No Matter What: Get an Internship
by Adam Wilson
August 3, 2011
looking for your first job in a biotech/pharm/biomedical field there is one piece of advice that is more important than anything else anyone will tell you. Get an internship no matter what.
An internship is a way to get used to working in a professional setting in your chosen career. It is also an introduction to new techniques. It results in new knowledge being gained, and will shave months off your training when you eventually find full-time employment. They are fun, interesting and, in our industries, they actually pay you. There is no downside to getting an internship except the time and effort taken to find it.
The shocking thing is that students neglect this duty far too often. Similar to how when searching for a job, the initial goal should be to get an interview, you have to consider finding an internship as being a prerequisite for getting that future job interview.
So why do students neglect this important step in their careers? Often times they think their degree speaks for itself and will get them the interviews. WRONG. Unless you went to MIT, Caltech, Harvard or a few other schools, your school is irrelevant unless you have internship experience. Sure, if you meet the internship criteria, your schooling can come into play in a big way. But a person coming out of Iowa State with an internship will get more looks than a person coming out of Northwestern without one. Guaranteed.
The good news is, it's not that difficult to find an internship because so many people are lazy about it thus reducing your competition. You should apply with all the big companies, then do some old-fashioned hard work to dig up obscure internships at dynamic small companies. That's a big misunderstanding that students don't realize - small companies do hire interns. We list hundreds of small companies that hire interns right here on BioPharmGuy. They will generally post them between February and April. Many even post at the last minute in May once they finalize their budgets for the third quarter.
As a former student, I know it's much more fun to party and play video games than to look for an internship. But really, do you want to live in your parents' basement for the three years after graduating or do you want your own place where you can have friends over? That's one of many decisions you're indirectly making by not finding an internship. Put forth the effort and results will follow.