Public health summer internship spotlight

BY CHEYENNE ELLIS ’21

 Photo courtesy of Sarah Paust ’20  Sarah Paust ’20 working in a lab at a summer internship, doing gel electrophoresis.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Paust ’20

Sarah Paust ’20 working in a lab at a summer internship, doing gel electrophoresis.

Sarah Paust ’20 

Biology and Anthropology Major

Tell me a little about your internship.

“I worked at a research lab at Duke University. The focus was on respiratory virus pathogens that are affecting humans and animals. We did a lot of sample processing, which were human clinical samples taken from patients that were hospitalized with pneumonia in rural and urban Malaysia.”

What was the most challenging part about the internship?

“I think getting the internship was the hardest part because they did not post looking for positions. I was interested in their global health masters program, so I ended up contacting them directly and asking if the institute was looking for student researchers. They ended up relaying me to the principal investigator who was on the project. He said they had some students working and could take me into the lab as well.”

What was the most memorable moment of the internship?

“I had never taken molecular biology before, so I had never done PCR or nucleic acid extractions, which was most of what we did. The first time that I ran a PCR on my own, without another student or my supervisor, felt really good. When I put the results in the machine and got to visualize the results and read it, I was so excited!”

Do you have any advice for people looking for internships this year?

“I would say to start early, because I started looking in January and February. People were starting to get offers and I still had not heard anything either way. Also, if there are grad programs you are interested in, cold email them to ask what their summer research looks like!”



 Photo courtesy of Lydia Solodiuk ’20  Lydia Solodiuk ’20 had a summer internship at a suicide prevention non-profit called Samaritans.

Photo courtesy of Lydia Solodiuk ’20

Lydia Solodiuk ’20 had a summer internship at a suicide prevention non-profit called Samaritans.

Lydia Solodiuk ’20

English and Music Major

Tell me a little about your internship.

“I interned for a suicide prevention non-profit agency in Boston called Samaritans. I was the marketing and communications intern so I helped them rewrite their website with the goal of impacting people in that time of need, so it spanned writing, science and psychology.”

What was the most challenging part about the internship?

“I knew some things about mental health, depression and suicide prevention, but [I learned] there are specific words that you can or cannot use when talking about suicide and mental health. I had to learn those words with a guide published by other journalists that I had to read and internalize. Also, working in an office with adults was very different than working with other students.

What was the application process like?

“I had to do online training. It leaned more towards, ‘Tell us what you’re doing at school, and we can go ahead and get you approved.’ There wasn’t really an application process for this position — it was kind of just created. They never announced that they were looking for interns.”

What was the most memorable moment of the internship?

“My favorite part was getting to see how the whole organization works together because I was also helping out the development and fundraising team since they needed more intern support. I was helping them plan things like a 5K and I also talked with crisis services, who runs the hotline 24/7 and has hundreds of volunteers going in and out, while the grief support people were doing their thing. It is all the same organization, but everyone is doing such different things, so I thought that was really amazing.”

Do you have any advice for people looking for internships this year?

“I would say not to be afraid to apply to a million places because Samaritans was far down the list in an internet search, but I just kept going. Also, it is okay if you are not exactly qualified, as long as you are mostly qualified for the core things. If they say, ‘we would really like,’ that means it is optional. Just do it anyway. That is my advice.”

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