Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces 2011 Internship Challenge Program

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces 2011 Internship Challenge Program
Workforce Development Program will provide internship opportunities for Massachusetts students and recent graduates in summer 2011
For Immediate Release:        Date:  January 7, 2011
Contact:  Angus G. McQuilken, Life Sciences Center VP for Communications
Phone: (617) 921-7749   Email: [email protected]
Waltham, MA - The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center today announced the launch of the Center's Internship Challenge Program for the summer of 2011, the third year of a workforce development program focused on enhancing the talent pipeline for Massachusetts life sciences companies.  The program will provide paid internship opportunities at life sciences companies for up to 170 students and recent college graduates who are considering career opportunities in the life sciences.
Last year the program drew more than 900 applicants, and the Center matched 170 students and recent graduates with internships at 94 life sciences companies across the Commonwealth.  At the conclusion of last year's program at least 37 of the interns were hired into either full or part-time positions with their sponsoring companies.
"Life sciences companies that move here or expand here always cite our talented workforce as one of their main reasons for choosing Massachusetts," said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Center. "The Center's Internship Challenge is a key investment in the ongoing strength of our life sciences workforce in Massachusetts.  Given its past success, we are confident that this year's program will provide terrific opportunities for both the interns and the sponsoring companies, and will serve to further develop our pipeline of life sciences talent."
The Internship Challenge provides interns with practical, "hands on" experience that prepares them to step into the workforce ready to meet the job requirements of life sciences employers.  In order to participate, students must either reside in, attend, or have attended school in Massachusetts.  This year's program will be open to students who have completed at least their sophomore year in college.
 
"The Center's internship program was invaluable for our company last summer," said Barbara Fox, CEO of Wayland-based Avaxia Biologics.  "We hired an outstanding intern from Bridgewater State University who provided valuable hands in the laboratory at a critical period for our young company. I believe it was also an excellent opportunity for our intern to learn about the biotech field before starting a Ph.D. program this past fall."
 
 "Our two interns, both Chemistry majors at WPI, were big assets in the lab, and we were thrilled that the Center facilitated the entire process," said Dr. Jeffrey Kiplinger, President of Worcester-based Averica Discovery Services, Inc.   We found suitable resumes immediately, interviewed six candidates and chose two very rapidly, and they started work the next week. This is probably the best organized and most transparent state program I've ever seen.  Best of all, it gives good students useful work experience and good companies, especially small ones like mine, a boost. What a great use of funds!"
 
"The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center's Internship Challenge program was fantastic," said Janice Ye, who was hired as a Lead Research Scientist with Cambridge-based InVivo Therapeutics after participating in the 2009 program. "It was a very easy process to go through, and my experience working with the Center's staff was great. The program helped me a great deal, and I wouldn't be where I am today without it."
 
"The Internship Challenge allowed me to work for Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotech start-up, during its infancy," said Matt Gethers, a recent MIT graduate with a degree in biological engineering.
"At this early stage of development, scarce funds could have prevented them from hiring me. Working for them during this period gave me the chance to make significant contributions to several exciting projects and allowed me a great introduction to the challenges of founding a start-up. The experience has encouraged me to bring my life sciences background to the business sector."
 
"This internship opportunity was vital to my advancement as a professional scientist," said Bethany Verrilli, a 2010 graduate of Bridgewater State University with a degree in biochemistry who interned last summer at Avaxia Biologics.  "The ability to work hands-on with professionals in the life sciences field was a wonderful experience."
Students who are selected for the Internship Challenge will be paid up to $15 per hour for up to 12 weeks of work.  Companies with 100 or fewer employees will be eligible to receive reimbursement of student stipends.  Larger companies are welcome to participate but will not receive reimbursement from the Center.  Host companies must commit to providing a dedicated mentor and meaningful internship opportunity that ties to the academic focus of eligible students.  Ten percent of the program's resources will be targeted at internship opportunities for community college students.
The Center has opened a web-based interface where students can post resumes and cover letters and host companies can match skills with their needs.  Participating companies will contact and interview candidates, select interns for their programs, and notify the Center of their desire to provide an internship to a qualified student.  Individuals interested in applying or companies interested in participating can learn more at www.masslifesciences.com/grants/challenge.html.
 
Massachusetts college students and recent college graduates can find statewide resources to build their lives and careers here in the Commonwealth at www.massitsallhere.com/stayhere.
 
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Contact information: Angus G. McQuilken (Vice President for Communications), Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, 1000 Winter Street, Suite 2900, Waltham, MA 02451

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