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The Q? Blog

My Three Years as a Science Intern with YES!

by Melissa -- Dec 23, 2014

My name is Melissa and I go to high school in Washington, D.C. In the past four quarters of school I have made the honor roll and received the privilege to...

YES! interns Melissa (left) and Tho prepare rodents in the mammal collection during Melissa’s first year in the program. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.
YES! interns Melissa (left) and Tho prepare rodents in the mammal collection during Melissa’s first year in the program. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.

At age 14, I was already skinning a small desert rodent and a panther at the National Museum of Natural History. I gave my first tour of the Museum's mammals collection to a group of college students, even though I was only in ninth grade. At 15, I was working on molecular biology with the Museum's Botany Department. At 16, I worked alongside Smithsonian scientists on a research project never done before: obtaining the entire genome of the marshelder plant. I have accomplished many things and I was able to do them all thanks to the Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) program.

I have been in the YES! internship program at the Museum for three years. I will never forget the things that I was able to do and see — things most teenagers, and even adults, never have the opportunity to do. Every year was different and taught me new things. I went on field trips to places I didn’t even know existed. I also got to meet people from all around the DMV (District-Maryland-Virginia) area, see where they come from, and hear their stories. Participating in the program has given me the clear knowledge that when I enter college, I want to major in a scientific field. The program awoke in me an enormous interest in science.

The YES! program also works to strengthen certain skills that you will need all of your life. When I entered the program in 2011, I was shy. When it came time to talk in front of people, I would stutter. But in my first year I did something called “public rotations,’’ which gave me the opportunity to talk to the public about different exhibits. The more I did public rotations, the more comfortable I became talking with Museum visitors. Today, I still get a little nervous, but not as before. I am confident when I speak in front of a large group of people.

I am thankful that I was able to do the YES! program for three years. If I had the chance to do it every year, I would happily accept. I recommend the YES! program to teens because it is a great opportunity to get involved in science!

Are you interested in the YES! internship program? Learn More.

Categories: YES! Teen Interns