June 23, 2021
TRiNDS Internship Program
The TRiNDS Internship program offers paid internships in Clinical Operations and Data Management to graduate students. Our past interns have gone on to grow their careers as researchers and clinicians. We sat down with Carolyn Maxwell, Clinical Research Intern, and Abby Loden, TRiNDS Data Manager to learn more. Abby lives in the Washington DC area and recently completed the program. Carolyn lives in Pittsburgh and is just starting the program while she works towards her Master’s in Genetic Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh.
How did you hear about the program? Why did you decide to apply?
Abby: I heard about it through my teaching assistant (TA) for my statistical programming class at George Washington University. She was also a data manager at TRiNDS at the time and posted the opportunity our class board. After taking the statistical programming course, I wanted to find a way to apply my skills in a real-world setting. I’d worked as a coordinator for oncology research before, and I knew I wanted to work in research after graduate school. The idea of working at a CRO was new – I’d only ever worked at academic institutions before TRiNDS. It seemed interesting, so I applied.
Carolyn: I received the announcement from my program director. I wanted to get experience in a wide variety of fields. I think that variety will make me a better genetic counselor. My goal is to become a genetic counselor, though I might also pursue research once I get more experience in the clinic. I’m really interested in the idea of taking a step back from the clinical picture and looking at why something is happening. I thought the opportunity sounded great.
How does the program fit in with school? What are typical tasks for TRiNDS interns?
Abby: Before I joined the internship program, I had been working full time and going to school full time. I knew I needed more flexibility than that. The internship program was great– everyone was as flexible as they could be with me. I generally took afternoon and evening classes and worked in the mornings. If I needed extra time for class or tests, everyone was really great. I worked from home and met in person (pre-COVID) with the other data managers in the DC area. Data management interns perform quality checks on documents, build test scripts to confirm that the systems are working as expected, and build case report forms. I helped build case report forms (CRFs) for a new study and drafted and finalized standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Carolyn: My courses haven’t started yet, so I don’t know all the details yet. I set my own schedule, and I work from home. I meet with the team once a week in person at the TRiNDS offices. My role is to assist the clinical operations team. I do a little bit of everything – I do some invoicing, data entry, and cleaning up datasets. I’ll be assigned larger projects in the future too.
What would you want people to know about applying to the program?
Abby: The team is really great to work with – everyone is super helpful and very invested in your learning. Everyone made sure that I was involved in the full picture. It’s a small contract research organization (CRO), so you can dip your toe into a lot of things and get experience in a lot of different areas. The experience was really great for me and led me into a full-time job.
Carolyn: The team has been welcoming and ready to teach me along the way of my training process. If you’re looking to learn, this is the place to be. On top of that, everyone has been very understanding with schedule changes. If you’re worried that it’s not exactly your area – you never know what you’ll fall in love with. There’s an opportunity for me to stay if I want to at the end of my master’s program.