Santiago Internship Stories: Why is a Political Science Major Researching Nutrition?

August 27, 2020

Columbia College rising junior Andrea Akinola, majoring in Political Science and concentrating in Education Studies, is interning with Teresa Correa Reymond and the rest of her research team at Chile’s Universidad Diego Portales. Correa is an associate professor and research director of The Center of Investigation on Social Communication, Literature, and Observation (CICLOS) in the School of Communication. Akinola is passionate about social justice, hoping to devote her career to helping create systemic change for marginalized groups. In her free time, she loves going to the beach, weightlifting, and baking.

Q: What do you do at your internship?

A: These past months, I have been creating a spreadsheet compiling research papers related to obesity and nutrition policy. The focus is on how different stakeholders, such as the food industry, government, and media have framed these policies. Now that I have finished compiling around 50 research papers, I am drafting a literature review that explains and analyzes what I've found.

Q: What have you learned?

A: I have really fine-tuned my research skills through this internship and now I have the opportunity to write a literature review, which is new terrain for me. I would like to become a lawyer, so this experience is really helping me build fundamental research and writing skills that will continue to help me throughout my professional career.

Q: Why did you pick this internship and location?

A: I am very interested in public health and nutrition, so the topic was really engaging. I also was excited to work with the team in Chile because I've studied Spanish for the past seven years and I have developed a deep appreciation for Latin American culture.

Q: How is a virtual internship different from a traditional one?

A: In past internships, I would go into an office every day and interact with my supervisor and coworkers. As a virtual intern, you don't have the same structure. In this experience, I have Zoom meetings with my supervisor every couple of weeks, but for the majority of the time, I'm working on my own. It's great because I get to set my own hours and have a flexible schedule.

Q: Do you have any tips for virtual interns?

A: Set a work schedule and stick to it. Also, don't be afraid to reach out to your supervisor whenever you have questions.

Q: What three things would you bring to a deserted island?

A: Three of my friends! We'd make it a vacation!

Q: What media have you been consuming during quarantine?

A: In quarantine I've finally had time to catch up on TV and movies! I watched Insecure, The Twilight series, Hamilton, and Love Island. I also read Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis and got to listen to more episodes of Code Switch by NPR which is one of my favorite podcasts. I can't pick a favorite artist of all time, but I'm really enjoying listening to Umi at the moment.

Q: What is your favorite place in NYC? What do you miss?

A: The Brooklyn Bridge! I'm definitely missing Dig Inn and the energy of the city.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: The internship I originally had fell through because of the pandemic. It was a struggle to find additional opportunities at the last minute. I'm so grateful that Columbia Global Centers was able to help match me with this opportunity.