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Laboratory Co-Op Experience During the Pandemic

2020 already starting off on a weird note, the Coronavirus that unexpectedly came with its severity, different students at my school had various experiences during this unusual time. My co-op took place at a Universal Display Company and Contract Research Organization Lab in New Castle, DE, called Adesis Inc. I was the only chemistry intern hired from Drexel. Now, coming to work wasn’t bad at all. As a matter of fact, there is a whole timeline of my co-op experience during this pandemic. During this time, I realized so much about myself, which I would not have caught otherwise. 

           Like every other student at Drexel, with a 2020 Spring-Summer co-op, they were scheduled to begin around March 30th. Unfortunately, just a few weeks before the anticipated start date, the whole country and world started declaring an emergency due to this pandemic. During my first drive on March 30th, 2020, down into Delaware from Philadelphia, the roads were completely deserted. I simply assumed that the desertion case was because I was driving down the I-95 at 6:50 in the morning, with the sun just barely peeking through the horizon. Unfortunately, after arriving at work and beginning the internship training process, my job was postponed by two weeks. That same morning I was driving to work, the Delaware Governor called a State of Emergency. With that news, I ended up going to my parent’s home in New Jersey for the two weeks, which turned into about a month of postponing my internship. 

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Boomerang Network, Dexter’s Labratory via GIPHY

           Once the virus began to slowly ease up, I came into work to finish my training and start going into the laboratory field. I was able to help out with the chemical reaction processes, purification, and analyzation. The laboratory required every morning when we came into work that our temperature was recorded by the nurse at the entrance. This was followed by a series of questions asking to see if we were experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus. With scattered shifts between the employees and working at the leading site with masks on at all times, I felt safe coming into work. My goal outside of work was to remain safe and not go out to places where I could potentially get infected or spread the infection. My schedule ended up being? waking up in the morning, going to work, coming home from work, making food, and repeating for the same for quite some time.

           Now, for the Breaking Bad portion of my internship, it was primarily chemistry where reactions were set up, conducted, and analyzed, which my small apartment was sure not to hold. In addition to that, PPE (primary personal equipment) was something I didn’t just have at my apartment readily available. For any chemistry student or STEM student who takes organic chemistry, my job was based around many organic chemistry reactions for the majority of my time. Before I began my internship, and I was still in classes, we were learning some synthetic organic chemistry reactions, but not applying them. Luckily the reactions that I learned in theory were being applied here, and I was able to experience purely organic chemistry synthesis here, and truthfully, I’ve never been more excited.

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AMC Television Network, Breaking Bad via GIPHY

           As students (college, high school, graduate school) read articles about internships, I would like to reach out directly to you through this paragraph. Being in STEM, I’ve never realized until recently how many doors are available to each major, with specialty, career, education, and concentration wise. If any co-op or internship opportunities are available, seize them! Send your application, don’t be a Debbie-downer if you get rejected from your top one because everything happens for a reason. With this co-op, I narrowed down my future career path to something more specific while also confirming that I am on the right direction with my major. Take up internship opportunities from as early as high school into college.

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Netflix, Bill Nye Saves the World via GIPHY

Melanie is a Drexel University student majoring in Chemistry. Melanie's hometown is Westfield, New Jersey, but she is currently living in Philadelphia where she goes to work in Delaware, while attending online classes from her apartment. She has two dogs and a cat, who she loves greatly. With any free time she has, she enjoys reading different fiction and dystopian books, thrifting her paycheck away, watching highly recommended or super-cheesy Netflix shows/movies, and enjoying time with family/friends doing various activities.
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