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Internship Field: Education, Sociological and Psychological Research

Majors: Economics, German Studies

Host: Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung (for all Max-Planck Institutes see

Location: Berlin

Duration: 3 months in summer 2004


Description: "At the beginning of the internship, I worked on data entry for surveys on cheating collected in local high school (Realschulen & Gymnasia).  Concurrent to that, I did background reading on the field and on some basic psychological concepts central to the group’s work (self-concept, especially), both in English and German.

Towards the middle of the internship, we had first an international psychology conference, and then a statistics workshop for doctoral students in the institute, so I spent all my time helping out with those.  I also got to sit in on some of the sessions at both, which were in English, so I mixed learning with (fun) work.

The last part of the internship was spent working on my own research project on the role of teacher traits and classroom characteristics (such as whether grades or improvement are stressed) in determining student cheating.  I wrote a 25-page report about this and gave a presentation to the whole team towards the end.

Throughout, I also helped a bit with English translation and editing, whenever anyone came to me, which was nice, because it made me actually made me feel useful."

Comments: "For cultural familiarity with Germany, I can’t imagine anything better than going to lunch with the team daily, discussing the weather and their weekend trips and Urlaub scheduling, or than wandering around in the afternoons visiting people during their cigarette or coffee breaks, OR than spending 1.5 hour weekly meeting times eating ice cream and bantering and swapping jokes.  Both culturally and socially, it was great that the group had so many interns (5 at one point) in the group this summer, as well as all the Hilfskräfte, because, while I didn’t spend much time with them out of the workplace, I got to hear what it’s like to go through the Diplomarbeit and to meet people who are at the same stage as me academically, even if some were in a different place in their personal lives."

German language skills: "My German improved tremendously in terms of vocabulary, as a previously non-existent corpus in the fields of psychology and statistics got fleshed out considerably.  Also, just the daily greetings and lunch talk and impromptu discussion of my project made me much comfortable with everyday sorts of conversations and speaking off the cuff in the language."

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