Everyone was very approachable and helpful, even the world reknowned scientists. I learned a great deal about my project and felt like I contributed something, my PI was very easy to talk to and gave me project details beyond what my exact duties were. I developed important and valuable laboratory skills that helped me get into graduate school. At the time I didn't enjoy it, but giving a presentation on the project I was working on to the SCBI community was great public speaking and presentation practice. The people I met really made the internship for me, including the researchers, lab staff, and my fellow interns. It was a great atmosphere for learning and I developed a sound knowledge of skills as well as confidence in myself, my abilities, and what I wanted to get out of life. When I started my internship I was fortunate enough to have a specified instructor to train me in the lab. After my first few months there, that was no longer part of her job description. Front Royal, VA isn't a booming metropolis but I rather enjoyed it. Many places to explore and the campus itself provides outdoor opportunities, and we had a lot of fun. The free housing is a great perk as well as the free parking at museums downtown with the ID badge.
For the first half of my internship I was not paid. The second half of my internship I was on a $500/month stipend. It was better than nothing but still not easy to live off of. The housing is a bit outdated but really nothing to complain about.
Advice to Potential Interns
What you get out of this internship depends on what you put into it. Go in ready to work and learn. Some days in the lab cab be monotonous and intern work is never glamorous, but that doesn't mean it's not important. Don't be afraid to ask questions and talk with the researchers because they are usually very willing to help. Make friends with all the interns, even the ones outside of your department because it will make your social life outside of the lab so much better.
Advice to Management
An increase in stipend would be nice but many internships are without pay. It would also be nice to have someone to train interns again and to run the internship program as a whole. I remember when I applied, I couldn't even remember how I had chanced upon the application. Other people ask me how to find the internship and seem to struggle to locate one online or find a name to contact for questions. Even as an intern it would be nice to have a contact for general concerns. For example on what to pack when moving to Front Royal, what to expect, where to go that sort of thing.