Week 1 – A relaxed start

Wills Building, Bristol, England

Meeting my supervisors

Heading into my first week of the internship I was both nervous and excited. Excited to at least have the opportunity to engage with the experts in the field and hopefully develop a good relationship with them. In my previous two years at university, I always felt that the academics were distant and not very approachable. This was largely to do with the fact that lectures were in large groups and made up the majority of my course. This was not conducive to much interaction between students and lecturers. On the other hand, I was nervous because I had doubts about how I would compare with my expert colleagues. Would I be able to hold a conversation with them? Would I find the terminology they use to be too confusing?

Fortunately, just like when I had my interview, Professor Benton’s jovial character was on hand to put me at ease. I met him at the Wills Memorial building at 9:00 am to go over some formalities. We then went to the Life sciences building where I was introduced to one of my supervisors Armin Elsler who was doing his postdoc. For the next few hours, Armin helped me log in and patiently gave a rough outline of the project by the end of which I had a much clearer understanding of what I had to do.

Walking in the woods (Image credit goes to New Acropolis London)

Afterwards, we had lunch together at a cafe nearby where we got to know each other. I asked him about how he decided he wanted to go into palaeontology and even some more personal questions about what his parents thought about his decision. Although my parents are and always have been very supportive of what I do, I knew they had reservations about me hoping to have a career in the life sciences – something which may not pay well.

Getting stuck into the literature

The rest of the week consisted of me getting used to the extensive literature on anomodonts which was kindly was provided to me by Armin. It was difficult to start because for the last three weeks I did little work and reading scientific literature can be quite dry. In addition to this, I was suffering from a terrible bout of hayfever which meant on the first day I left early after lunch and took the second day off.

To be honest, I did not help myself by going on a full day hike in Wendover at the end of the week with some friends. Nevertheless, being able to freely do work that I found interesting and end it with an outdoors adventure made the perfect start to the internship.