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In this three-part series, previous interns share about past internship experiences and current careers. There's part three.
Erin Lorraine Broberg

Over the past ten years, Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) has hosted internships for dozens of undergraduate students, providing opportunities you just can’t find anywhere else. Interns at Sanford Lab work with professionals from around the globe on world-leading research. Depending on the position, interns gain hands-on experience on unique engineering projects, stimulating science writing or experiments in the fields of particle physics, biology, chemistry and geology. 

“For Sanford Lab, internships are an investment in the future,” said Peggy Norris, deputy director for Education and Outreach at Sanford Lab. “A strong STEM workforce in South Dakota is crucial for the future health of the lab and its workforce. For the student intern, internships are an important component of their education. Internships reinforce their choice of careers, or perhaps they will realize that a career path is not for them. In either case, they will learn important life and work skills.”

Sanford Lab is now accepting applications  for internships in the fields of physics, chemistry, geology, engineering, science education and communications, journalism or related disciplines. The deadline to apply is Jan. 16, 2019. If you are a student (or if you know a student) who is interested in an opportunity that allows you to work in—or alongside—exciting research, take some time this winter break to apply. Applications can be found at: 

This is round three of stories from previous interns whose experiences at Sanford Lab have taken them to exciting careers. 

Zane Boldon, mining engineering above and below

After Zane Boldon’s mining engineering internship at Sanford Lab in 2015, he went on to graduate from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines). Since then, he has worked as an equipment operator at a local aggregate quarry before becoming a field engineer with ENTACT, a company that provides innovative solutions to geotechnical and environmental projects. Boldon took a minute to share with us about his career. 

Tell us about your position as a field engineer. What tasks do you tackle every day?

“On a day–to–day basis, I manage an equipment and vehicle fleet for an ENTACT project site,” Boldon said. “This involves assisting field mechanics maintain, diagnosis and repair any unit to ensure the units are work ready for the project. Sourcing and procuring necessary parts and supplemental equipment is a part of daily operations.”

Why is this current position important to you, personally?

“It has provided very valuable learning and work experiences, allowing me to develop my communications skills further and gain experience in management,” Boldon shared.

Did your internship at Sanford Lab provide connections or build your knowledge or expertise for this current position? 

“Yes, my internship had provided excellent insight for my current position,” Boldon explained. “During my internship, I had performed time studies on equipment and operators to gain accurate information on production rates. This opportunity illustrated to me how providing well maintained equipment allows operators to do their work safely and effectively. And it had allow me to develop communication and organization skills, which is extremely helpful when working with an entire project team.”

Rashyll Leonard, a science-driven career 

Rashyll Leonard, who completed her internship with Sanford Lab in 2014, has had a career path with a few unexpected turns to her position at Immutrix Therapeutics today. Leonard took the time to share her story with us this week. 

Tell us about your work experience since your internship at Sanford Lab.

“After an internship with the South Dakota Dashboard, an internet data service aimed at helping South Dakotans make data-driven decisions, I took a position at SD Mines as the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) lab technician. I really enjoyed this job because it allowed me reconnect with the science at Sanford Lab,” Leonard shared. “Unfortunately, I did not see myself continuing with a career in physics, so I left the position in search of a different career path. My objective was to become a teacher. While pursuing a master's in teaching, however, I was offered a job at Immutrix Therapeutics. My first position at the company was as a lab technician, and it reminded me how much I love science. I saw that I could be involved in new, exciting science without having to get a PhD, so I put my teaching plans on hold. I'm very glad I did, because Immutrix has given me tremendous opportunity for growth!”

What does your position with Immutrix Therapeutics entail? 

“Immutrix Therapeutics is a medical device start-up in Rapid City,” Leonard explained. “I am the assistant lab manager for quality control and oversee all quality control tests of the carbon before it is loaded into one of our devices.”

“What I do day-to-day is always changing!” Leonard continued. “We are a start-up, and as such all employees have the opportunity to step into rolls that would otherwise be closed to them at a larger company. A few constants are: the implementation and supervision of quality control tests, maintenance and creation of standard operating procedures, maintenance of equipment and design implementation of R&D experiments. My favorite part of the job is helping with R&D experiments.”

“Also, because the company is small and a start-up, I have the opportunity to observe and participate in the creation of fundamental and essential processes, such as the creation of an inventory system,” Leonard said. “Being able to see these thing developing gives me a firm appreciation for structure and communication as well as insight to what makes a successful entrepreneur.”

Did your internship at Sanford Lab provide connections or build your knowledge or expertise for this current position? 

“Absolutely. My internship at Sanford Lab was one of the top reasons I worked as the LZ lab technician at SD Mines. The experience I gained during my internship, coupled with my work for LZ , was why I got the position at Immutrix,” Leonard said. “I'm currently using the knowledge I gained to help develop a production line within a cleanroom. General lab practices, safety procedures and miscellaneous science facts that I learned during my internship also come in handy on a regular basis.”

Anything else you'd like to share?

“Working at Sanford Lab, particularly on the 4850 level, is hands down the coolest job I've had,” Leonard said.