Calling All Scientists: 7 Things You Need to Know About Paid Biotech Internships

Calling All Scientists: 7 Things You Need to Know About Paid Biotech Internships

January 19, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

As never before, universities are encouraging students to get internships. Sometimes they’re unpaid, but other times you can obtain important job experience with an internship and actually get paid too.

Here’s some great opportunities and tips on how to get a paying gig.

The University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) has developed a paid internship program for UB students, undergraduate or graduate, that offers part-time internships that pay about $13 per hour—by the university.

Sandra Small, a science education manager at CBLS, told the UB News Center, “We want the companies to learn how great our students are, and to have that long-term onsite interview with the hope that they hire them at the end. We also want to give our students an opportunity to learn about the companies in our region.”

A Broader Array of Internships

The University at Buffalo, of course, isn’t the only institution to be offering life science internships. A simple Google search using the terms “internships for life science undergrad and graduate students” shows numerous programs including summer internship programs at Arizona State University, George Washington University, and for mathematicians, the National Security Agency Director’s Summer Program, just to name a few.

A number of biotech companies also offer internships. A spokesperson for Roche told BioSpace, “Roche offers many different opportunities like Trainee programs (Management Start Up, Regulatory Affairs Trainee Programme, just to name a few) or positions where you need a life science background but work on different topics in Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics (like Business Development, Partnering, Investor Relations, Communications…).”

Natalie Griffith,

Regeneron’s senior manager of University Relations, told BioSpace, “We like to start these relationships early through internship programs for students of all ages—high school, college, graduate and even post-doctoral. Mentorship and hands-on training are key focuses for all our employees, so we think this is a great place for recent graduates.”

University at Buffalo’s Focus

The University at Buffalo’s internship program is quite broad, and includes not just internships for life science and engineering students, but business students, accounting, marketing, information technology, web design and others. In terms of companies, the program was built to accept 20 life science companies and 20 materials science and advanced manufacturing companies. But that number has grown in the four years of its existence.

The University at Buffalo program currently had 44 companies that offer 54 positions in the spring semester.

The companies interview and hire the interns, who are paid $13 per hour for 144 to 180 hours per semester, or about 12 to 15 hours per week. Some of the participating companies subsidize the program so students can put in more hours.

Of those students who have participated, 25 percent have been hired full-time or part-time by those companies.

The program is only offered during the spring semester. Companies involved are recruited in early September by CBLS and UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics. The next time around for companies will be September 2017. Companies interested can contact:

Finding Internships

The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), which has 18,000 members in 90 countries worldwide, maintains a lengthy list of companies with internship and/or co-op positions. They range from companies like Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer , to Agilent Technologies , Medtronic , and the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Student Employment Program. also has a database of internships at biopharma companies.

Seven Tips to Getting an Internship

Acquiring an internship is just like landing a job.

1. So, have a good resume. Not only should a resume be free of typos and grammatical problems, it should have bullet points that include technical skills, and a focus in each job description not only of the tasks and duties, but key accomplishments.

2. Practice up on your interviewing skills. Even if it means doing a mock interview with a friend or relative.

3. Do a little bit of research prior to the interview so you know what the company does. Be curious, ask questions.

4. Network. Even if you’re an undergraduate, do you know anybody else who has interned with a company? Do any of your professors have contacts in the industry that they can refer you to?

5. It’s not too early to have a LinkedIn page. Make it a professional one.

6. Oh yeah, and about that, social media. Take a hard look at your social media presence, Twitter and Facebook. Yes, potential employers (and current employers) do look to see who you are. Although you may not need your Twitter and Facebook presence be solely professional, keep in mind that it’s a reflection of who you are, and if you come off as particularly immature or offensive—whether racist, sexist (or sexual), political or otherwise — it can play a factor.

7. Be aggressive in applying for a number of opportunities, and don’t hold out for the perfect job. Assuming there is such a thing, you’re unlikely to find it in an internship setting. It’s all about learning skills, developing a professional work history, and making contacts within the industry.

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