Give three words that sum up your internship experience.
Educational, Practical, and Extraordinary
How did you learn about your internship?
“I was looking for an opportunity to go abroad this summer and I came across a program that was located in Cape Town, South Africa. I applied to this program, got accepted, and was granted an opportunity to intern at Scientific Services Laboratories.”
Describe your internship.
“The purpose of my internship is to educate me on the subject of water chemistry in South Africa. From day to day, I shadow researchers and assist with whatever test or instruments that they use. I am often assigned to help a specific employee each week.”
What do you enjoy most about your internship? What are some of the challenges?
“My favorite thing about my internship is the time I get to spend with my coworkers. All of them are Cape Town locals and they have taught me a lot about chemistry and life in South Africa. Adapting to the differences in lab technique proved to be difficult at first. The laboratory procedures that I’ve learned at Carthage are not always applicable to the lab environment here in Cape Town. Additionally, though everyone speaks English, a language barrier exists because I cannot always understand my coworkers’ accents. After spending a few weeks in the labs, I have become familiar with the lab protocol and I feel completely comfortable.”
How does your internship fit with your long-term career goals?
“My long-term goal is to get a job doing water-based or analytical chemistry. This internship provided a valuable experience working in a water-based chemistry field. It has also fueled my love of travel and shown me that I am able to work abroad after graduation, if I choose to do so.”
During your internship search, how did you make yourself stand out to employers?
“Internships in the field of chemistry often require specific lab skills to ensure accuracy, precision, and safety. In order to make myself and my lab skills stand out, I made sure to clearly advertise my applicable lab skills on my resume. I also emphasized some of my personal qualities that would be beneficial for my internship. For example, I included a statement about me being open minded and having an easygoing personality. This is an important thing to have when traveling and working in a foreign country.”
What did you find to be the most helpful during your internship search process?
“As I was searching for my international internship, I found that using key words to narrow my search became very important. I began with a broad search, looking at what types of internships and what destinations were available. From there, I narrowed my search to Africa and eventually Cape Town as I did more research and decided that Cape Town was the place for me.”
Do you have any tips to share with other students about your experience?
“My advice to other students is to not be afraid of taking an interning abroad. This has been the best experience of my life and I am so happy that I did it. It might be a bit more challenging to find an internship in a foreign country, but it is possible and it is worth it. Living in a different culture and working with locals has allowed me to grow as a person and as a chemist.”