Saturday, October 18, 2014

Odd Jobs for an M4

I had no idea M4 would be like this. I am doing several weird jobs that I don't think most fourth-years do. I'm pretending as much as I was third year!

I'm a hiring manager and a travel agent.
This is something all fourth years do, but I'm adding it in just because it's so different from M3. For this job, I compiled a fancy-looking resume for a US senior medical student and packaged it with a nice personal statement. I scheduled some travel for her so that she has a broader experience to draw from as she interviews, and I tried to sublet her apartment as much as possible so that she doesn't break the bank. I managed her travel and get people to rescue her when she makes mistakes. (And boy is she a mess. She is constantly forgetting stuff at home, forgetting that when you don't change your address your new debit card gets mailed to the subleaser, forgetting that driving halfway across the country takes two days and you need sleep).

I am constantly checking my email for her, because interview invites come in fast and if you don't respond in a few hours, you don't get a spot. This chick's schedule is a mess. She's in Omaha for some NFP training thing for a whole week of primo interview time! And I had to schedule like seven interviews during her ER rotation. Hope she's okay with pulling nights and weekends. Hope she can pay for all the flights she's going to have to take. This residency nonsense isn't cheap.

I'm a biomedical engineer.
A weird twist of events led me to an engineering competition, which led me to a research project in which I am somehow the principle designer for a three-dimensional printed medical device. This is an amazing experience and I'd love to have a patent, but I burst out laughing every time I realize what I'm doing.

The engineering competition was an amazing experience. I didn't even know these things existed, but when I asked my brother (a senior engineering undergrad), he said, "Oh yeah, my roommate walked into one of those for the food. He almost won."

Here's what happened. An email was sent out from the College of Engineering (COE...boy that looks wierd after typing COM for years) with an application to a medically-themed engineering contest. It was sent to all the engineering undergrads and to all the med students. Forty engineering undergrads (out of almost 90 who applied) and as many med students as applied (four) were invited to attend. "Sponsors" (companies who fund the event, and you'll see why it takes so much funding in a second) provide the students with "needs statements" (things they want designed). In our contest, the needs statements were all related to rural and elderly health. In 48 hours, the students have to form teams, pick a needs statement, design and build a product (hardware, software, web or cloud components, prototype), and create a presentation to market it. The students get a chance to be engineers while being fed; the sponsors get free labor. At our contest, there was also a cash prize.

They sent out the needs statements the day before the contest. As I was driving there, I noticed that one had to do with gynecology. "Oh no," I said to myself. "I'm going to end up doing that one, I just know it." It didn't sound terribly interesting, and it also sounded impossible do without a pelvic exam on the person using the device. (Sorry if that was too much information.) I would rather have done one of the flashier projects and I had two favorites picked out.

Long story short: when the competition was only a few minutes underway, three teams had already seized my pet projects and there wasn't room for me on the team except as a consultant. And there were four people hanging around, teamless and needs-statementless. So I pitched the gynecology idea. And they shrugged and went with it.

We had ups and downs. Severe ups and downs. We oscillated between "this is the coolest invention since sliced bread" and "all we have is a smoking heap of circuitry." I wasn't extremely helpful. I can't write code, I can't build circuits, I can't sauder, and I have no experience with CAD software.

But I know how to sell stuff. I made the prezi and I sewed the fabric part of the invention. I sought out a nice mannequin to place our product on. This meant that I called half a dozen department stores and asked them the (probably) strangest question they'd been asked that day. "Hi, my name is mmatins and I'd like to ask your manager about female body forms or legs." Stranger still, I was successful. I carried a male torso model--completely unclothed--out of the back entrance of one store and stowed it in my trunk. I tried hard to remind myself I wasn't doing anything illegal. I then went back for a female torso on a stand, which I carried like some enormous, inappropriate lollipop through the food court and a parking lot.

At the end of the weekend, the COE announced that everyone would take home a small prize of $5-10. I thought, "well, that's nice. It covers part of my gas getting here." Then they announced second prize. "If we're going to get anything," I thought, "it'd be this," even though I pegged the two flashiest projects for first and second. Still, maybe.... Second prize wasn't us, so I internally shrugged. "It was a good experience," I began to tell myself. Then they announced first prize.

We won.

And because I later mentioned that I was at this contest when someone happened to be discussing 3D printing, I ended up giving a presentation on my first away rotation about bioprinting, during which I sounded like I knew something about it. And because I used to foodle around with Google Sketchup (now Sketchup Make), I could throw out a design for the product they wanted pretty easily. Sketchup + Google search + Wikipedia = makeshift engineering degree.

I'm a novice mistress.
Because there is no established curriculum for consecrated virginity in my Diocese, I am sort of making it all up as I go. This used to cause me slight distress, because there is such an emphasis on giving over one's will to another in the works of the Doctors of the Church and other authorities on the religious life. I shared this distress with my spiritual director and he smiled and shrugged. "What else could you do?" he asked.

I'm cobbling together a bunch of online classes and my weekly meetings with the other consecrated women. During these meetings, we cover what they think would help me and what I ask for. Recently, we finished a ten-point curriculum for living in intimacy with Jesus daily. (The love of God for the soul, the will of God, Scripture, love of neighbor, mutual love, Jesus in the midst of "two or three," the Eucharist, Love in community, Jesus forsaken, Mary, the Church, and the Holy Spirit.) We're moving on to forming a rule and leading a balanced earthly life. I asked that we do more on affective maturity and the evangelical counsels next. But I feel sort of like I do when I pretend to be an engineer.

My formal application for consecration is complete and submitted. My bishops are right now deliberating and discerning whether to admit me to the order of virgins. If they do (praypraypray), I will add another odd job: wedding planner.

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