Sonia Ibarra

Sonia Ibarra
Marine Biology/Zoology
MInor: Scientific Diving
Marine Bio Research
University of SE Alaska
Juneau, Alaska

HSU student interns as scientific diver in Alaska

Sonia says…

Internship duties? I will be diving and doing surveys of local reefs and determining what species of invertebrates and algae are there. I will use this information and compare it to what invertebrates and algae are on the artificial reefs and monitor what is working on the artificial reef. Certain species offend algae and so we are observing to see that the artificial reef is establishing itself as well as the natural occurring reefs.

What I am most looking forward to in my internship? Diving in Alaska and the opportunity to develop my own research project and have it follow along the lines of the bigger project of the mentor. I will be able to do underwater research which is what I prefer to being in a lab setting.

What inspired me to seek an internship? I knew I needed to get some type of research experience for getting into grad school. My career counselor encouraged me to get an REU internship, and raised the bar for me to explore research internships. If she had not pushed me so much, I would not have applied at 15 different places. She motivated me to go all out and do the work to secure the best experience.

What I learned from my HSU education that prepared me for this internship? My scientific diving class taught me actual protocols, and extensive species lists and variations among the species. I learned to collaborate and work in huge groups of people diving and doing underwater surveys. I also gained experience relating the information I found correctly to the person wanting the data.

How I found my internship? My career counselor provided me with a list of internships in marine biology. I went to the REU website and narrowed it down to 15 places. I completed applications and wrote my cover letters and resumes for each one. I also included a personal statement tailored to each specific internship application. It is important to prepare for each individual opportunity so that you focus on what the employer is looking for. My career counselor reviewed all of my applications materials.

Internship search advice? If you really want to do something, don’t let lack of experience or not good enough grades hold you down. There are lots of opportunities out there waiting for someone with fresh ideas. Motivate yourself to apply, and go all out. The earlier you start in your search, even a whole semester ahead, the more you have the chance to pick and choose rather than waiting to the last minute when deadlines are coming up.