Internship Reflection: Nadine Iraguha and Kritika Sahoo

7 am. Two girls exited their respective vehicles and rushed towards the register in hopes of being on time. They quickly dressed themselves with their pristine white lab coats as their stomachs coiled with anticipation for the day’s schedule. This was exactly what took place for two girls during their one-week internship.

It had been a fascinating experience for them, as it was a step beyond their regular biology classes. In the microbiology lab, vials of various bodily fluids from hundreds of patients were sampled, identified and treated in just the course of a week. This experience was not for those who were faint of heart, but of those that could overcome the natural urge to be ehm ‘terrified’ of the situation.

Some of the many skills the juniors had learned, but were not limited to where: the method of dyeing the collected pathogen in glass slides, the proper method of using a microscope and identifying objects such as common parasites, red blood cells & white blood cells and large, calcium crystals, the method of growing bacteria in agar plates from samples and how the researchers use technology for their advantage.

Working on a Saturday was a surprise for them however, and for good reasons. It was a day different from the rest, as they had to prepare different solutions for agar plates which was interesting, and different to the weekdays. Also, an unforeseen event came in their way as their bloods were being sampled for identifying their respective blood types. They both were fairly shocked at first, but found it impressive on how simple the process of identification was. What made it even more worthwhile was that the exact same topic was taught in their biology class the week after the internship, and knowing their own blood group gave them a head start over their peers that didn’t have the same experiences. 

However, the pair felt that there were some slight setbacks. For starters, they had limited knowledge in the French language, let alone jargon, and were completely dumbfounded when their colleagues conversed with them in Bombara. They often wished that they could experience going to other sections of the lab as they spent the majority of their time in only one section and complained that the duration a workday was unreasonable as it started at 7:00 am!

Yet, despite these challenges, they recommended other students to have similar experiences as they did, if not better at the lab particularly if they are immensely interested in being researchers in the fields of medicine and biochemistry but do not wish to become doctors. They must also be aware of the setbacks and must prepare themselves well, mentally and emotionally, as they would often see things that they wish they could filter out of their minds. This internship is definitely not for those that get repulsed easily.