Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Undergraduate Internships


Updated June 2017


Workforce Development & Education (WD&E) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) runs several educational programs for college and university undergraduate students and faculty, teachers, and high school students. Though the financial support and administrative procedures for the programs may vary, and though the interns in the various programs may come from different locations and backgrounds, the basis of all of our undergraduate programs remains the same: students learn science best by doing science!


The Workforce Development & Education website contains general information about each of our educational programs; program calendars; instructions and deadlines for assignments and deliverables; and opportunities to volunteer with educational outreach events.

General Inquiries

Colette Flood, Manager

Manages all Workforce Development & Education internship programs, mentor communication.

Laleh Esmaili Coté, Undergraduate Internship Coordinator

Coordinates undergraduate internship calendar, facilitates mandatory events and enrichment activities, checks assignments, intern communication.

Nakeiah Harrell, Administrative Assistant

Onboarding interns, badging, WPC, travel, and related administrative matters.


All researchers have had advisers; many are fortunate to have acquired mentors as well. A mentor might suggest a productive research direction, offer encouragement during a difficult period, help a beginning researcher gain credit for work accomplished, arrange a meeting that leads to a job offer, and offer continuing advice throughout a researcher’s career. Mentors themselves can benefit greatly from the mentoring that they provide. Through mentoring others, researchers can be exposed to new ideas, build a strong research program and network of collaborators, and gain the friendship and respect of beginning researchers. Mentoring fosters a social cohesion in science that keeps the profession strong, and every researcher, at a variety of stages in his or her career, should act as a mentor to others.*

* from On Being A Scientist; A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research by National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 2009.


Past mentors have described some of the valuable aspects of mentoring:


A Facebook group has been created to offer communication, updates, schedules, and other information for LBNL staff who are current, past, or potential future mentors in the internship programs offered through Workforce Development & Education. We encourage you to use this resource to connect with other mentors.

Directions: To join this group, create a profile at with your LBNL email address as the username. Once logged in, type in “WD&E LBNL Mentors” in the search box at the top of the page, selecting this group in the drop-down menu that appears. Once on the “WD&E LBNL Mentors Group” page, select “Join Group” on the left-hand side of the page. Workforce Development & Education will verify that you are an LBNL employee, and then approve access to the group.


Even interns with the best academic preparation will arrive at LBNL unfamiliar with laboratory procedures and the real-world nature of scientific research. Let’s face it: a national laboratory is, in many ways, unlike any place in the world. The very things that make a research experience at LBNL such an attraction may be, at first, daunting and overwhelming to an undergraduate whose exposure to research has been limited to college classrooms and labs. To ease them into the research setting, it has been suggested that mentors provide their interns early on with the following:*

* from Techniques for Effective Undergraduate Mentoring by Stephanie G. Adams and Howard G. Adams, National Center for Graduate Education for Minorities, 1993

The following items are the requirements to ensure the intern can begin work promptly:


Orientation information for interns. They will be welcomed to Berkeley Lab, meet the Workforce Development & Education staff they will be working with, and introduced to to the required assignments and logistics of the internship program. The intern will join mentors in the lab in the afternoon on their first day. If you can’t meet your intern after the orientation, please send a designee from the research group to escort the intern to the lab.


In the first week, the following assignments are due: “Internship Work Plan,” “Memorandum of Understanding,” “Safety Checklist.” Plan when mentor and intern will meet to discuss assignments, and review work. A “Time Management Guide” has been provided for assistance in meeting required deadlines, and can be found on the Assignments & Deliverables webpage. Detailed information about the events planned for the term can be found on the Program Calendars.


Interns will vary in their academic preparedness, and it is useful to facilitate an intern’s familiarity with the research project prior to their start date. We have asked interns to contact you to ask for background materials published by your group, or related to the research project they will work on. Sometimes interns are reticent, so if you do not hear from your interns, we encourage you to contact them yourself. If you need a copy of the intern’s application or resume, contact, and we will provide these materials to you.

Generally, mentors should give guidance to students as they prepare their assignments and review and approve the work before it is presented.  Certainly, a major role for mentors of undergraduate science students is to help prepare them for advanced laboratory research. But, also of major consequence is the mentor’s role in assisting the students in preparing for the career path that will lead to the students becoming research scientists in their own right.

Graduate School: As a result of their research experience at LBNL, many undergraduates will, for the first time, consider going to graduate school. Others will arrive with plans for grad school, but only a vague sense of how to prepare. Mentors can be invaluable resources for students by: discussing their options for graduate study, how they can prepare themselves academically, how to find the graduate school departments that best match their interests, and introducing undergraduates to graduate students and post-docs in the department can be of immense importance.

Professional Development: Mentors can have a significant impact on the development of students as science professionals by giving them opportunities to observe and participate in staff and group meetings, research reviews, and conferences. [When opportunities arise for students to present their work at professional meetings, Workforce Development & Education will help to fund the student’s attendance, within the limits of our budget]. When appropriate, students should be encouraged to become co-authors on papers reporting the group’s research.

Reality Checks: There are a number of factors that act as barriers to a student’s success. Two of the most common are overconfidence and lack of confidence (Paradoxically, these two factors can manifest themselves in the same student). It is the mentor’s role to be open and honest with the student, to set high standards and expectations for performance; to establish review criteria; and to regularly review what the student has accomplished. Students need to be alerted to their deficiencies and given guidance on how to overcome them, as well as have their abilities highlighted and be given advice on how to expand and capitalize on them.



Mandatory Workforce Development & Education events for interns to attend each term are the following: Orientation, Brown Bag meetings, Peer Poster Presentations, the Poster Session, and Check-out.

Summer appointments are for 9 - 10 weeks, and Spring and Fall appointments are for 16 weeks. In the Summer, we have a "late start" date for participants who can't start on the first day for academic reasons. This later date is only for participants whose school's term ends later than the beginning of the program.

Participation requires a full time commitment for the duration of the appointment period. Interns should plan to be at LBNL full-time, completing 40 hours of work each week. Although the actual hours an intern works may vary from lab to lab, Workforce Development & Education expects that interns will work approximately from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday in the research laboratory. After communicating with the research team about their weekly schedule, interns will be required to confirm this schedule on the “Internship Work Plan.”

Each term, vacation time is not permitted. There are no exceptions to this rule. Interns are expected to work everyday, aside from Lab holidays.

As a mentor, you may suggest that the intern participate in a work-related meeting or conference that requires them to miss a day of work. In order to approve this, an e-mail is required from you stating the date and reason for participation, and that you understand that the intern will be missing a day of work. Interns can be terminated from the program for missing work without approval, so we encourage you to actively communicate about absences ahead of time.


These are mandatory meetings between the Internship Coordinator and each intern in the program.

The Internship Coordinator will schedule a time to meet with each Intern in their work space, to:

Interns do not have to prepare anything for this meeting. The Internship Coordinator will be meeting with interns only. If mentors require support during the program, they should communicate with the Workforce Development & Education Manager.


Brown Bag meetings are mandatory meetings designed to facilitate communication between Workforce Development & Education and interns.

During these meetings, Workforce Development & Education provides an opportunity for interns to interact with each other and share their experiences in the lab. Some of the Brown Bag meetings will assist interns in developing skills related to science writing, public speaking, working in a group setting, time management, and exploring future career and academic opportunities.

Brown Bag meetings are scheduled to be 2 hours in length, and this time is non-negotiable. It is not acceptable to miss a Brown Bag meeting because the intern is working in the lab; please counsel interns on creating schedules in which they can complete their work and attend these mandatory meetings. During the Fall and Spring terms, Brown Bag meetings are held once every two weeks. In the Summer term, Brown Bag meetings are held once a week until the Peer Poster Presentations.


Workforce Development & Education provides a number of optional enrichment activities each term. Tours are available of user facilities, such as the Molecular Foundry, the Advanced Light Source, the Machine Shop, CRT, and JBEI. Group trips to local institutions, such as the California Academy of Sciences, act to strengthen the social connection between participants, and provide exposure to Bay Area landmarks. Additionally, lectures hosted on-site at the Lab will be announced to interns who are interested in attending.

Interns are expected to communicate with the research team when they plan to attend an optional enrichment activity. If you are unsure of the details of any activity on the calendar, please contact with your questions.


Eighty to ninety percent of the intern’s time is spent in the lab or workplace with their mentors, but there are program-centered assignments and responsibilities that need to be completed.  All interns, regardless of the administrative source of the program they are participating in are treated the same: we try to make sure they receive the same stipend and, mostly, they have the same assignments. Assignments near the end of the program are designed to have students “bring it all together” and communicate their work in a professional way.  Workforce Development & Education will provide some technical assistance and instruction for completing the assignments; mentors are expected to provide guidance and review and approve the student’s work.

For a complete list of assignments each term, please refer to the Assignments and Deliverables webpage on the Workforce Development & Education website. If appropriate, a daily supervisor can be appointed to answer preliminary questions about writing the research paper, and gaining access to related publications that will assist in writing the Research Paper.

Before an intern submits an assignment to Workforce Development & Education or the DOE, mentors are required to approve their work. To do this, you will use the Google Form entitled “Mentor Approval Form,” which can be found on the Assignments and Deliverables webpage. You will enter in your name, the name of your intern, and select the assignment from a drop-down menu that you would like to approve. The intern will receive their following stipend if they submit their assignment on time, with approval using this method. Please email questions to

The book Scientific Writing & Communication has been provided to each intern as a writing resource; there are detailed chapters on writing each section of a research paper, grammar and word choice in science writing, finding references, generating a research poster, preparing an oral presentation, and other related topics.

The Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) website is the location at which interns participating in the SULI, CCI, and VFP programs will submit required deliverables to the U.S. Department of Energy. To access the WDTS website, the interns will use a unique username and password, which is separate from their LDAP log-in information for LBNL.

Prior to the Poster Session, interns will present to a small group of their peers, in Peer Poster Presentations.

It is recommended that the intern give an oral presentation to the research group approximately two to three weeks before the end of the term, when some preliminary results have been obtained. It is useful for the intern to learn how to prepare and give a Powerpoint presentation, in addition to developing public speaking skills. The interns will not give a presentation with slides in the internship program.

The Poster Session is held on the last week of the term. The primary purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity for communicating the results of research and to promote discussions between interns and Berkeley Lab scientists. Observers will be invited to view the interns’ research posters at the Poster Session, which provides a relaxed atmosphere conducive to the exchange of ideas and techniques between presenters and observers.


Many interns have never worked in a lab environment before, and it is very important to introduce your intern to the hazards specific to your lab in particular. In their first week, interns will be required to complete the “Safety Checklist.” In order to fill out this form, please provide interns with contact information of the Building Manager, and the location of safety-related equipment such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, Emergency Response Guides, MSDS binders, other safety binders, eye washes, chemical spill kits, etc.



WPC: All interns must be added to work activities within the Work Planning and Control system (Activity Manager) that covers the scope of the work that the interns will perform.  Interns should discuss this process with mentors via phone before they arrive at the lab.  Interns must “accept conditions” and complete all training before they are authorized to perform any work. (Please note interns will need LDAP, username and password to access Activity Manager.)


  1. Work with your intern to delineate the activities they will perform very clearly
  2. Determine the potential hazards associated with these activities
  3. Determine the correct controls to mitigate these hazards


Mentors or day-to-day supervisors are to discuss work activities with the intern, add the intern to the appropriate work activities and go over the questions and answers they may have before they arrive at the lab.  Interns should understand what work they are authorized to do at the lab, what hazards they may encounter and what controls they need to use or follow.

There are several EH&S roles involved with mentoring interns who participate in Workforce Development & Education programs:

Supervisor – Susan Brady Wells, Department Manager of Workforce Development & Education is the "Supervisor" for all interns who participate in our programs.

Activity Lead – Mentors are defined as “Activity Leads” for all interns who participate in our programs.


Please see Q&A provided by EHS regarding the roles of Supervisor and Activity Lead below:

Q: What is an Activity Lead?

A: An Activity Lead is anyone who directs, trains, and/or oversees the work and activities of one or more Workers. Activity Leads provide instruction on working safely and the precautions necessary to use equipment and facilities safely and effectively. Activity Leads may authorize Work with the concurrence of the Worker’s Supervisor.

Q: How is an Activity Lead different than a Supervisor?

A: Supervisory Employees are defined by the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) as "any individual, regardless of the job description or title, having authority in the interest of the employer to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or to effectively recommend such action, if, in connection with the foregoing, the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment. Employees whose duties are substantially similar to those of their subordinates shall not be considered to be supervisory employees."

Activity Leads direct, train and/or oversee the Work and activities of the Worker. He/she is not necessarily that individual’s Supervisor (ie, he/she may not have the additional authority to hire, transfer, suspend, or take other personnel actions). Put another way, a Supervisor always has the authority to act as the Activity Lead, but a Activity Lead does not necessarily have the authority to act as Supervisor.

Q: What are the responsibilities of an Activity Lead?

A: Activity Leads

Please work with your intern to ensure all WPC, GERT and EH&S requirements have been completed prior to beginning of internship.

For more information, tutorials and videos about Work Planning and Control (WPC) please visit