Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Chemistry
Swiss Quality Testing Services (SQTS)
Bachelor student in Natural Sciences
Namibia University of Science and Technology
August 01 - October 31, 2018
Working at Swiss Quality Testing Services (SQTS) for 3 months from August 01 - October 31, 2018 has been a productive journey for me. I made a promise to myself that I would work hard from my first day until my last day of my internship, and with the help of my workmates, I managed to successfully complete my internship. I had a chance to work in 3 separate departments; Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Chemistry. Firstly, I started working in the Microbiology Lab in the section where we prepared samples for microbiological analysis depending on what type of foodborne illness were to be tested. I ran analyses on meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and dairy products etc to test different types of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, VTEC, Sakazaki, Listeria monocytogenesis, E.coli, molds and fungi that may contaminate food samples. After 4 weeks I moved to the Chemistry Department, where my knowledge and skills in qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis improved greatly. I ran special chemical analyses using different analytical techniques to analyze fat, carbohydrates, proteins, histamine, ash and water, polyphosphates, cations, anions and drug residues that may be present in food products. I gained a lot of practical experience using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Calibration and standardization used to determine the concentration of analytes present in samples.
Lastly, I worked in the Molecular Biology Laboratory, where I gained a lot of experience in DNA extractions using different extraction methods. I was given a chance to validate the old extraction method and the new method MAXWELL that was recently introduced, this increased my pipetting skills since I worked with minimum amounts. I learned how to use the Nanodrop to measure the OD of the DNA that I extracted and perform dilutions to reduce the concentration of DNA if it is very high. After performing the extractions, I had to do a PCR reaction used to amplify specific target DNA. With all this experience that I gained at work, I can say that I am ready for the industry. From my first day until my last day of work, I always learned something new and whenever I did not understand, my workmates were always there to help explain and make me understand. This gave me a chance to learn much faster and improve my critical thinking skills. I would love to thank B360 and SQTS for giving me such an opportunity to do extensive work, I am really thankful for the opportunity.
My Swiss host family
An exciting way to know Swiss people is a stay with a host family. Upon arrival, with so much curiosity to see my host family, it was unfortunate that I could not see them at that moment. Sabina told us not to worry that she would take us to our host families for those of us that couldn’t be picked up. After 1 hour from Zurich we arrived in Hinterkappelen, where I received a warm welcome from the Zaugg family into their beautiful home. At first it was a bit challenging for me. because I was a bit scared that I would do something wrong and my host family could get mad at me, but as time passed by, I noticed how loving, caring and considerate the people were to me. I started communicating more with them and integrating myself into the Swiss culture. Throughout the week they always made sure that I woke up on time every morning, even knowing that I also had an alarm clock on my phone. It’s rare to find someone that can do all that for you, I was really thankful. On weekends we visited places in Switzerland, Swiss Alps in Thun, museums, Swiss villages, Interlaken, Bern etc. On the 17th September 2018 I celebrated my birthday with them though I arrived so late from Paris, they were still waiting for me to sing for me and wish me blessings, I received a Samsung Galaxy S8 as my birthday present from my host mom, this was just so unbelievable, at times I thought it was a dream but it was real, it was right in front of me. I will never forget my 22nd birthday ever. Our neighbour Patricia also hosted an intern and we always spent some time together, she called me all the time to take me along when they planned to visit some places in Switzerland with Antonia. I am really thankful for making my stay in Switzerland so remarkable.
Highlights and challenges in Switzerland
One of my biggest highlights in Switzerland: ice skating in Bern. This taught me a very important lesson of life never to give up no matter how hard you fall, practice makes perfect. Switzerland has an excellent train network that allowed me to see the beautiful landscapes, snow camp mountains, scenic lakes and charming historic cities while traveling. I also got a chance to go on a 2 hour boat trip on lake of Lucerne and saw the beautiful Swiss alps, mount Titlis, Rigi etc. We often visited Bern with my host family and saw historic monuments, Swiss parliament and had delicious meals at the restaurants. One of the challenges that I encountered was the language barrier, as you travel to different parts of the country the languages change, some parts of Switzerland speak French, German, Italian etc. It gets a bit difficult to learn one of the languages hence this makes communication difficult.
My future plans
Seeing the potential of this internship program, I can confidently say that it will open many doors for me when I return back to Namibia, as the work is quite extensive. I plan to finish my qualification and graduate 2020. I would also like to meet my fellow Namibia University of Science and Technology students to share my experience with them and help motivate them to work hard. I would like to inspire those who have low self-esteem to believe in themselves.
The power of success lies in the human mind. Anything and everything you put your mind to you can achieve.