In the Winter of 2018 I performed my internship at Air Water and Soil laborites or AWS labs, an environmental lab that would take samples from various clients and check for the levels of certain compounds and elements in said samples. As an intern I provided assistance to several departments within the lab including: Wet Chems, Semi-volatiles, Extractions, Metals Prep and Metals. I also aided the log in staff, and on occasion helped organize the lab by sorting and filing documents or moving equipment between storage spaces.

Since I would typically help several departments in the course of one day I was exposed to and learned a variety of different laboratory skills including: How to calibrate various piece of equipment such as pipets, pumps and scales. The proper way to neutralize and dispose of preserved aqueous samples. How to correctly execute safety procedures such as using an eye wash station or reporting an incident to a safety officer. How to mix diluted solutions of acid or base out of its concentrated counterparts. How to measure the PH of samples with PH strips and a PH probe, and how to adjust the PH of the samples to fall within a certain range.

I was also exposed to more generic common practices for laboratory work including the proper way in which scientific data is recorded. Learning how to perform an experiment from a standard operating procedure or SOP. As well as having to demonstrate competence in a procedure before being allowed to perform it on your own, also known as a DOC or Demonstration of Competence. I also learned how to navigate the laboratory’s internal labeling system used for samples.

While the (non all-inclusive) list of skills described above were valuable to learn, they weren’t the only things I gained from the experience. I also learned about working in a professional work environment, in a job that typically requires a bachelor’s degree to have. More valuable still was the exposure the internship gave me to what is a potential career option to me. With this exposure I will now be better equipped to make judgements about what type of career I may want to peruse in the future and more accurately predict what I find enriching and rewarding in a job.