Savannah River National Laboratory Welcomes Largest Class of Interns

By Andrew Sommers
June 10, 2024

Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) marked a significant milestone Wednesday, June 5, by hosting an orientation for the largest group of summer interns in SRNL’s history.

The orientation for more than 80 interns from 31 different universities kicked off with inspiring words from senior leadership and followed with an engaging agenda aimed at setting the stage for a productive, and enlightening summer.

The morning began with words from Deputy Laboratory Director Sharon Marra, who shared some tips on how to get the most out of the program. “Ask questions, use those pair of fresh eyes, and work with your mentors,” said Marra.

Following opening remarks, the event featured speakers representing the laboratory’s three directorates: Environmental and Legacy Management, Global Security, and Weapons Production Technology. Each speaker provided insights into their respective areas, offering a comprehensive overview of SRNL’s science, and its mission.

Connie Herman, associate laboratory director, Environmental and Legacy Management, speaks to SRNL’s student interns at the intern orientation. (SRNL photo Justin Crawford)

A segment of the orientation featured a Q&A panel with some former and returning interns. This interactive session allowed students to gain valuable perspectives on how to navigate their internships. Former intern Becca Davis, now a benefits analyst in Human Resources, touched on the importance of the program to the students’ potential future careers at the lab. “Consider this a really long interview,” said Davis.

Additionally, a group of current intern mentors took the stage to discuss their roles and the support they can provide. Following the panel discussion, some interns spoke to the mentorship program’s value. “A good mentor will use constructive criticism,” said Michael Murphy, a mechanical engineering student and Department of Energy, Office of Science, Science Undergraduate Laboratory Intern (SULI) from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, “It’s good to have a someone that can ask you those challenging questions.”

Approximately 50 of the 80 SRNL summer interns posed for a picture during orientation June 5, 2024. (SRNL photo by Justin Crawford)

Safety, which is foundational at SRNL, was a major focus of the orientation. Interns were briefed on SRNL’s safety culture, including policies, procedures, and best practices to ensure a safe and secure working environment. SRNL’s administrative processes, expectations, and the conduct required during interns’ tenure at SRNL were also discussed. The session demonstrated to the interns SRNL’s commitment to maintaining a safe workplace, a crucial aspect of its operational ethos.

Valerie Preddy, SRNL’s internship program lead, said the interns have a lot to look forward to, and that the success of the internship program is a collaborative effort. “It takes teamwork from the researchers, mentors, Human Resources, hiring managers, and other support staff to ensure that the interns have an overall good experience,” said Preddy.

In addition to the research associated with their internship, interns will participate in a wide range of activities during the course of the summer, such as site tours, outreach events, social events, and a research poster session.