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I have a multihop SSH connection to my lab PC for when I am working away, I cannot store the SSH keys on the intermediate steps if I am to use a SSH key.

<laptop> ---> <external_server>  ---> <internal_server> ---> <lab_pc>

Is it possible to have the identity files stored on the laptop and not on the intermediate servers for logging in to the internal_server and lab PC or must they be stored on the previous hop?

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example of .ssh/config :

Host externalserver.university-a.edu
    User user-external

Host internalserver.university-a.edu
    ProxyCommand ssh externalserver.university-a.edu nc -w10 internalserver.university-a.edu 22
    User user-internal

Host labpc.university-a.edu
    ProxyCommand ssh internalserver.university-a.edu nc -w10 labpc.university-a.edu 22

you can replace in some case :

ProxyCommand ssh hosta.example.com nc -w10 hostb.example.com 22

by

ProxyCommand ssh hosta.example.com -W hostb.example.com:22
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