Internship Diaries

How She Turned Her Volunteer Research Position into a Paid Internship

How do you turn your research position during the school year into your summer internship? University of Chicago student Jenna Reisler shares why she decided to keep working there during the year, and how she went about finding ways to get paid for her work over summer. As a triple major, she also shares her advice for balancing her classes and her job hunt, and how she thinks about both medicine and research in her future.

Name: Jenna Reisler

Job Title: Clinical Research Assistant at the University of Chicago Medicine

Location: Chicago, IL

College: University of Chicago

Year: Rising 4th year

Major: Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Biology

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What are you doing this summer?

I am a clinical research assistant and weekend manager for the research group the Hospitalist Project at the University of Chicago Medicine. My job involves interviewing patients in person throughout the hospital, such as in the ICU, emergency room, and other patients’ rooms, about their medical history, demographics, social network, financial situation, and oral health. Basically, I collect a lot of data from different patients to see if we can find ways to help improve their general health as well as the care they receive while at the hospital.

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a doctor. Although I am not sure which specialty I want to go to into, working at the hospital made me realize that I would like to integrate research and academia into my practice.

How did you get your internship?

I started to work for the Hospitalist Project during the fall of my second year of college after hearing about it from a friend who worked there at the time. This summer, I received a Jeff Metcalf Grant that I saw on Handshake, UChicago’s job search portal, to work there full time for 10 weeks.


What do you wish you had known during your internship search?

I wish I had known to begin my search sooner and to have attempted to find more paid backups. I found this posting on Handshake only a few days before the deadline to apply for the funding, and even though I would have been able to work here regardless, I almost didn’t get the paid internship.

What does a day in the life look like?

My hours change every week, so I don’t have a set schedule. For example, one week I work 8-4, the next I work 9-5, and the next is 12-8. We all alternate hours to make sure that someone is constantly there to interview patients at all times during the day. Regardless, I always get to work about 15 minutes early so I can get situated, talk to my boss, and plan the rest of my day out. Then I’ll walk around the hospital trying to interview patients for about 4 hours before taking either a lunch or dinner break at Sky Lobby (which has the best view in the entire building). Afterwards, I’ll go back out for another 3 hours and try to talk to more patients.

This job can be very difficult for me personally since I speak with many sick or injured people who are going through some of the hardest times of their lives. Even though I work individually, I can speak about my experiences when I return to the office and the other members of the project are always very supportive and understanding since they have had similar experiences as well.

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How has this job changed what you see yourself doing in the future?

Before working at the hospital, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a physician. Now, I have no doubts that this is the right career path for me. Having first hand experience in clinical research and seeing how it benefits patients at the University of Chicago, I have also realized that I would like to integrate research and academia into my medical practice to provide the most comprehensive level of care as possible to all different kinds of patients.

Hello! My name is Rosana Rabines! I'm a student, stationery enthusiast, and runner constantly reorganizing my life to make the most of my college experience in Chicago.

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