Endorse My Excel Skills on LinkedIn, Please

Hey everyone! With three weeks of research under my belt, I’m about a third of the way through my summer here in Williamsburg! It all started with lab meetings my first couple days, and since then I’ve been establishing a schedule and work goals for each week. Things are going well!

Most of what I’IMG_0021ve been doing so far is plugging away at data. It’s data in its most raw form. My team of other research assistants and I have been working on entering results from baseline and follow up surveys from the mentoring study. Just as a refresher, my project is looking at youth outcomes and program effectiveness from the beginning of a mentoring program to the end—the course of one academic year. Baseline and follow up surveys are providing the means of measuring variables for both my own study and that of my faculty sponsor, Elizabeth Raposa, and her colleagues. It’s exciting to see it all come together!

But for it to all come together, it’s requiring some effort to clean up the data. It’s a matter of ensuring its accuracy and thoroughness for analyses later on. And that has led me to my first lesson of research:

It’s messy.

Data comes to you imperfectly—incomplete questionnaires, participants who leave the study, mentor pairings that shuffle around. My job these few weeks has been to identify the gaps like these in the data and troubleshoot. It’s been a project of tracing involvement throughout the course of the study foIMG_0055r all participants. It’s answering questions like did this pairing begin and end the same way with the same mentor and mentee? Did either leave the study early? Why haven’t we received that individual’s questionnaire? It’s a lot of scouring excel files from each stage of the process for answers (I think I’ve earned a LinkedIn endorsement!).

But we’re nearing the end of this data clean-up! We’re gathering information, putting it into SPSS and preparing it for analysis, which is very exciting! That’ll be the truly interesting part and when the answers to my questions can yield important insights.

The office I get to work in this summer is awesome! Although the ISC Starbucks doesn’t have summer hours, the ISC is an inspiring place to get stuff done—my room is close to the board of undergraduate research where tour groups usually stop. Every day I overhear tour guides explain how students at WM have the advantage of participating in research as undergraduates. I can’t help but smile and think, hey, I’m one of them! How lucky am I to be doing what I’m doing!

IMG_0061On a final note, when I’m not at work in the lab, I’m finding some fun summer stuff to do around the ‘burg! I’ve had the chance to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen since leaving for my semester abroad last winter, I’ve taken a couple day trips to soak up the sun at Jamestown Beach, and I’m training for a triathlon sprint! I even got to be there for the ground-breaking ceremony for the Integrative Wellness Center. It’s a great summer so far—can’t wait to update you the rest of the way!

Until next time,



  1. Sally Nelson says:

    Amazing what you have done thus far and once again, I am so proud of you and all that you do. Love, Bubbie