Reflection on my internship experience at HCD

With my internship coming to an end this week, I cannot help but wonder why the past two months flew by so fast. It feels like just yesterday I met with Michelle Niedziela, VP of Research and Innovation of HCD Research, during my marketing graduate course at UPenn last fall. I remember being fascinated with Dr. Niedziela’s talk and the work that she does at HCD. I reached out that same day asking if I would be able to intern at HCD during the summer. Dr. Niedziela got back to me the next day, offering me the internship. I felt a rush of emotions from being anxious to excited, making the seven months before the start of my internship seem like years. I was certain the summer with HCD had a lot in store for me.

The work that I completed during my internship varied day-to-day, making the experience both interesting and exciting. During the first week, I attended HCD’s NeuroU conference where I had the chance to listen to and interact with well-versed guest speakers about the future of neuroscience and its integration into modern consumer research methods. The highlight of the conference was my realization of how a similar concept can be used so differently in academia and in industry. Check out my blog on the HCD website where I reflected on my NeuroU conference experience! Speaking of blog posts, during my short time at HCD, I was provided the opportunity to write four blogs on different topics that I personally found intriguing. I also helped review articles and papers for different journals. However, my favorite project was the internal study using implicit association testing that I was responsible for designing and implementing. I was in charge of this project from brainstorming the research topic all the way to writing the survey questions, and I cannot be more excited that the survey is being programmed and should be ready to be run soon. These projects and work products would not have been possible without the support and trust of my supervisor, Dr. Niedziela, and everyone else at HCD. I cannot thank the HCD team enough for giving me so many opportunities and always ensuring that the tasks and projects match my personal and professional interests. I honestly did not expect to accomplish so much at an internship in such a short amount of time.

Reflecting on my experience at HCD and what I was able to complete this summer, I think this opportunity could benefit people who:

  • Have an interest in research. I love doing research, but I am not interested in pursuing a PhD-type-of-research environment. I cannot see myself committing to a research project for such an extended period of time. Therefore, this position at HCD was perfect for me because I was able to work on a variety of research topics, depending on the project and the task. This summer, I was able to research information on topics such as the lodging industry, the implicit association test, the effectiveness of video advertisements, and the use of virtual reality in market research, just to name a few.
  • Have a background in neuroscience/psychology and want an industry exposure/experience. As someone coming straight out of undergraduate into graduate school, I was excited for this internship to provide some industry exposure and to see if this industry is the right fit for me. I would encourage anyone with a strictly academic background, especially in neuroscience or psychology, to try a similar opportunity to see how to apply their expertise in the real world.  
  • Are in market research and interested in the application of neuroscience and other cutting-edge technologies. With the advances of technology nowadays, more and more market research companies are trying to incorporate neuroscience and technology into their traditional research. This opportunity would be a good fit for those who are interested to learn more about the ways to do so.
  • Want to work in a small-business environment. I remember during one of my first days at HCD, I met with Glenn Kessler, CEO of HCD Research. There was one thing he said that sticks with me until this day, “The only reason small businesses exist is for innovation.” It reminded me of why I wanted to pursue behavioral science in the first place. I will take this piece of advice with me wherever I am going next to remind myself to always strive for creativity and innovation.

Ten years from today, I probably will not remember everything I did at HCD, but I sure will remember that this internship is where I confirmed my interest in pursuing research as well as my passion for applying science and technology in meaningful ways. I am so thankful to begin my professional career with the foundational knowledge I gained from interning at HCD Research. I am now confident in my abilities as a researcher to never stop seeking out innovation in my future work.