An internship is not only a monitored work experience, but also a way to test career interests and goals. For second-year student in Sustainable Agriculture at the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), Nathan Serway of Rockville, Md., his summer internship provided a chance to test his career choice of working in a laboratory and start building his resume.
Serway took an internship during the summer of 2017 at the University of Maryland, College Park's FIRE Environmental Pathogens (EP) research stream program located inside of the H.J. Paterson building. He mainly worked with the CONSERVE, a multi-institutional organization examining the viability of non-traditional water sources for use in agricultural irrigation.
Serway’s summer was filled with collecting water samples at the UMD Community Learning Garden on the College Park campus for bacteria count, strain, and provenance; and to analyze how environmental factors affect the bacteria. During his internship, Serway learned how to collect water samples, use bio-lab equipment and instrumentation, execute DNA extraction, and use proper bacteria culture lab protocol.
His advisor, Meredith B. Epstein, an IAA lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture, said, “Nathan had an internship that is a great example of how versatile careers in agriculture can be. He was able to pair laboratory work with practical field applications to help address water quality issues for small-scale farms."
Despite seeing gel electrophoresis DNA every week, the job was on the repetitive side and not very engaging according to Serway. On the other side, working in the field collecting water was enjoyable. In conclusion, Serway says, “Lab work is not for me. Too repetitive.”
Serway has transferred through the Agriculture Forward at Maryland (Ag Forward) program into the Environmental Science and Technology (ENST) four-year track. As a career goal, Serway looks forward to working with companies to make their practices more sustainable.