I'm a freshman computer engineering major doing a summer research internship at a large public metropolitan university . My internship is a bit unusual. My internship is based in a Latino Studies Research Institute, and my research for the summer concerns using machine learning methods to statistically analyze possible correlations between race and socioeconomic status in certain Latino groups. This is my first time conducting research, and I'm a bit lost.
For example, my research advisor told me I'm looking into a new area of (which surprised me heavily) since nobody has ever approached that area in the way that I'm before. Basically, my research won't be heavily conclusive (I'm working with only a few hundred data-points, a threadbare amount). I intend for my paper to at least get some interest in using machine learning for social science/ethnic studies.
Also, I'm unsupervised. I basically come in everyday and look for machine learning algorithms to better fit my data, along with more information for the qualitative aspects of my soon to be report. And for the most part, besides a research associate who is a statistician, I'm left to do the grunt work of looking up all the programming and statistical techniques for my project. Also, the professor that I was recommended to talk to isn't in the same field as me ( he's in Environmental Engineering ), so I don't know what to do from there.
So, I would like to know -
As a undergrad researcher whos conducting research in a field that is not my major, what is expected of me? I'm a Computer Engineering major in a Sociological/Ethnic Studies Research Institute.
How can I bring up issues to my adviser? Sometimes it feels like I'm being left out to do my own research. Every other intern seems to have somebody who our research adviser brought in to help them out specifically - e.g a intern doing Latin music has a musicology grad student to advise them , a intern doing migration patterns in Latin America has a sociology research associate to advise them, etc.
What should I do to stay with the institute? I really like what they are doing, and they seem to like the research that I'm doing, and do tend to hire people that are beneficial to them after they graduate college. SO how can I make sure to not only keep that up, but to possibly be employed by them post-grad?
Also, what should I be doing in my research in order to complete it successfully?