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064: A PhD Internship Will Help You Get a Job

You might think internships are the domain of business students and undergrads.  You’re training every day in a lab – why would you need more experiential learning?

The short answer is that your laboratory training is a great internship if you want to go on to a faculty position at a major research university.

But what if you want to use your scientific training to craft policy and legislation in your state government?

Or what if you want to work with a Contract Research Organization and help shepherd new drugs through clinical trials?

The Best of the BEST

The NIH recognized this gap between the current training regimen an the job prospects of biomedical grads.  They cite a 2012 study by the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group that found only 20-25% of graduating biomedical trainees went on to faculty positions. That means 75-80% did something else with their careers.

To bridge this gap, they introduced the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program. BEST provides funding and support to 17 research institutions to experimentally improve career development.

Patrick Brandt, PhD. Director of Career Development and Training at UNC Chapel Hill

This week, we talk with Patrick Brandt, PhD, about the program he administers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The UNC program includes funding that allows students to leave their dissertation labs for a short time to work directly with industry or government agencies.

Dr. Brandt tells us about a few of the internships recently completed by trainees, and shares some tips for getting a spot in the program.  He also discusses some of the ways students convince their PIs that time away from lab is worthwhile.

Dr. Brandt has noticed that students participating in the intern program are highly successful at getting a job after graduation.  And it’s not just jobs with the intern host company.

Sure, an internship provides experience, CV fodder, and network of contacts, but Dr. Brandt thinks the real value lies elsewhere.  He believes interns find greater success due to a surge in confidence the feel after working ‘in the field.’  They gain focus and can speak the language of their target industry, and that goes a long way when you’re trying to land a job.

It’s beginning to look a lot like New Year

Sure, the holiday season is far behind us, but no one told Winter Storm Helena that swept through the southern US this past week.  We were snowed in for a few days, and celebrated with New Belgium’s Accumulation.  It’s a white IPA that would be a great introduction for your friends who aren’t sure about hoppy beers.

Plus, after a few sips, you’ll feel warmer!

And here’s a link to the crazy robotic moth to fuel your next nightmare:

Insect-controlled Robot: A Mobile Robot Platform to Evaluate the Odor-tracking Capability of an Insect

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