A day in the life of a UP intern

By Kaitlin Yap and Cheyenne Schoen | March 8, 2017 12:34pm


Junior Kat Carey researched ovarian cancer in mice at OHSU three times a week. 

by Hannah Baade and The Beacon / The Beacon

If you’ve never had an internship before, the thought of taking one on may seem daunting. You might imagine yourself in a blazer holding six cups of coffee in your hands, fumbling from cubicle to cubicle, trying to catch a glimpse of how the real world works.

But every internship is different and you really can’t get a feel for it until you just get in there and do it. To help you out, The Beacon talked to junior biology major Kat Carey, junior organizational communications and environmental ethics and policy double major Mara Midiere, and senior history major Nicolas Vavuris, all full-time students at UP with internships, about what day to day life in their internship is like.

Kat Carey, OHSU Taratula Lab

It’s an 8:00 a.m. wake up call on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for Carey, an ovarian cancer research intern. Since her sophomore year in the fall of 2015, Carey has been an intern researching ovarian cancer in mice.

She gets to Taratula Lab at the Oregon Health and Science University’s Collaborative Life Science Building to start her 9:00 a.m. shift. She makes a game plan with her boss, Dr. Canan Schumann on what her tasks are that day.

She works meticulously culturing, growing and splitting cells. She places these cells into 75 mL flasks and incubates them. Depending on what step of the research project the team is on, she samples mice’s organ cells to find proteins. She works hands-on with the mice: treating and taking images of their tissues on microscopic levels, searching for cancerous tissue.

While Carey’s work can be tedious, knowing that the work she is doing could have major impacts on patients with cancer in the future gives her motivation.

Carey gets to review the work of other researchers at OHSU every other Monday, brainstorming for new possible breakthroughs.

The junior biology major got her foot in the door at OHSU through a common connection at UP. She was rolling one of those big purple bins with all of her life belongings into Mehling Hall in the fall of 2015 when a friend of her roommate mentioned that she had recently interned in a research lab at OHSU. She ended up putting in a good word for Carey, and soon enough, she was called in for an interview with Dr. Schumann, who specializes in pharmacy. Carey was offered the position and has been working with Schumann ever since.

“Doing research on ovarian cancer is never boring and help[s] me realize that the medical field is always changing and adapting,” Carey said, “That’s something I love about it.”

Carey has always dreamed of being a doctor, and her work in a cancer research lab has helped her realize her desire to be in the medical field.

To students on the hunt for internships right now, Carey says to apply to many different places that catch your interest, as you’ll be investing a lot of your time into the work you do. She also advises to never give up on applying.

“Sometimes getting an internship is being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people, so try to network with the people in the field you want to go into to make as many connections as you can,” Carey said.

Nicolas Vavuris, Little Green Pickle

He sat at a wooden table in a coffee shop, eating brunch next to a handful of people who had all ordered the same thing: two pieces of toast, smeared with a thick layer of smashed avocado and topped with a delicate leafy garnish. But before they dug in, they took out their iPhones and snapped pictures of their strategically-placed meals in the natural light flooding in through the windows.

The people were Instagram personalities who are well-known in the Portland community for their aesthetically-pleasing photos of Portland’s finest foods, and senior history major Nicolas Vavuris invited them there that morning as part of his internship at the Little Green Pickle, a public relations firm for Oregon’s food and drink industry.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday Vavuris makes the 30-minute trek to the firm’s southeast Portland office. Because of a class he has mid-day on Mondays and Wednesdays, he goes to the office twice during those days; once from 9 to 12:30, and again after his class from 2:30 to 5.

While there, he’s writing pitches to newspapers and magazines, inviting people to events like the coffee shop meet-up, and finding publications and personalities who can help his clients promote their brands.

Going into the internship, he said he didn’t know much about public relations besides what he’s learned from some of his marketing classes, and has had to learn most of his work on the job.

“I have to be very open to positive criticism and expect that it’s not going to be perfect the first time,” Vavuris said. “During the interview, they told me it’s very important that you’re not going to get offended with your work being critiqued so we can make sure it’s the best it can be and we can be the most successful that we can.”

Vavuris had some advice for future interns, including putting your all into everything you do there, even the smaller tasks that don’t necessarily interest you as much.

“Definitely be willing to ask for help when you don’t know what something is supposed to be like,” Vavuris said. “It’s better that you’re willing to walk across and ask questions rather than just doing something and it being half-done. Just because something doesn’t interest you as much — don’t slack on it, because people will notice. Asking questions and putting up with the occasional task that you might feel is below you can’t hurt.”

Junior Mara Midiere plans events for Portland Fruit Tree Project.

by Hannah Baade and The Beacon / The Beacon

Mara Midiere, Portland Fruit Tree Project 

7:00 a.m. and the alarm clock is buzzing for Midiere, calling her to her internship at Portland Fruit Tree Project. She does meal-prep for lunch, dresses to impress and then she’s out the door, ready for her 10-20 minute drive to work. She works for 20 hours a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 18 hours in the office and two hours where she can work from home.

Portland Fruit Tree Project is a non-profit organization that works to provide fresh produce to those in the community who would not have access to this otherwise. It holds harvesting parties to gather leftover produce after the harvest for commercially sold products are collected, and works with local farmers to build community orchards.

Midiere works in the office, starting at 9:00 a.m. She is currently working on a project for April, which is community orchards’ month. She writes press releases and reaches out to sponsors. She also secures photographers and musicians for a work party where the team will harvest produce and then celebrate. The last step is taking over the organization’s social media account for the night, giving live updates of the event.

In the past, she’s planned an event to thank the organization’s sponsors at the swanky NE Portland spot, Opal 28. She produced the event materials, like signs and menus, and snapped pictures for the organization’s Instagram.

Midiere started working with Portland Fruit Tree Project this past spring semester. She secured this opportunity via CollegeCentral.

With 15 credits at UP, her 20 hour internship during the week, a job as an office assistant, and research with communications professor Dr. Alexa Dare, Midiere is full-time busy. She says that while hectic, her schedule is manageable and rewarding.

It helps that this internship is exactly what Midiere wants to do in her life. She looks forward to working in environmental law when she graduates from UP. Both she and the organization she works with have the same end goal.

“I’m thinking about overall impact,” Midiere says, “I appreciate the equality [Portland Fruit Tree Project] is addressing with regards to environmental injustice.”

Midiere advises anyone looking into finding an internship to have a workable cover letter and resume ready to go so that it will only take a few edits to mold them to the position you apply to.

When the internship opportunity was posted, all Midiere had to do was tweak her already made cover letter and resume before sending it in. After she had accepted the position, her boss told Midiere that one of the things that stood about her was how quick her application came in.c

Are you ready to start searching for an internship? Maybe even a job? To learn how to be best prepared for any opportunity that you’re looking for, head over to the Career Center for more information or for one of their How to Work a Job Fair workshops.