Biology student share experiences from internships in the Arctic
Biology student share experiences from internships in the Arctic

Pre-Internship reflection and thoughts (UNIS laboratory technician)


My name is Anna, and I am a biology student from the University of Bergen. Currently, I am doing my sixth semester of my bachelor’s degree at the University Centre in Svalbard. Last semester I took two biology courses here; AB-201 Arctic terrestrial biology and AB-204 Arctic population ecology. Studying in Svalbard is an amazing experience, and I definitely didn’t feel ready to leave this place after Christmas. This semester I am doing courses that take a more practical approach to biology: AB-207 Research project in Arctic biology, and AB-208 Internship in Arctic biology. The research project I’m doing is about plant phenology and how it is connected to climatic factors, and my internship is at the lab at the biology department here at UNIS, which is why I am writing this blog post. Over the course of this semester I’m going to write a few blog posts to document my experiences.

As a biology student I often get the question: “So… what exactly does a biologist do? What kind of jobs will you be qualified for after you finish your education?”. I often find it hard to answer this question, both because for a long time I actually wasn’t sure about the answer myself, but also because I now know how many diverse jobs are employed by biologists. However, this spring I will be trying out one of the many possibilities, as a lab technician.

A lab technician can have very varying work tasks, and especially in the position here at unis, where there are lots of different projects going on, and large seasonality in the activity. It will be interesting to try out many different work tasks, all from molecular techniques and maintenance of machines and lab equipment to explaining HSE regulations to students using the labs. I hope to learn new skills that could be useful for me in my future studies and work career.

I think that the possibility to do an internship like this is very valuable, as a bachelor’s degree in biology could end up being very theoretical. Having relevant work experience is often required to get a job, but it can be hard to find these kinds of jobs or internships before finishing a degree. However, I have been so lucky to be working with biologists before, in the environmental department of a hydropower company. I hope to add to that experience with this internship and learn about a different job that a biologist can employ.

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