August 12, 2021

By Nala Washington ’24

Many River Hawks had a summer full of opportunities and possibilities as they completed their internships. Physics major Jocelyn McMahon ’22 was no exception, working as a research intern for the United States Department of Energy.

Jocelyn McMahon '22 Jocelyn McMahon '22This is a hybrid-turned-virtual internship; McMahon first found out about it through the Career Development Center.

“I met with the staff and they were able to guide me to a website of opportunities for students interested in astrophysics,” McMahon said. The internships at the U.S Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, caught her eye.

Astrophysics employs the methods and principles of physics to study astronomical objects and phenomena, from stars and galaxies to black holes.

“My assignment involves coding with Python and Jupyter (programming languages) to analyze tracks of energy in charge-coupled device sensors left by the subatomic particles passing through them,” she said.

McMahon said that at the beginning of her internship, she was afraid to make mistakes, but quickly changed her mindset.

“Internships are supposed to teach us, either about the subject, about our future careers or about ourselves,” she said. “My mentor said his goal for me was to ‘not hate science’ at the end of my internship, and I don’t think I will, but learning during an internship that something isn’t for you can be valuable, too.”

The internship satisfies McMahon’s interest in astrophysics and she hopes it will help direct her postgraduate plans.

“As I am undecided as to what my career will fully entail, having the opportunity to see what’s out there in my chosen field is extremely valuable,” she said. “This internship gives me the chance to explore one option and narrow my range of interests.”