A Berger Cram Session

By Adrienne Johnson ’16

Some of our best teamwork occurs when our research team meets up for a 3-hour meeting and has a “cram session.” During these meetings, which happen every couple of months, we discuss and develop all of the various projects we’ve been working on since the last meeting. These meetings start with catching up while munching on bagels and soup from Panera, but by the end they usually end up being our most productive meetings because our whole team is together, including Professor Kanaya.

At our last Berger cram session, which concluded the fall 2015 semester for our research team, we reviewed our accomplishments from the semester, such as our successful submissions to the Long Beach WPA Conference, as well as our future goals, such as launching blog posts like this one. We knew we wanted to convey to readers the variety of experiences we’ve had as research assistants at the Berger Institute, but none of us were experienced bloggers at the time. Luckily, our program coordinator Gabi Grannis was able to join us and offer her insights. The team spent the meeting sharing our various Berger experiences and throwing around ideas about how to best convey them to readers. We left for winter break feeling accomplished and ready to move forward for our spring semester Berger projects!

An FWI Summer

By Tyler West ’16

For 19 years, Boston treated me well: I was educated, strong-minded, and gritty like the city that raised me. But during my final year of high school, I knew I wanted to experience a larger life. My college search led me to CMC, as two things about the place immediately sparked my interests: there was a communal emphasis on the outdoors and adventure, and the resources available for students were second-to-none. During my sophomore year, I applied to be a research assistant at the Berger Institute, as I was curious about research work and wanted to take advantage of one of the eleven research institutes on campus. I got the Berger job, and was almost simultaneously accepted into CMC’s Sponsored Internship program, which took me to Phuket, Thailand for twelve weeks to teach English. Thanks to CMC, doors were opening.

A year into my role as a research assistant at Berger, I applied for a summer internship at the Families and Work Institute in New York City. For the past five or so years, the Berger Institute has had a relationship with FWI, and that year, they were looking for a student with research experience and a passion for video production. I was enrolled at the time in a video art class learning how to work a studio video camera and how to produce videos with software like Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut. I remember turning to my girlfriend, a NYC-lower-east-side-native, and stating, “This position was made for me.”

When you grow up in Boston, NYC is always “the other guy.” But as soon as I stepped off the Lucky Star Bus at Union Station, I was hooked. There was style everywhere: lampposts, sidewalks, store fronts, clothing, and billboards were covered with forms of expression like hyper-patchwork. There was so much to analyze. The city’s charm was apparent.

On my first day in the office, Eve and Anne, two FWI employees, took Sarah, a Barnard student intern, and me out to lunch to one of their favorite spots near the new FWI office on 28th Street and 5th Avenue. Eve told me that the main project I would be working on was a video compilation for their annual Gala event, where company sponsors and supporters of FWI come to hear about the institute’s work. Fortunately for me, Eve said they had zero direction for where they wanted to take the video, so I pounced, and they trusted me: they were going to allow me to be hands-on and autonomous.

With Sarah conducting the interviews, I set up the shooting angles and manned the camera, furthering my knowledge of lighting, scene design, and the interview process. In total, we interviewed three FWI employees, one of which was Ellen Galinsky, the founder of FWI. In New York City, it’s not uncommon to see a camera crew positioned on a street corner or at Washington Park. Suddenly, I was the man behind the lens, behind the scene making it all happen. And I got to do it all exactly as I pleased.

On my last day at FWI, I showed Jennie, resident video expert at FWI, my final cut of the Gala video. She asked me where I found the figures that I used and how I executed animation in Final Cut. I told her the truth: “I created the figures in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and taught myself how to simulate animation.” She laughed. “You’re better than me at this. You should consider working with us after school.”

I gave her words deep thought after I left the FWI offices that day, but I’m very glad to say that I have accepted a position with Teach for American in New Orleans, and I’m waiting to hear back from the Fulbright Fellowship, which would send me back to Thailand for ten month to teach English as a Second Language to the youth there.


Women in the World of High Tech

The numbers, apparently, don’t lie: according to the Labor Department’s latest race and gender data on the top ten tech firms, roughly 83% of tech jobs are held by men. Lucky for us, then, that we were able to be in the presence of four very successful women, all CMC alums, currently working at high tech jobs in Silicon Valley. They came to the Ath as part of the CIE’s “Entrepreneurship Week,” and were the first in a series of events taking place at CMC this week.

Candace Adelberg ’10 works as part of Google’s Counter-Abuse Technology team; Kristie Howard ’15 is a software engineer at Docker, Inc., a San Francisco startup that makes building and shipping applications; Mayumi Matsuno ’01 is Director of Product at Electric Imp, a cloud service and hardware solution that facilitates connecting devices to the Internet; and Jacinth Sohi ’11, is a Product Support Manager at Uber, specializing in scaling the infrastructure and launching support operations for new products like UberEATS and UberPOOL.

Though each of these women graduated at the top of their class, they came to their careers in different ways. Howard, for example, received her BA in Computer Science, and felt that taking coding courses in college was extremely helpful. Adelberg, however, is adamant about the fact that the solid foundation you get from a liberal arts education is important: “You can always learn the tech stuff later.”

Among their kernels of wisdom: take advantage of CMC and form relationships with your professors. Get experience working at one of the college’s many institutes (like Berger!). Form a support group of like-minded women who can help you navigate the many challenges faced in the competitive and male-dominated culture of Silicon Valley after you’ve come to terms with the fact that “it’s going to be hard, but you won’t fail,” said Howard. Matsuno says that success in any field ultimately depends on being passionate about your work. “If you’re passionate, you will be successful.”

The lunch ended with a plea for more women to join their ranks, and to understand that we all struggle with balance, and that priorities can change. It’s important to be supportive of the choices women everywhere make to be able to achieve their own version of work/life balance.

CMC is for Life

by LillyBelle Deer ’15

Last year, I worked at the Berger Institute with the Work-Life team. Then, I graduated.

When I thought about my post-­graduation plans, the ideal involved being a part of a research lab so that I could get experience for graduate school. I also wanted to be near Southern California so that I could be close to my brother, who is a sophomore at CMC. I told Professor Kanaya about my plans and she offered to hire me in the coming year to keep on top of the Work-Life project we had been working on together. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up: I would be able to gain more research experience while working with people I like, researching a topic I enjoy, and staying in Claremont.

Working at Berger post­-graduation has been a great experience. I’ve learned so much about how things really work in academia, and this has strengthened my passion for pursuing it. I’ve learned a lot about how research labs such as ours function, which makes me feel more prepared for graduate school.

One of the best part of my experience in my extra year with Berger has been developing a closer relationship with Professor Kanaya. She has been a resource for me this year for everything from grad school applications to life advice in general. I don’t think I would be where I am in my career path without her.

Throughout my time at CMC, I heard many times about how CMC is for life. Nothing has driven home this notion more than working for the Berger Institute. I now have the skills and experience necessary for me to be successful in graduate school and I have the Berger  Institute to thank for it!

On Consistency

by Adrienne Johnson ’16

I knew I wanted to become more involved with extracurricular activities at CMC but I didn’t know through what outlet. I hoped to find an on-campus job that would let me pursue my interests while developing my skills. The Berger Institute’s emphasis on gender and work-­life balance issues immediately jumped out at me as something I wanted to become involved in, leading me to apply and join the team.

Since my sophomore year (I’m now a senior), working as a research assistant at Berger has provided continuity for me throughout my time at CMC. While I have dabbled in other on­campus activities, at Berger I’ve worked consistently with a group of people and seen multiple projects through from start to finish. I’ve developed personal relationships with my team, and we’ve developed a strong group dynamic over the past three years.

Each of us brings a different element to the team. As an international relations major, I bring a unique perspective to the table, as most of our team looks at our work through a psychology lens. All together, we are able to bounce ideas off of each other and generate strong results.

In addition to continuity with this project and my peers, I have also developed a strong relationship with Professor Kanaya. She consistently asks the tough questions about my goals, summer internship (and now job) plans, pushing me to think critically about my future and offering feedback along the way. This is one of those quintessential student-professor relationships people talk about when you tour a small liberal arts college.

My college career has had many ups and downs, but Berger has always been a great point of stability for me.