On Challenges and Changes: My Internship at GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre

NBDC Research Assistant Candice Coombs

By Candice Coombs, Research Assistant at NBDC.

If someone had told me a year ago I would be in Beaverlodge working with bees today, I would have said, ‘where’s that?!’ followed by a big eye roll of disbelief.

Before I landed my internship at the GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC), I worked in a flower shop in Calgary. I had recently moved from Wolfville, Nova Scotia as a recent biology grad struggling to find experience. Getting that first job after graduation can be a frustrating, demoralizing process. So I picked a niche I was passionate about—bees—and went for it. In the process of bothering all of Alberta’s beekeeping community for an employment opportunity, I was recommended to apply for an internship at NBDC. To my parents’ astonishment I finally had my foot in the door. So I packed my whole life into my tiny car, fat cat included, and left Calgary for the great white north and for the bees.

My goal in moving to Grande Prairie was to get the lab experience I was desperate for, but I’ve gained so much more in the process. This internship has given me the opportunity to meet beekeepers and attend beekeeping conferences. I’ve had the chance to make connections and meet people I would not have had the chance to before. It has been so interesting gaining knowledge about NBDC’s diagnostic services and how these tests help beekeepers. I’ve learned to follow protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), proper safety measures when dealing with toxic chemicals and just the general ins and outs of a level 2 laboratory. The work I do in the lab is ever changing, so boredom is never a factor in this job. The knowledge at NBDC is expansive – there are always new learning opportunities to jump on.

If I had one takeaway from my internship I would say, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Go after what you really aspire to do and you will not regret the outcome.

Interested in research opportunities at GPRC? Click to learn more about GPRC student research opportunities or about the National Bee Diagnostic Centre.

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