As I finish up my last week at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, I cannot help but reflect on my experiences as an intern over the last few months. When I came into the office on the first day I didn’t know what to expect, or even what type of work I would be given. My supervisor, Catherine Jhee, who was helpful as always, showed me to my desk and got me started on website work. She put me in charge of adding events and news highlights as well as making sure that there wasn’t any spam posted on the website. To be honest, we do have a bit of a spam problem! I was also given the job of updating the database with new contacts, which was not so fun, but extremely important.
After about two weeks of work, I was invited to go with Dr. Michael Levine to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, CA. It was an unbelievable opportunity for me, and definitely a great introduction to the field of games and new media. When I returned to the Cooney Center, I was asked to write a blog post about my experiences. This was very exciting, because not only do I love to write, but it was also my first official blog post.
A few more weeks went by; I was mostly doing website and database work, but also had been given the opportunity to critique our website and make suggestions to improve it. Then, in the beginning of July, I was invited to participate in an E-book research study that the Cooney Center was conducting at the Hall of Science in Queens, NY. It was my first early childhood research experience and it was really fascinating to observe and be a part of. I had previously done research in a lab at Mount Sinai, but interacting with mice doesn’t compare to interacting with young children!
The next week, I had a discussion with Carly Shuler, a senior consultant at the Cooney Center, about updating the iLearn study. The Cooney Center first published the iLearn study two years ago, as a content analysis of the top 100 apps in the education section of the iTunes app store. The update seemed necessary because two years ago, apps were only made for the iPhone. In fact, it seems likely that with the introduction of the iPad less than a year and a half ago, apps are now being tailored to a much different crowd.
It was my goal to find out whether that was the case. Just as with the 2009 study, we were very interested in seeing the subjects, prices, and recommended ages of the top 100 educational apps. However, this time we coded for the top 100 apps on both the iPad and iPhone. We also decided to code for apps that advertise parent-child interaction, though I am unsure about whether there will be significant results. At this point, I have finished my part of the coding, but for more reliable data, a few others are being asked to code as well. I will be off to Madison when this occurs, but I look forward to seeing the final results.
I definitely learned many important skills as an intern at the Cooney Center and was given the opportunity to get a taste of everything; whether it was going to conferences like Games for Change and E3, doing website and database work, or even writing blog posts. But, I also feel that I discovered something that is equally important, though much more subtle-to understand what you truly enjoy doing, you have to try things, and that is what I find to be really important, especially as a college kid, trying to find a niche in a world full of opportunity.
It has been a wonderful experience and I cannot thank the Cooney Center staff enough for their guidance and support.
Zachary Levine was an intern with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center this summer. He is a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is studying international relations. We thank Zach for all of his contributions to the Cooney Center this summer and wish him the best as he heads back to Madison this fall.