Academic & Biobusiness Alliance Internship Program
Post-Secondary Education Grant Recipient: Dr. Susan Keirstead, PhD
Grant Period: 2015-2016
Site: University of Minnesota
Biobusinesses are often looking for employees who have advanced technical and scientific training that students don't typically receive while earning a bachelor's degree, but these businesses don't always need workers with a PhD, individuals who often prefer careers as independent researchers in academia rather than the private sector. Unfortunately, there are very few master's programs that prepare students specifically to enter the biobusiness workforce.
The connections between the few existing graduate programs and biobusinesses are lacking, and students and businesses find it difficult to network with one another. Students want to be on the ground doing research firsthand in a business setting where there is product development, but the professors are usually involved in the academic research side of the field, whereby lacking the biobusiness connections that students are seeking. More intentional partnerships are needed to help place students in jobs after earning a master’s degree.
This project is funding two internships for students who have graduated with a master’s degree in stem cell biology from the University of Minnesota. This new graduate program is one of the few of its kind, and it is intended to send graduates directly into the workforce. These six-month internships place two graduates at biobusinesses in Minnesota to gain valuable work experience and potentially make connections that can lead to permanent positions in the field.
In addition to the immediate impact of the two internships funded by the grant, the internship program is also fostering long-term connections between faculty at the University of Minnesota and biobusinesses in Minnesota. These partnerships will hopefully result in more communication and job placements in the future.
Maintaining a strong economy is largely about keeping thriving businesses in Minnesota and providing them with the workforce they need. It can be difficult to recruit workers to come to Minnesota, and many states on the east and west coasts offer incentives and funding that have the potential to draw biobusinesses out of state. This grant-funded internship program supports biobusinesses in Minnesota by providing them with workers who have the qualifications needed to make the businesses thrive. It also supports Minnesota's future workforce by keeping talented graduates in the state while allowing them to establish careers that match their interests.