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January Term Internship: Brittany Wilkerson ’16

Feb 03, 2016

Professors and student in laboratoryRandolph-Macon College student Brittany Wilkerson '16, a biology major and mathematics minor, participated in a 2016 January Term (J-term) internship. Wilkerson interned at the Virginia IVF and Andrology Center in Richmond, Virginia. The Center is a private practice that provides assisted reproductive techniques for the treatment of infertility.

Unparalleled Opportunities
In the Center's lab, Wilkerson worked under the guidance of Scientific Director Dr. Dennis Matt. She ensured that the lab equipment functioned properly, helped with patient set-ups, and observed and assisted with egg retrievals, egg and embryo cryopreservation, in vitro fertilization, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. She has worked part-time at the Center for several years as an andrology assistant, and her internship added another dimension to her already impressive skill set.

Wilkerson, a member of R-MC's Alpha Chapter of Chi Beta Phi and the Diversity Council, counts her internship as one of the best opportunities she's had in college.

"I loved going to the lab every day and being part of a team that helps couples who can't otherwise conceive a child," she says. "I cannot imagine working in another field."

Mentorship and Guidance
Matt, who also serves as clinical associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at VCU Health Center, said Wilkerson's internship helped her experience what it would be like to pursue a career in laboratory science.

"My role was to educate and train Brittany in the laboratory techniques in assisted reproductive technologies," he explains. "These techniques include gamete and embryo culture, human in vitro fertilization, semen analysis, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, embryo classification, gamete and pre-implantation embryo cryopreservation." In addition, Wilkerson assisted in preparing culture media and cryopreservation solutions for embryo culture.

"Brittany also prepared patient paperwork and participated in the rigorous laboratory quality control measurements that must be performed daily to assure that all instrumentation is performing within its set tolerance range," says Matt. "We educated and trained Brittany as if she were assuming the role of a junior embryologist in our laboratory."

R-MC Biology Professor James Foster, Wilkerson's advisor, says internships give students a glimpse into the working world.

"The good and the bad, the exciting and the mundane," he says. "An internship allows the student to ask, 'Is this what I want to do for a career? Can I see myself doing this for a living?'" In conjunction with her internship, Wilkerson kept a daily log, wrote a final report, and gave a PowerPoint presentation at the January 29 biology internship symposium.

"We really appreciate the willingness of Dr. Matt to share his expertise with Brittany," says Foster. "He has supervised several R-MC student-interns throughout the years, and we are thankful for his guidance."

R-MC Internships
J-term internships offer a real-world setting for connecting academic learning with the workplace. R-MC's Edge Career Center and dedicated faculty assist students in finding the perfect internship opportunity.

The Edge is an intensive four-year program that prepares students for life after college. Located within The Edge Career Center, it gives students a competitive advantage in the job market or graduate-school admissions process. Workshops, internships, one-on one advising, a career and networking Boot Camp, and a host of other resources ensure that students who graduate from R-MC are lifelong learners who can think critically and adapt to new situations.

More than 130 students participated in J-term 2016 internships, shadowing professionals and gaining experience at a wide variety of businesses and non-profits, including: Genworth Financial, Bon Secours Richmond Health Systems, Goodwill of Central Virginia, and McGuireWoods. R-MC's Bassett Internship program offers academic credit and connects students with tailor-made internships to explore a wide range of career fields in various locations. Students can also choose from a variety of paid or volunteer internship opportunities.