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Jose found himself immersed in scientific studies and research just two years ago after signing on with the California Academy of Sciences as a paid intern in its Careers in Science (CiS) internship program. CiS is a multiyear, year-round work-based youth development program for young people from groups typically underrepresented in the sciences.
In the interview below, Jose discusses his experience as a CiS intern and how his experience in the program developed his skills as a young scientist and confident speaker—and ultimately to the distinction of presenting at the American Geophysical Union conference and, more recently, at the Citizen Science Conference in San Jose.
How long been with program and time commitment?
I’ve been part of the internship for almost two years now. I have a time commitment: during the school year this depends on the different ranks you’re in—level 1 being most basic and level 4 being highest. Right now, I’m in a level 2 and I work between 8-12 hours a week.
During weekdays over the summer, I would be on the public floor [at California Academy of Sciences] engaging with guests. There are different stations, known as “Demonstration Stations,” for example Extinct Mammals. I would need to be able to respond to guests’ questions and give background information on the exhibit.
What are your thoughts on the program?
I really enjoy working at the Academy of Sciences. Going into the program and being able to do different presentations, I was able to understand not just what science is about, but public speaking, how to be a leader, how to be professional… overall it really helped develop who I am today.
What sciences are you taking at International High School?
I’m currently in Higher Level Biology.
Do you have an example of how you related your work in CiS with what you learned in Higher Level Biology?
There used to be a Creation Station called “DNA.” It was an interactive station. We would perform the procedure of extracting DNA from strawberries in front of [museum] guests.
Are you curious about science in the future?
I definitely see science as a potential career opportunity. I am really into biology and I am thinking along the lines of biotech design.
Would you recommend the program to other students?
I would really recommend this to another student—it’s an eye opening experience. I’ve never talked in front of a large crowd before and once I leveled up from level one to level two, I was able to participate in a conference that had over 24,000 participants. I was giving non-stop presentations to people walking up and down the aisles and I really had to step outside my comfort zone to be able to talk to different people. I feel like having such an eye-opening experience for me, I also want other people to experience it. I really do suggest partaking in the program.
What was this conference you mentioned and what did you present?
Back in December of 2014, I took part in the American Geo Physical Union Conference which had over 24,000 participants. I [was invited because I] did a research poster on sand crabs—they are little crabs in the sand at Ocean Beach with parasites in them. I wanted to see if there was any correlation with the parasites inside the sand crabs… so I presented my research at the [Geo Physical Union] conference and I was then invited to go to the [the Citizen Science] Conference in San Jose. There, I [talked about] my experience as a youth going through the [scientific] process and presented my poster.
Two of Jose’s mentors, his CiS boss and a PhD candidate studying youth interactions in the science field, also presented their experiences working alongside Jose at the Citizen Science Conference in San Jose.