Bradley Hosking shares about what an internship is really like, how he got one, and how his initial nerves dissipated!
“I first heard about this internship through the course BIOSCI340 I was taking at the University of Auckland, centered on plant cell biology and biotechnology. Many of the lecturers also work at Plant & Food Research, in conjunction with their work at the University. It was a really informative course, and led me to become interested in learning more about this field and applying to intern for Plant & Food Research.
I considered the idea of an internship, as I was excited at the prospect of applying everything I had learnt over the course of my degree in a practical working context. I was also keen about the prospect of learning from the scientists in their day to day work!
"The interview process was quite informal. I was lucky enough to know the internship’s project supervisor, having been through BIOSCI340 as the class coordinator. Everyone on the interview panel was friendly and many of the questions evolved into open discussions.
"If like me you’ve never been an intern, you may feel as nervous as I was at the prospect. I wasn’t sure what to expect! I just hoped I would live up to expectations, and was determined to make the most of the opportunity. I was already set on entering into postgraduate studies, so saw this as an early chance to learn practical laboratory skills and see how a real molecular biology laboratory operated.
“On my first day, arriving at the massive building and being greeted in the foyer, I was incredibly nervous about making a good impression. However, it quickly became apparent how very welcoming and supportive everyone was. Having "summer student" as my job title gave me reassurance, and a licence to treat learning and making inevitable mistakes as a "part of the job" through every stage of the three month internship journey.
"Before I could get started I had a massive amount of scientific literature to trawl through to bring myself up to speed about the gene we were targeting, the metabolites involved, and the methodology we would be employing. However, once I had a firmer footing it was all go, and I came to appreciate the knowledge I had gained at the beginning.
“Day to day, the project I was working on involved a lot of work in the lab running a large variety of experiments. One of the key things I valued most from the experience was the sheer variety and volume of work in process and on display!
"I was tasked with genetically engineering one particular type of fruit in order to induce a new orange colouration. My work was varied and interesting, and included a diverse range of molecular cloning, plant breeding and genotyping as well as assay development to evaluate how effective our molecular tools were!
"Initially I was nervous about asking questions, or engaging people outside of my immediate circles for help. As it turns out, literally every person I spoke to during my time with the organisation was incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about helping however they could, so my concerns quickly dissipated. Once I settled in, I found chatting with many of the scientists to be incredibly inspiring. I was lucky enough to exist between two relatively independent teams, and hence got to draw heavily from a wider range of expertise.
I learned a lot over those three months, both from the work I did and from the awesome team around me.
"A key takeaway for me is the realisation that failure is a core part of science, and it's how you react to it that defines how successful you'll really be. Keeping on top of my note taking and trying to make sure my lab notes were accurate was also a challenge. It can be super tough keeping track of the wealth of samples, especially when you've named them 1-99!
“I gained so much during my internship. The ability to get hands on with CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing was a real game changer for me, as it's a technology I remain really excited to explore. Overall, I was surprised by how supportive everyone was. It really does feel like a big community."
Internships and getting recruitment ready with CDES
Here at CDES our Career Development Consultants can help you find an internship, develop confidence in interviewing, put together your CV with you, and much more. Head to the CDES website to find some top tips, then check out the range of free career events and workshops on offer on MyCDES, so that you can create the future you love!