks you basic multiple choice questions, does a mysterious tally of your responses, and then spews out a magical list of your top 34 innate strengths. In case you’re wondering, my top 5 are Empathy, Relator, Connectedness, Individualization, and Strategic. Though skeptical at first, I was surprised at how accurate my strengths were and how well they described character traits that took me years to figure out. It made me feel as if I knew myself and I could be confident in the fact that a random computerized test came to the same conclusions about my strengths as I did. It also made me feel empowered-- that I could capitalize on my strengths because they were indeed mine; not strengths I strive for, but strengths I innately have.
As the internship progressed, I’ve also been able to affirm my interests. As I suspected, I am incredibly interested in development work and I’ve proven this to myself by spending countless hours watching Raj Chetty lectures on YouTube and then passionately convincing the other interns that educational reform is one of the most feasible ways of combating income inequality. As a matter of fact, I find development work so fascinating that the idea of being able to produce a heat map based on data that could be used as a development tool spurred me into rearrange my whole course schedule and sending a brisk email to the Geography department to try and do a last minute registration for a GIS course next semester. I’ll let you know how that goes…
As with all experiences, interning at the Fed this summer has also opened my eyes to the things I dislike. There’s something awfully numbing about spending 8 hours a day surrounded by cream colored cubicles and army green office chairs that suck the passion out of you if you’re not careful. Data sets with thousands of observations, missing data values, and trippy Excel sheets will do that to you too. For the most part, I’ve learned to cope but if there’s one thing working at the Federal Reserve has taught me is that flexibility, opportunity to build your human capital, and liking the people that you work with, when coupled with passion for your field, are the keys to having a fulfilling career. Now that I’ve seen what that’s like, I simply won’t settle for less and knowing what you’re not looking for is sometimes the key to finding your dream job.
When I got an internship at the Fed, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a ton of questions in my head: Would people be nice? Would I have to put on a tough guy facade? Would it be enjoyable? Would everyone be pretentious? Would I turn into a world class actor just to make it through the day? Would I do things that were meaningful? Would I discover high level corruption and then be sworn to secrecy? And the list goes on… While some of the questions are a bit farfetched, I can honestly say that working at the Fed has been one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had and I would definitely recommend it to any Macalester student (not just Economics majors) that values human capital development. I’ve been able to learn and grow and discover and those are 3 things that I’ve found to be invaluable. I’m not sure where my journey will go next but I do know that the things I’ve learned this summer have informed my perspective and I look forward to the next step.
By Jonathan van Arneman ’16

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#SummerOrangeCrew swings by Walker Art Center's Miniature Golf

The #SummerOrangeCrew headed over to the Uptown neighborhood in Minneapolis to the Walker Art Center and their artist-designed miniature golf. While strolling through the Sculpture Garden admiring the art, we enjoyed our dinner from nearby downtown Minneapolis. Once our tee time came around, we hit the greens for an exhilarating round of miniature golf. Each hole is designed by an artist with an aesthetic in mind and with their own unique twists. Some of our personal favorites included Hole 4, designed to mirror Minnesota’s summer night sky with various constellations (and obstacles!). Another favorite was Hole 8, which required all of the #SummerOrangeCrew to participate by using their feet as obstacles on the green.

Hole 8: Zane is up to putt, while facing the fearsome feet obstacles of his compatriots.

Hole 2: Ben takes Hole 2, meant to resemble a cemetery. Fortunately he didn’t have to confront any of the living dead while putting.

Zane (left) and Eloise (right) face off on Hole 5, which uniquely had two holes for two players. To make it more challenging, each player had to get the ball in the hole of their own color.
Hole 9 really had us “scratching” our heads as we turned our putters into pool cues. We each took turns putting our balls into the final hole as we ended our round of mini golf in good spirits

The Walker Art Center on the right with a view of Lyndale Ave., taken from a pedestrian bridge near the Sculpture Garden.
by Atticus Kleen ‘17 and Zane Vorhes-Gripp ‘17


Monday, August 3, 2015

My First Summer at Mac

My name is Paul Chery, I am a rising Sophomore from Nancy, France.  I plan to major in Physics and Computer Science. This summer I am doing Physics research at Mac.  My advisor is Professor James Doyle of the Physics department, whose area of research focuses on material science.  

The research I am currently undertaking deals with protein adsorption, which is just a fancy way of saying proteins sticking to a surface.  There are two parts to my research: a computational part, involving a computer simulation, and an experimental part.  I am developing a computer simulation in C++ to model protein adsorption onto a surface.

The experimental part of my research involves doing actual protein adsorption experiments on various substrates. The ultimate goal of this research is to perform protein adsorption experiments on thin films made of biomaterials, which are films created by my professor and other students that could potentially be used inside the body for various biomedical applications (e.g. coatings on drugs or prosthetics).  The data that we obtain will help us in identifying biomaterials which are suitable for the body, preventing adverse reactions with the body such as clotting.  The computer simulation will help us make predictions, test hypotheses, and better understand the physics of the experiments. The idea is to expose a surface to a protein solution and then examine the surface with the Atomic Force Microscope.  Since this project is new to us, we are learning together how to use the new Atomic Force Microscope (that Macalester acquired last fall) and how to perform these biological experiments. There is a lot that is unknown to us, but it is rewarding because there is so much to learn.

I really enjoy the multidisciplinary aspect of the project; physics, biology, chemistry, and computer science. We frequently speak to faculty and staff in other departments and it truly feels like we are part of a tight-knit community. During the past weeks I’ve also grown to know my professor more, an experience which I do not think happens often at big research universities.  

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in research as a first-year student.  I have learned a a great amount about what it means to do research - a lot of uncertainty, a lot of patience, but a lot of excitement as well.  I felt like I had a lot of responsibility and that I was trusted. This experience will hopefully open doors and help me with my future research endeavors at other institutions. This would not have been as easy at other universities.  I really enjoyed spending the summer at Macalester doing research and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods and the Twin Cities.

By Paul Chery '17
Nancy, France 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#SummerOrangeCrew Explores the Great Food on Grand Avenue

One of the perks of being a Macalester student is having access to a plethora of restaurants and cafes on Grand Avenue. There are so many options to choose from within just two blocks of campus. The #SummerOrangeCrew decided to have a picnic lunch with food from a variety of places nearby. This is not an exhaustive list but it will definitely give you an idea of what Grand Ave has to offer to you as Mac student.


Eloise and Zane sampling the options

I got lunch from the Saint Paul Cheese Shop, just a walk across the street on the corner of campus! I had the t-chut sandwich, which has brie, turkey, and cranberry chutney, and rose lemonade. The Cheese Shop is really cool because it has a huge variety of cheeses to choose from, as well as sandwiches and melts that you can buy for lunch or dinner. The t-chut is my personal favorite and (in my opinion) a classic! - Zane

I decided to get my lunch at The St. Paul Cheese Shop too. They also sell a variety of sandwiches and melts and even offer a student discount if you show your ID. I ordered a mozzarella and tomato melt and a bag of potato chips to go with it. It also comes with a shot of delicious tomato soup. The whole meal only cost me ten dollars and it’s easily my favorite lunch option within walking distance of campus! - Connor


Pad Thai is a Grand Avenue staple (as evidenced by the fact that three of us chose it for lunch). For me, ordering my meal is an exact science: chicken pad thai (no onions) with medium spice and a side of their peanut-y satay sauce. The dish also comes with a side of peanuts for texture, and a couple slices of lime for zing. SO good. Plus, the lunch special is a huge amount of food for a relatively low price. I was stuffed halfway through... so now I get a tasty lunch tomorrow, too! - Angela
Another ‘grand’ lunch meal (and deal!) along Grand Avenue: Pad Thai’s Pra Ram Rong Song, a dish of steamed spinach, broccoli, and carrots with traditional coconut and peanut sauce. I’m a big fan of their #513 (an ammmazing eggplant and tofu dish), so when I saw that it wasn’t on their lunch menu I was a little apprehensive… I’m pleased to say, however, that I’ve found another favorite thanks to our #SummerOrangeCrew picnic! - Mo

Thai cuisine has always held a special place in my heart, yet I somehow managed to go through three full years as a Mac student without ever eating at Pad Thai on Grand Avenue. WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?! The chicken green curry that I devoured during our picnic lunch was so good that I can’t believe it took me this long to enjoy the food that Pad Thai has to offer. I will definitely be going back many times over the next year to make up for all the spicy curries that I have neglected until now. - Ben


As a Chicago boy, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to pizza. Luckily the Italian Pie Shoppe, located mere steps from the corner of campus, does a whole lot of justice to my hometown favorite: deep dish! Today for the picnic I decided to go with their specialty spinach pizza, complete with fresh diced tomatoes, Italian sausage, and of course a lot of melted mozzarella beneath that thick layer of sauce. I always look forward immensely to my meals at the Pie Shoppe, knowing that each time I’ll come away satisfied after enjoying a little slice of back home. Pun absolutely intended. - Dan


The St. Paul Meat Shop is already a favorite spot for many Mac students to grab a bite to eat, so when word came out that the owner was going to be opening a Meat Shop just a block down Grand Ave., there was a lot of excitement around campus. This week I finally got the chance to try it out, and let me tell you, it lived up to my expectations. It was a tough decision but I chose to get the turkey club sandwich with tomato-bacon jam and greens, and it did not disappoint. Suddenly deciding where to go for a sandwich just got a lot harder! Also, you can show your Macalester Student ID at the Cheese Shop and the Meat Shop to receive $1 off your order! - Atticus


My lunch was from Shish, a Mediterranean restaurant that has tons of delicious vegetarian and vegan options. I got the Falafel burger, a house-made and tasty piece of falafel sandwiched between tomatoes, slices of avocado, aioli, and a toasted bun. It was the first meal I got at Grand Avenue my first year, and the same dish I’ve had on each of my birthdays as well. Yum yum yum yum yum! - Eloise

Learn more about the #SummerOrangeCrew's adventures.

Summer Research and Internhips in the Twin Cities

One of the many advantages of being at a Liberal Arts institution like Macalester is the exposure to opportunities that would be otherwise reserved for Graduate students. With guidance from the Career Development Center and the Science and Research Office many international students are able to obtain grants and fellowships for research outside of campus. Macalester’s location in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area opens up a broad range of opportunities for students to supplement their on-campus education with real-world learning experiences. Here are two examples.
My name is Akanksha and I am a rising Senior from Kolkata, India at Macalester College - I’m a Statistics/Neuroscience double-major and am passionate about all things that intersect those two fields- think Artificial Intelligence, working with big-data, neural/behavioral data analysis, and so on!

The summer after my sophomore year, I knew that I was interested in certain fields of study, but I had no idea about specific career choices that I needed to make. That was also when I started my summer research position as part of a student statistics consulting group of sorts, and we worked with several amazing Mac professors from the Math and Bio department. We were responsible for a host of things - including the revamping of a Mac lab-course! Not only did I have one of the most fun and enriching experiences, it also gave me a sense of direction of where I wanted to go next - I went ahead and declared a Stats major (quite late in the game) and continued to look for similar experiences.

That’s me outside my MDH office!
This led me to my current job as a data scientist at the Minnesota Department of Health - a job that I both adore and am enlightened by. As part of the Injury and Violence Prevention Unit, I conduct data analyses to observe and interpret health-related trends in MN. It’s an immersive experience and I am exposed to a deeper understanding of public health surveillance and epidemiological systems and how to use them fully to inform policy making decisions and raise public awareness. I have worked on a number of different projects including environment related deaths in MN (deaths due to heat, cold, flooding, etc). My more recent project includes an analysis on firework-related injuries and a data-brief that I did for the 4th of July.

One of my favorite aspects of the job is that my supervisor often gives me impromptu stats lessons in the middle of analysis meetings - the work environment has the perfect combination of corporate and academia vibes and it is immensely satisfying to work here!

I spend the rest of my time this summer  hanging out with my friends, running and doing yoga!

Me and my friends at Northern Spark (an
all-night art and light festival hosted in
Minneapolis annually).

That’s me and a friend enjoying some apple pie
at a U.S. Independence Day barbeque!

By Akanksha '15
Kolkata, India

My name is Aman Imani. I’m a rising senior at Macalester pursuing a double major in Biology and Chemistry. I am particularly interested in genomic engineering as a field of study and potential career path. However, like many of my Macalester classmates, I have other academic interests I am also interested in exploring. This summer I was able to obtain two internships is very different fields: science and business.

That’s me at my research lab at the University of Minnesota!

Genetics excited me ever since I took it in high school. I only narrowed down my interest to genomic engineering after taking Seminar in Genome Editing with Professor Mary Montgomery last Spring. While Macalester’s course-related laboratory component is a great introduction to the subject, independent laboratory research is indispensable. To this end, I got a position in the Schmidt-Dannert Lab at the University of Minnesota this summer. I started work in April so I could hit the ground running by the time summer came around. My supervisor, Chris Flynn, is a Ph.D. candidate and a wonderful mentor. Together, we are working on mushrooms that are agricultural crop pathogens. By modifying the protein profile of this mushroom, we hope to mitigate its toxicity and further its application in medicine. Chris provides the perfect balance between supervision and independent learning. I’ve learned a lot about laboratory techniques, critical thinking, troubleshooting and the process we call ‘research’ from him.                 

While my experience at the Schmidt-Dannert Lab continues to be very rewarding, I was also keen on getting a peek into corporate America. I applied for many internships and ultimately settled on working as an Analyst at R&D Systems (Minneapolis), a company specializing in manufacturing biological tools for research. My job involves reading a lot of scientific literature and creating a synopsis, of sorts, about how various products are being used. This internship dovetails with my passion for science since my work has exposed me to essential techniques in biology like cell culture and flow cytometry which I can apply to my research. This helps me do my job at the University of Minnesota better, too.

By Aman Imani 16
Mumbai, India