Skip to content ↓
amber avatar

A day at Seaborg Technologies by Amber V. '24

interning at a nuclear startup in Denmark

The day in question is Thursday, one day before the end of my internship.



This morning I woke up nervous as hell, mainly because I didn’t know where to buy cake. I also had an end-of-internship presentation to give, and my mentor had invited 30 people.


We have a tradition at my company, see: every time someone has a birthday, an anniversary, or goes on vacation, they bring cake to work. They send a notification in the social channel of Microsoft Teams. In my office, the engineers all look at each other; “Cake?” We scramble from our seats and scurry to the fourth floor. Usually we are the first ones to arrive.

As many people go on vacation in summertime, this happens nearly every day.

This is my last week here, so I had to pay it forward. Issue is, bakeries close early in Denmark, and I hadn’t been able to find anywhere with cake that was open past six yesterday. Luckily for me, however, there was a bakery on the way to work. 


I showered quickly, put on one of my three collared shirts,01 this company is chill enough that I usually wear rock T-shirts and jeans without rips. chugged espresso from a can,02 the BOLD cans, in fact, which taste much better when they cost 10 krones (~$1.50) at the supermarket than they do for $5 in the MIT vending machines and went out to my bike.

We bike everywhere in Copenhagen — the bike lanes are wide, and the cars all know who’s boss. It’s fantastic. Except when you need to carry cake to work on your bike, then you sort of wish for a car.

a lot of bikes

a whole herd of bikes


I found the bakery! It’s a cute place not too far from work. There was no cake, but plenty of baklava, so I ordered two big boxes. As the baker filled the boxes, he offered me a sample. Then his co-worker came out with a pan of cheese-filled pastries fresh out of the oven, handed me one swathed in napkins, and warned me not to burn my mouth. 

10/10 would recommend. 



I arrive03 is this blog in past tense? Is it in present? I don’t know. I am an engineer now. It’s lucky I remember what a semi-colon is. at work. My co-workers are hanging out, stealing each other’s swivel chairs, designing a nuclear reactor. The very cool process engineering manager, who I greatly admire, tells me she is coming to my presentation! This is exciting but also mildly terrifying, because in my last practice round I said ‘um’ and ‘like’ roughly seventy times. 

I take my laptop and head upstairs, where I tuck myself in a mutebox, which is like an insulated telephone booth designed for taking zoom calls.04 see I even use ‘like’ in blogs! I open up my presentation and start talking.

My mentor is quite nice. I already knew this, but it was proven to me again: yesterday was the first time in my life that I gave a practice presentation and didn’t receive feedback to speak slower.

I suppose it’s also possible that I simply managed to speak more slowly, but uh… I doubt it.05 my first weekend here, I was talking to someone who said to me, 'I don’t mean to be racist, but,' and I nodded, like, ‘uh-huh, go ahead, bro, I’ll text my friends whatever you say,’ until he finished, 'but you talk fast, for an American.' I cracked up and assured him that most Americans also thought I talk fast. Then I texted my friends about it.

I’ve had more sleep than I had yesterday — I’m still recovering from an all-nighter I pulled on Saturday in Paris — and the words seemed to come more easily. I slowed down, pointed to all the graphs, remembered to breathe in between.

Before I knew it, the minutes ticked to 10, and it was time to go present.



My internship at Seaborg, a nuclear reactor startup, has been centered around finding good insulation materials to shield the reactor core. The design process is in the works, and it’s been interesting to see how all the engineers work together to orchestrate one very complex system. My work has been just one tiny piece of that, but even so, I’ve met with several different people to discuss what I’m doing and what the ramifications of my project will mean for them: some need space to put pipes in, others need to know how much heat will penetrate my shielding.

Everyone I’d met with showed up to see the final project. There were others, too: the cool process engineer, some upper-level engineers, and friends who work in process or chemistry but showed up to support me. 

I took a deep breath and talked about what I did. I’d written a model to analyze heat transfer with different materials, and I’d written a colorful flowchart to show that. I talked through the chart, and my process for choosing and recommending insulators.

Although I didn’t say so at the presentation, this was not only my first large coding project, but my first time presenting code to a group. One of my biggest takeaways from this internship was my disillusionment with code, in a positive way. Being left to my own devices to write a model, I was able to forget my assumptions about coding and instead see MatLab as a tool to be leveraged.

After the presentation, people hit me with questions, many of which I hadn’t considered before. Had I thought about how this would affect water flow? Could my model be extrapolated to encompass de-commissioning the reactor? What about adding coating around the insulation to change the emissivity?

After digging deep into the minutiae of this project, I felt like I was coming up for air, remembering again how my insulation project connected to many other systems. Two questions bounced off each other, and the engineers who asked them started discussing a heat transfer system I hadn’t heard of yet. The system we’re building here is so big, and I want to dig deeper in, to understand more. There’s much to build, and a lot for me to learn.



cake with 'seaborg' written in frosting

Cake from a week ago, when Seaborg had a birthday.

Presentation done, I offered everyone baklava.

Then I went back to the office and wrote down the questions and comments everyone had. One of my co-workers, Robin, offered an idea for how to simplify the model, so I poked around with that for a bit, then looked over my mentor’s edits on my project report.



Lunchtime! My company caters lunch, and on Thursdays we get cake. Like official, at-lunch cake, in addition to the cake people bring in. Today it was banana bread, but in the same shape as cake. 

A few friends and I ate on the rooftop. The conversation started at three-meter long alligators and then veered into leeches, which we sustained as a topic for the duration of our meal. I do not know why.


On a normal day, I’d go in, turn my sitting desk into a standing desk, and start paging through articles looking for specific thermal properties of a material, or work on my model in MatLab. On this day, however, my second-to-last, we were all joking around. A lot. The company is hosting a camping trip this weekend, and half my office is coming. Summer is sinking in.

I fixed the finals edits on my report and turned it in. Then I went to wrapping up my MISTI reports, until 3:30, when I heard that a co-worker had brought his labradoodle to work.



It was a very good labradoodle! He could shake hands and lay down and even roll over. Work ends between 4 and 5,06 “it’s but today my work ended abruptly at 3:30. I hung out with the labradoodle until end of day.



I bike to the beach with my co-workers Robin and Christina. We go to swim in the ocean 1-3 times per week, but this was the first time in two months that I remembered to bring a bathing suit and a towel. 

Another thing I like about this company is that I can be the young intern who is distinctly swimming in a bra and underwear and then shivering in the sun trying to dry off, surrounded by my overwhelmingly male engineering department, and no one gives me looks or treats me differently afterward. 

In the water, we talk about the reactor and how it’s going, and about Robin’s vacation in Barcelona and Christina’s unfinished tattoo. Christina finds the corpse of a jellyfish and we throw it at each other until it falls apart.



I get home and sit in a patch of sunlight from my west-facing window. As the sun falls, the patch climbs higher, and I have to keep moving up my floor. I read a Sylvia Plath poem aloud — I’ve been doing this every day, holding the words in my mouth, making myself slow down and digest every line. I congratulate myself on my dedication to arts and culture, then open Instagram and scroll.



Running time! There’s a cute woods by my apartment. My legs are angry because yesterday I did squats. 

After running, I stop to pick up protein bars for the camping trip. I enter the store with very little hope, as Denmark doesn’t seem to have the same market for over-priced, pseudo-health bars as the States. I wind up finding some, though, which is sick.



I meet with a friend at Berkeley over zoom and we discuss her start-up project based around fuel cells. It sounds quite exciting. As she talks about it, I start to think of the processes and systems she’ll need, and how much I’d learn while building something like that.



I pack for the camping trip! We’ll only be gone til Sunday, but the weather in Denmark is nefariously tricky, so I pack clothes to account for if the sunny forecast grows cold. I also pack a birthday present for Christina, a bottle of wine from what I hope is a classy brand.

I jot down some notes for a poem I’m planning to write when I get back, just in time for a weekly poetry group I attend with other MIT students.07 organized by Alan!


10:00 pm

I hop in the shower and then heat up leftovers for dinner. I think that at some point in my life, I will graduate from eating like a stereotypical bachelor from the 80’s, but it’s not high on my priority list. Despite that, I did learn to cook a new dish here! It’s curry! It currently takes me like 45 minutes but I think in the future that will change! Anyway, it’s pretty good, and I have leftovers enough for three meals.


11:00 pmbook of Sylvia Plath poems and Blue Earth Review magazine

I read some more poetry and lil short stories from Blue Earth Review, a literary magazine the size of two phones laid next to each other. The window is cracked open, and chilly air flows in. I’m huddled on the bed, knees tucked to my chest, too tired now to read each word aloud. I think of the last time I’d written anything, only a week ago, and find myself reaching for words.

Finishing this internship is bittersweet. I’m excited to have a few weeks to myself, to work on my own projects, but I’m going to miss the community here, which I found myself becoming part of. Hopefully I’ll see the friends I made at work around Copenhagen.

I’m going to enjoy the last moments of it. I fall asleep, ready to go camping the next day.

  1. back to text
  2. back to text
  3. back to text
  4. back to text
  5. back to text
  6. back to text
  7. back to text