Before I applied for an internship with AcuBiz Consulting, there was a great degree of uncertainty as to what I could both offer to the internship and what I could learn as an economics/business-based student entering a field that was primarily dominated by biotechnology/science students.
Would the skills I learned of analysis and problem-solving in the university be applicable? Would I be able to learn about the world of biotechnology and healthcare economics in the brief month that I had?
Questions like these and many others occupied my thoughts in the days leading up to the internship.
The daunting thoughts of the internship soon faded after submitting my application. I was able to meet with Dr. Syamala in person to have a one to one interview. What I perceived to be a large and near impossible task at hand soon vanished after my brief interview with her.
Dr. Syamala was able to offer her time to set the scope of the project ahead with great clarity, providing a vivid structure of what the top-down analysis of the next generation sequencing market (NGS) would look like. On my first sit-down with her, she was able to provide thought-provoking anecdotes and analogies to set the psychological tone that she was expecting of her summer interns.
She shared such stories of the “Warrior Reflex” to help me conceptualize the idea that any skill, when honed and sharpened to a great degree will soon turn into an effortless reflex (much like how a warrior would block an oncoming attack).
Another example would be when tackling the mentally stressful task of primary research, Dr. Syamala was able to offer the idea of “Ant theory”, in which no matter how many obstacles are set in the way of an ant, it will still find a trail (no matter how unlikely) to its desired destination.
Anecdotes, Ideas and grand philosophies that I was able to absorb held a great deal of importance in the weeks ahead as during moments of doubt, I was able to fall back on these robust ideas to allow myself to grow both as an intern and as a person.
Although my internship was only 1/3 of what a normal intern would experience (1 month), after the interview and initial sit down, there followed an intensive and mentally stimulating 3 days of mentorship. Though it was clear that I had to learn at an accelerated rate, there was little to no doubt in my mind that with the right mentality and guidance, I would be able to achieve it.
I was able to delve into the world of NGS with a high degree of freedom with brief outlines set by Dr. Syamala. It was a liberating process and allowed me to challenge myself to understand a completely novel and new domain in the brief time that I had.
I found that I was able to simultaneously learn invaluable lessons and gain insights not only when it came to the technical domain knowledge of the NGS industry but about what was required of a professional in any field, regardless of the profession. I discovered that my analytical skills attained in university were highly robust and could be applied but I had to first believe.
I saw first-hand that you get out what you put in, that you must first believe in your own innate abilities and the ability to learn new skills and not let the fear of the unknown paralyze you to get anywhere in life. The internship allowed me to gain profound insights of myself as a person and flushed out any negative habits and mentalities that I had adopted up to that point. It allowed me to pivot to a brighter path ahead and steered me clear of any potential detriment that may have followed. For this, I will be forever grateful for the experience of self-discovery and learning.
These profound insights did not come without challenges. As it has become apparent, much like you will hear thunder without first seeing lightning, when you experience growth it is expected to garner a certain degree of discomfort. It took a while for me to understand and accept the discomfort and recognize it to be growth. Like with any skill, there is a time required for skill acquisition.
Once the foundation was set, I found myself approaching the highly technical and scientific field of next-generation sequencing with relative ease and a degree of confidence. With a few successful phone exchanges, the primary research phase was coming to an end. I decided to make a visit to Cancer Research Malaysia for one last shot at primary research to give my best shot at adding value to the report.
When visiting, I was able to dive slightly deeper into the world of life science and biotechnology, seeing how technological advancements does not necessarily translate to slimmer smartphones or faster processors, but rather contributing to the betterment of the human populous.
I spoke to passionate scientists who were able to give me great insights into NGS, and when describing their work; their eyes lit with a bright passionate flame. It became apparent that they were not only wanting to help prevent and defeat cancer but were also immensely fulfilled and proud of the work they were doing. I made a mental note to myself to seek similar elements in my future career path whatever it may be in.
In conclusion, the invaluable lessons learned over the month-long summer internship would not have been possible with any other firm and with any other mentor figure. The smaller size of AcuBiz offers a homely warmth that large corporations lack, with the one-to-one guidance offered by Dr. Syamala, makes the internship like no other.