Michael discusses what he learned on his internship at Plant & Food Research, and the benefits of gaining industry knowledge.
“I wasn't sure what to expect as I began my Plant & Food Research internship over the summer. To be honest, I was hoping for some lab work and perhaps the chance to see how a Crown Research Institute operates.
Once I was there, it transpired to be even better than I had expected. The varied work I did each day and the opportunity to meet other passionate students and scientists was simply amazing.
“I considered undertaking an internship to get some industry experience, which often isn’t provided by universities during a science degree. I heard about this particular internship from my mentor on the Chiasma Connect program. She works at Plant & Food Research, and told me about the opportunity. I decided to apply, hoping that if I was accepted I’d gain industry knowledge and meet people in my chosen field such as scientists and other students. Plus, I also wanted to see how a Crown Research Institute works!
“The application process was a lot more relaxed than I expected. The first step was to apply online and send in my CV. After that, I was interviewed by two people who became my internship supervisors, as they were in charge of the project I worked on. The interview was quite relaxed, as they had already checked through my grades and work history. Really, the interview was more of an opportunity to chat about what would be involved day to day, and my potential availability.
“Before my internship began, I felt excited to see what I’d have the chance to get involved with! There was a lot to learn at the beginning, so I’d get slightly overwhelmed at times, but I found I had a lot of support over the first few weeks so it was easy to slot into place. The internship was three months long, and ran over the course of the summer.
“I was involved with the team investigating the interaction between PSA and kiwifruit, and researching plant immunity in general. Each day involved some sort of computer work including using Geneious (bioinformatics software platform for molecular biology and sequence data analysis), emails, and also planning experiments. I spent some time in the lab each day, plus some time in the glasshouse. Some days I was mainly focussed on reading literature, particularly at the beginning of the internship, but by the end of my time with Plant & Food Research I was predominantly focussed on lab work.
“One thing this internship really drove home for me is that science can involve repeating experiments again and again before getting good results! I also now know a lot about the specifics of my project, including PSA effectors and kiwifruit resistance genes.
“While those early days of the internship were particularly challenging, with a lot to take on board as you get up to speed with the project and lab protocol, I was surprised and thankful for how ready everybody at Plant & Food Research is to help, share information, and hear about students' projects. I particularly enjoyed the leadership events and personal development days (including complexing thinking tests), plus running my own experiments.
“Overall, this was such a worthwhile opportunity and I would recommend students consider interning as it is a great way to gain crucial experience.”
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