Hi everyone, my name is Sara Kurian and I am a senior biochemistry major here at Shepherd University. One of the graduation requirements for science majors is to complete a senior research internship, so I thought I would tell you about my experience last summer with the WV-INBRE internship program, a program that several Shepherd students have participated in over the years. Through this program, 22 students from West Virginia colleges were given the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge biomedical research at West Virginia University and Marshall University. For the internship, I worked in Dr. Bingyun Li’s lab in the Orthopedics Department at WVU.
Like many students, before starting the internship I was a little apprehensive about being faced with unfamiliar research equipment and protocols, but thankfully I discovered that my research background from labs at Shepherd was quite thorough and everyone in the lab at WVU was quite happy to answer my questions. Specifically, my project was to test if the novel antibiotic LL-37 could eliminate the intracellular bacteria in osteoblasts as a model for treatment of recurrent bone infections. Through this project I learned some new techniques such as co-culturing Staphylococcus aureus and osteoblasts, and was also able to incorporate some of the techniques I learned at Shepherd like determining concentrations with a hemocytometer and plating and counting bacterial colonies. Besides my mentor, I also worked with several graduate students and medical students in the lab, so as a pre-med student I was quite glad to have the opportunity to learn what to expect during medical school and some first-hand tips for success. Thus to end, I would just like to leave you with some tips for your internship experience.
5 Simple Tips for a Successful Internship Experience:
- Start looking for research internships at least a semester in advance, as many of them have deadlines that are quite early.
- Get some research experience to build up you application. It is often a good idea to work on a research project with one of your professors to show your commitment to research.
- Research the projects currently under investigation at the prospective institution and be able to relate them to your research interests.
- During the internship, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to new people. Graduate students as well as faculty members are a great source for information on things such as what to expect during graduate school. Also many internship programs offer seminars throughout the summer that are also great opportunities to ask questions and learn new information.
- While working on your research project, keep very detailed notes and make sure you understand why you are doing each step. Thorough notes really come in handy when you have to prepare a written report or poster on your project, especially if this occurs several months after you do the actual research. Also, knowing why you did each step will help you successfully explain your project and answer questions during presentations.