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What We Expect & What You Should Expect


It is important that everyone in a group is able to get along. You don’t have to become best friends with everyone you meet here, but you have to show courtesy and respect to your students and colleagues, pull your weight with lab chores, and behave professionally. A research lab works or fails based on the lab as a whole rather than the individual efforts. Therefore, we expect you to be good colleagues to others in the lab by helping to maintain lab morale, lab organization & hygiene, and helping your lab mates just like they will help you. On a practical level, we are all respectful of others’ projects; this includes not touching other people’s experiments or moving things unless you’ve specifically been told it’s okay. Most people don’t have offices at HIMB and we need to be respectful of others’ workspace.  If someone in another lab invites you into that lab, by all means visit and learn about their work, but don’t wander through another lab without being invited.


If the work you’re doing needs resources of some kind, such as lab supplies, and you don’t have your own source of funding (see the section on funding opportunities you can apply for), make sure to discuss this with your mentor in advance.  Different groups may have different policies about how they manage their resources.  In general, you should not purchase supplies yourself in the expectation of being reimbursed.  Advance planning will allow us to make things work best for everyone.



Feel free to ask questions, we like talking about our work, and you’ll learn something new! Having a conversation with someone (anyone) will teach you something and could lead to future opportunities.  Reading some papers by your mentor and the lab you’ll be working in will help you get some overview of the projects and the larger picture, and may give you an idea of the kinds of things you might be doing and how your work fits in. You’ll probably work primarily with one mentor, although occasionally interns work with multiple projects and mentors.  Don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing when you start; your mentor wants you to be successful and will train you in what you need to do.  Focus on learning, that’s a big part of why you’re here.



Mentors look for are a good work ethic, interest in the work, willingness to learn, and a positive attitude.  We expect you to take your work with us seriously and treat this like you would treat a regular job. Some interns eventually become graduate students carrying out research at HIMB or are hired here, and many benefit from letters of recommendation and professional connections that they’ve formed as an intern. If you’ll be living on Moku o Loʻe, remember that this is a small island and news gets around. Your mentor is responsible for you the entire time you’re physically on the island – your behavior reflects on them as well as on you during that time. Think twice if something you do on your time off, either on island or off, could get in the way of your working relationships or damage your professional reputation. Also, University of Hawaiʻi sites including HIMB and the Lilipuna pier and parking lot are tobacco-free and drug-free.



You and your mentor will decide on a work schedule for you, and you are expected to respect that schedule. If you plan to make additional commitments of your time – for example, getting a part-time job – let your mentor know up front so they know how to plan. If there is an unavoidable emergency (e.g. accident, sudden illness), let your mentor know as soon as possible so they know whether/when you’ll be coming. If you don’t let your mentor know and this happens several times, you may be asked to leave. If you’ll be living off Moku o Loʻe, you must have reliable transportation to/from Kāneʻohe to get to HIMB.

Full-time work is 40 hours per week. Depending on the kind of work you’ll be doing (e.g. coral spawning, some fieldwork), some weeks may be very intense – please set up a schedule with your mentor so you can also take time off when work is lighter.


If you see something that you feel is not safe, or you don’t have proper training to do something, please say so, and let us know why. In addition to your mentor, some groups have an intern/volunteer coordinator, and HIMB also has an HR representative. If there are any issues you’d like to discuss, you can talk to your mentor, a faculty member, an intern/volunteer coordinator, or the HR representative. It’s better to bring things up when they’re smaller and easier to address than to wait until a problem becomes larger and harder.



  • Keep safe
  • Be punctual and dependable
  • Act responsibly and conscientiously
  • Work well with others
  • Communicate when you need information or assistance
  • Set priorities
  • Identify, prioritize, and solve problems
  • Be able to work independently when required
  • Contribute to a good working environment for everyone
  • Be respectful of all people and property at HIMB
  • Have a wonderful, successful internship!