Finding and Applying to Life Science Internships
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent one too many summers dilly-dallying your days away, not really sure of what to do with yourself. Sure, I’ve had the odd extremely productive summer with some work experience, lab shadowing, and all the good stuff I needed to write a decent personal statement, and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel with my family (something we do every year). And yet, I feel like I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to be taking the next step to spending my summers in a more productive way.
Since I am on the MBio course (meaning the 4 year masters), I’ll be doing a year in industry in my fourth year. That means that I am not in a place to be applying for any of those opportunities this year, as many of my course mates are doing. Instead, I am focussing my attention on this upcoming summer of 2021. Looking for internships, scouring the internet for every opportunity available, and trying not to stray too far from Life-science related work experience.
My ideal internship would probably include working in a lab for 10 weeks or working in a company that has ties to the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. Most companies that offer internships for 10 weeks, however, don’t offer lab-based ones, at least not to second-year undergrads, and for good reason. It would take a couple of weeks just to teach us young interns all the methodology and skills, which doesn’t leave much time for actual work.
When deciding what internships to apply for, you might get to a point where you’re considering switching to a law or finance degree, because of the sheer number of opportunities in those specific subjects. Don’t give up on your search just yet though! I’ve got some tips here to help 🙂
Firstly, it’s important to understand that for your first internship, especially this early on, you may need to compromise for experience in a direction you won’t necessarily want to pursue in the future. Remember, work experience is good, regardless of what it is. For example, take the company Proctor & Gamble – They have leads that can tie directly into pharmaceuticals, my field of interest. But, for internships, they are only offering corporate positions, such as HR and Marketing ones. Although it isn’t STEM-based, this internship is still a good opportunity to get involved in a company that could later present me with the chance to work in my field of interest. Also, working in HR gives me a new skill set to add to my CV for the future, making me a more desirable employee.
There are of course other more science based opportunities. Here are a couple of links to sites where you can look up stem specific job opportunities.
- https://www.gradcracker.com/ – It will show you internships that accept students from your degree stream, in both the scientific and non-scientific fields
- https://www.ratemyplacement.co.uk/science-and-research – For a little bit more specific searching, this gives more science-related ones.
- https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships – Here’s a third place that is good for starting your search
- https://www.internly.co.uk/ – create a profile and it helps employers find you, as well as helping you find internships
There are also going to be options to work with the NHS, finding some medical work experience, through hospitals or clinics, and working on summer research at uni. These are just a few examples, but I want to stay more focussed on internships, since that is what I am applying for.
Another good point to remember is that deadlines for internships vary. You may have friends applying to internships in October and November, which can feel intimidating. Don’t stress though. Many life-science opportunities aren’t even available until term 2/3 time for applications.
When you do have the deadlines, there are key things to looks at:
- Does the job require a 1 or 2 page CV?
- Make sure you describe any work experience or school experience in a way that portrays your skills, without you having to directly say the skill
- Job Role Specificity
- If applying to different positions, you may want to submit a different version of your CV to each employer
- One could pay more attention to any corporate skills you have from previous experience, for example, if applying to an HR internship
- Then for a lab-based role, highlight any lab experience, that shows that you can work in a team, and are a quick learner, and know how to manage your way around a lab
- When you’ve sent off your CV and application forms, you may be rejected, and this is something that you should not be disappointed by.
- If you are rejected, try and understand why, so next time you apply you can do better.
- If you do get an interview, then it’s time to start prep!
- Get to know the employer. It’s important to show an interest not only in the role, but also in the employer, as a company is only as good as its employees, and the more you can show that you want to work there, the better.
- Make sure you are up to date with current events that relate. For example, if you get an internship at an oncology lab, have an idea of what types of oncological research are going on globally, as well as at that lab specifically.
- Be ready for multiple rounds of interviews.
- DON’T lie on your CV, because they often ask you to explain aspects of it a little more, and if you lie, that won’t go down too well.
Ultimately, don’t stress when looking for summer internships. Keep checking website and companies, because you’ll be surprised at how late some of them open applications. Keep your mind open to non Science related ones, because these can be just as useful, especially if you know you are going to be doing placements later.
Do start looking at opportunities, and having an idea. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help! You’ll be surprised how eager a lot of people will be to help you get good opportunities!