Internship Series: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Madison Hardee

CAS’19 | Biochemistry

Global HIV Research Intern

CCD: Tell us about your work experience. What were your responsibilities?

MH: This past summer I had the pleasure of working for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in their Division of Global HIV & TB with the International Laboratory Branch. This experience helped expose me to the mission of the CDC to combat and prevent infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. The team I worked with was tasked with quality assurance of laboratories established in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. I learned the importance of communication on a global scale and what it means to work on a team. My biggest project was compiling data for a stability experiment performed by the team’s lab technicians. After developing graphs to depict the data I wrote my first abstract which will hopefully be published in the future, thus making me a co-author.

CCD: How did you get the position? What resources at BU or elsewhere did you use?

MH: After not being accepted into any of the internship programs I applied to online, I used my connections to land this position as a student fellow. A friend of my mother who worked for the CDC agreed to help me find a position by circulating my resume throughout the department with the hopes that a laboratory team would be interested in hiring me. Luckily, two teams were interested and I secured a position. 

CCD: What is one challenge that you encountered during your summer experience and how did you manage it?

MH: Unfortunately, working for the government requires a lot of paper work and if a small detail is wrong then the process is delayed. My birth date was mistaken by someone in the office who was filling out my paper work and as a result that pushed my start date of my internship back by a month. Although a wonderful experience, I only worked at the CDC for two months instead of three months.

CCD: What was the best thing about the experience? What was the worst?

MH: The best thing about my experience was the bond I made with my team. Every member of my team was so gracious in welcoming me and wanted me to learn as much as I could without feeling overwhelmed. They truly made sure I enjoyed my time with them. The worst part was being in the office all day. I enjoyed when we had team meetings because that felt like a break from my desk. This experience made me realize that I cannot work a 9-5 that requires me to stay at my desk.

CCD: What was the most memorable moment of your experience?

MH: The most memorable moment of my experience was actually outside of the office. My team planned a bonding night where we grabbed dinner at a restaurant and afterwards went to the community recreation center for contra-dancing, which is like line-dancing. It was a great time full of laughter and friendship.

CCD: What advice would you give to another student about making the most of an internship or job experience?

MH: When it comes to an internship or job experience know that not everything will go as planned nor will it all be easy. It is also okay not to enjoy every aspect of your job because that tells you more about yourself. Use every work experience as an opportunity for growth and the chance to better understand yourself!

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