About My Internship At The Hawaii Department of Health
By Jamie O.
When I first began my internship at the Environmental Microbiology Section, I spoke to my supervisor about the specific plans she had for me. Now that I am at the end of my internship, I can say that I definitely had the opportunity not only to participate in the tasks she had prepared, but so much more.
My supervisor’s primary plans for me involved learning how to process water and food samples with EPA- and FDA-approved standard operating procedures, and I have definitely gained a greater understanding of these procedures from being mentored throughout each step of each process. I observed how media was made for the different analyses, and then saw how the media is used for each type of analysis. Throughout the internship, I saw how the microbiologists in the lab receive the samples and process drinking water, beach water, dairy, and shellfish samples. Not only did I observe, but also my supervisor and the microbiologists in the lab were so gracious to allow for me to get hands-on experience, like helping to set up for the analyses. I even had the incredible opportunity to go to Hawaiian fishponds where the shellfish samples were obtained for the lab. In addition, my supervisor allowed me to get involved with Vibrio spp. validation studies with shellfish samples by working hands-on with real-time PCR.
My advice to future environmental health interns is to be attentive and inquisitive throughout the length of the internship.
In order to successfully complete such tasks, I made sure to pay close attention when being taught to ensure that the tasks being entrusted to me were going to be carried out in the best way possible. Also, in the lab it is imperative to observe carefully when watching lab techniques during the processing of samples in order to truly understand how those in the lab work so hard to ensure the quality of their test results for public safety. By refining these skills, future interns will be able to make the most out of their experiences and truly learn and be of use to their coworkers.
I’m grateful to everyone I had the honor of working with for making my summer internship such an amazing experience. They encouraged me to get as much hands-on experience as I could, and they were so patient in teaching me about what they do best. Having the opportunity to intern at the SLD in the area of environmental health that I am passionate about with such a dynamic group of people made my summer more than worthwhile, and I am excited for future interns to have such an enriching summer as well.