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

Running expensive instruments

At the lab

During my first week as intern I have been working closely with my supervisor. I was pleasantly surprised as I got to spend the entire week in the laboratory! We prepared many agents for a seawater nutrient analyzer machine, and then ran a few hundred samples from various biologist through it to test phosphate, nitrate, nitrite and silicate levels. I found it incredibly useful to see how an analysis as such is ran, as I have never gotten to experience it before; in a Bachelor program the “important/thorough” parts are done by lab technicians (students generally aren’t trusted not to break expensive equipment, and now I get to see why!).

 My first day was spent under close supervision and consisted largely of learning by doing; safety regulations, how to pipette different volumes, use different weights, and generally the use of the different laboratories and equipment. The following days I was trusted to make several of the simpler agents independently, and got guidance from my supervisor when new methods occurred. I am incredibly appreciative of the teaching methods, as I am not expected to know how to do anything, yet am quickly given the trust and confidence to perform tasks on my own after learning the techniques and methods needed.

Per my supervisor we started off with the most intensive part of the internship, as the nutrient analyzer is a struggle to work with, to say the least. This week gave me a great confidence boost as I was able to meet the challenges I was presented with and stayed calm and collected despite my nerves and the newness of the entire situation.

So far it has been educational and interesting to get a glimpse inside the “real world” of biology, through doing the actual work, as well as by getting to know the biologists that work in the department and their individual research. Learning what a day as a biologist looks like is inspirational as well as a good reality check to see if this is the career for me to pursue!  Whereas I first was afraid I would not be able to live up to the demands of a career as a researcher/biologist, I am now pleasantly surprised to be able to picture it in my head with ease. More on my newfound confidence in my internship to come in my next post!

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