I actually had my first experience going into the field last week!  I went out and conducted a needs assessment for the organization I partnered with.  I honestly don’t know what I expected, as my previous experience with giving out surveys had generally revolved around collecting them online.  Doing surveys in-person was definitely not something in my comfort zone — but by the end of the day, I had a lot of fun and collected a lot of experience that I can use moving forward.

In terms of what I’m bringing with me, I think the lesson I am going to take away from that experience is to be prepared.  I know that not every situation can be anticipated, but by being prepared for *any* situation, you enable yourself to bounce back from it more easily.

I think that I am also realizing the power and privilege of being a graduate student affiliated with a well-known institution (however limited in capacity that may be).  It affords me with a certain… expertise (?) that other people do not have.  When people hear about you, and where you come from, it creates an image in their minds of who you are.  This can be both a positive and negative thing, depending on how they view academia or the UC Institution overall, but I think that regardless of the impression, the fact of the matter is that the impression is there.  It provides context, and to facilitate entree with certain communities and groups.  And ultimately, I find that invaluable, especially when working with populations that might not be comfortable with giving you information.

I think going out into the field this past week has been extremely fruitful, both on a personal and professional level.  It makes me optimistic for the work that I will be doing this summer, and I can say that my experiences so far have been unique.  I can only hope that they continue to be as fruitful far beyond the summer.