Linguistics Major Interns with Clinical Applications of Speech Acoustics Lab

Sara Cook, a senior with a double major in Linguistics and Communicative Sciences and Disorders, interned with the Clinical Applications of Speech Acoustics (CASA) Lab at Michigan State University, which is led by Thea Knowles, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. Cook recently shared her experiences with this internship in the following Q&A that originally was published by the Excel Network.

Head and shoulder photo of a woman with shoulder-length dark brown hair, silver hoop earrings and a smile.
Sara Cook

What were your internship roles and responsibilities?

As an undergrad intern with Clinical Applications of Speech Acoustics, I had a lot of different roles and responsibilities. These included things from getting and setting up furniture to obtaining and analyzing data from speakers and amplification devices

What did your daily routine include?

My daily routine included reading research papers and then going into the lab to apply what I had read.

What was your favorite experience from the internship?

My favorite experience was being a part of the Science Fest here at Michigan State. Since my lab is still up and coming, we don’t deal with a lot of in-person clients, so it was very rewarding to see not only children being interested in our field but also how those affected by Parkinson’s disease appreciate what we do.

What skills did you learn and/or build upon during your internship?

I learned quite a few things about the technological skills needed for my field, including programs such as Python.

What did you learn about the industry?

Research does not necessarily progress in a linear way. Beforehand, I thought one step was done then the next, when in reality, there is a lot of backtracking. Once we thought we had finished one step and moved on to the next, something would happen and we would have to go back and adjust the first step. Although I thought this initially would be very frustrating, I found that I enjoyed it as it taught me new ways to improve upon the work that we were doing.

What advice do you have for others seeking internship opportunities?

Put yourself out there. It may be scary at first, as you may think people will reject you, but if you don’t ask, then you are simply rejecting yourself. Even if you are not able to find an internship at an organization you want, there’s a good chance they will know of other opportunities you could have in the field.