Sarah Ryan-Purcell - Bioinformatics Pathway - Self-Assessment

Why I joined the Bioinformatics Pathway:
I was delighted to take on the role of Project Manager in the Bioinformatics Pathway as it afforded me the opportunity to build on my leadership experience from the June session - further developing my management and organisational skills - while simultaneously learn more about the field of Bioinformatics from the interns’ work.

Tasks completed:

In preparation:

  • Organised 1-1 meetings with BI Leads from the June session to gather feedback and advice
  • Created a Lead Guidance document with recommendations for July Leads based on my conversations with June Leads
  • Created a document detailing Lead Roles to help incoming Leads to choose a position that best suited them
  • Compiled Icebreaker Questions which I used at the beginning/end of every meeting as a team-building activity to encourage engagement and communication among team members.

During the BI internship:

  • Scheduled regular team meetings for BI Teams 1&3
  • Created agendas and meeting notes for BI Teams 1&3
  • Prepared, scheduled and co-hosted informational webinars for all interns in the BI Pathway
  • Lead team discussions on the importance of networking
  • Facilitated communication between Leads and mentors with bi-weekly meetings
  • Scheduled, hosted and created agendas for weekly Lead meetings
  • Attended weekly Pathway Leads meetings with Isha and conveyed the information discussed to Leads in the BI Pathway
  • Coordinated our final presentation sessions with Observers, Participants, Leads and Mentors.
  • Created topics regularly and issued various reminders in the BI-Summer2020 category and in team categories to ensure the smooth running of the internship
  • Facilitated feedback discussions among Leads and mentors and created a BI Lead/Mentor Feedback document.

The biggest challenge I faced during the internship:

  • Scheduling final presentation sessions so that there was a minimum of one Lead and one mentor at every intern’s presentation. This was particularly challenging as both interns and mentors span over a range of time zones across the globe. Some mentors had limited availability and many interns had school commitments for large portions of the day.

How this challenge was overcome:

  • I scheduled two presentation rooms to take place simultaneously via Google Meet, with two sessions in each room.
  • Interns who were unable to present on Friday August 21st presented instead at a catch-up presentation session on Wednesday August 26th.

Another challenge I faced was responding to queries from mentors, Leads, Participants and Observers. These queries required problem-solving and spanned a range of topics from meeting schedules to concerns regarding deliverables to communication difficulties and inactive participants.

Further reflections:
This was an invaluable and unique leadership and project management experience.
I was managing interns up to twenty years older than myself and not once did I feel inferior or judged based on my age.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with prospective Leads of future sessions and to using such experiences to further contribute to the STEM-Away community through mentorship and advanced program management.