an e-newsletter for students and alumni of saint michael's biology department

The value of a good internship
By Professor Declan McCabe
Experiences beyond the classroom frequently provide the opportunities that distinguish Saint Michael's College graduates from other biology graduates. Internships in particular have the potential to provide hands-on experience that wonderfully complements a studentís academic biology program. In addition to learning specialized techniques and gaining formative experiences, interns make networking connections that can lead directly to employment and other post-graduate opportunities.

Saint Michael's biology students have participated as interns in diverse situations that include molecular biology, waste-water treatment, and medical examinerís laboratories as well as at the clinics of dentists, veterinarians and medical doctors. Students frequently earn academic credit for their internship experience. The internship experience is a valuable addition to any graduating studentís resume and can be the icing on the cake that catches the eye of a future employer or a graduate admissions committee.

Some of our recent student interns share their experiences below.

Medical examination

  Ashley Jean

In her internship at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington, Ashley Jean '10 attended autopsies, reviewed cases, and is currently working on a research project using the case log database. She had not anticipated how much anatomy and physiology she would learn from this experience.

Jeanís advice for biology students: "Definitely pursue an internship. Not only does it give you a great experience and learning opportunity but it also can help you build a network of people that can and are willing to help you succeed in the future."

Department of Fish and Wildlife

  Brittany Felgate and Alex Miller monitoring trees

Brittany Felgate '09 and Alex Miller '10 were both summer interns this year for US Fish and Wildlife in Essex Junction continuing a tradition of such internships fostered by Professor Doug Facey. Felgate and Millerís duties included electrofishing, watershed riparian zone monitoring, wetland and soil surveys, and mapping transects using GPS units.

Brittany Felgate's suggestion for her peers: "Make time for internships! They're a great asset to have, and give you a chance to explore what you're interested in."

Felgate is further expanding her horizons by volunteering at the ECHO center on Burlingtonís Lake Champlain waterfront.


  Lynsey Nally

Sopher Investment Management in South Burlington provided a unique internship opportunity for Lynsey Nally '10. The firm has offered internships to Saint Michael's College business majors for many years but has expanded their internship offerings to involve students with biology and environmental science backgrounds. This year, Saint Michael's interns are working to document the environmental sustainability practices of a range of companies. 

The motivation behind Nallyís choice of internship: "I am strongly interested in the environmental field as a possible job prospect for after graduation. In addition, I thought this position could possibly give me further ideas about what direction within the natural sciences I would like to pursue."

Veterinary medicine

  Adrian Cloutier with Mister

Technician Assistant, the formal title of Adrian Cloutierís '10 internship position at the Vermont Veterinary Surgical Center does not begin to describe the diversity of duties he performs.

"I assist with pre-operative procedures including testing blood samples, taking x-rays, and prepping the patient," Cloutier said. "I also assist in surgery when the doctor needs a different instrument or some type of assistance. Lastly I help with the post-operative duties including monitoring the patient until they wake up, re-sterilizing the equipment, and cleaning the surgery room."

Health care

Jill Ingalls' '10 internship also focused on health care, but of the human variety. She recently began shadowing the nurse practitioners in Good Health, an adult care facility in South Burlington. After encountering some initial difficulty finding a health care internship, Ingalls met with Joanne LaBrake Muehlberger, the Saint Michael's College Internship Coordinator, and an opportunity was identified in short order.

More internship opportunities

The students in this article found their internships using campus contacts including the professors in the biology department, the Saint Michael's internship Web site, on more traditional notice boards, and from previous student interns. Saint Michael's College Internship Coordinator Joanne La Brake Muehlberger stresses the importance of planning ahead for students interested in finding an internship. She notes that in the current economic climate, the completion of an internship could make the difference that allows a student to readily find a job after graduation.



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