MichBio Offering Science Internships

October 20, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — College students interested in learning more about a career in health sciences have a brand new option to look at as an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit organization has expanded its internship program into West Michigan.

The BioConnections Internship Program (BCIP) offered by MichBio — which represents bioscience companies and service providers and academic and research institutions — helps place undergraduate and graduate students from a number of disciplines into positions with life science firms.

In the past, MichBio has only offered BCIP to firms in Washtenaw County.

But this year, and for the first time, MichBio is bringing its program to Grand Rapids to help find interns for local companies that have neither the time or money to do so on their own.

"We help the emerging life science companies, the start-ups, to do executive searches and general recruiting to help them find interns," said Andrea Kelly, BCIP program director for MichBio.

"We will work with the universities and work with the small companies to help them develop a position, if they don't have a need. If they have a need, then we just go with the universities," she added. "Usually an intern is local. We don't take someone from Ann Arbor and put them in Grand Rapids."

Kelly, who was in Grand Rapids last week explaining the program to university officials, said the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has funded BioConnections with a three-year $1.1 million grant.

Part of that money goes toward paying a portion of an intern's salary.

"We subsidize 25 percent of a salary for up to 16 weeks. On average, that can be $4,000 per job, and the number of positions is as demand allows," she said.

"It's an interesting situation because a lot of these companies need to be educated about internships and it's very easy for them, through our program, to find the right people and we help pay for them."

Chosen interns don't necessarily have to be majoring in health education.

Kelly said BCIP looks for students in many fields including business.

Last summer, she said BioConnections put an MBA student into an internship with a life science firm, right along with those who were studying organic chemistry.

"It goes all over, from business to the very technical," Kelly said.

There is a liquid ventilator intern at MC3 and some are in administration and marketing. So basically BioConnections is trying to help the small, entrepreneurial life science company and give them an edge," she added.

MichBio will help fill as many internships for a firm as it possibly can during a year, but can't provide funding for more than two interns per company every 12 months.

Only Michigan-based companies can participate in BioConnections.

MichBio is also busy setting up student chapters at 14 colleges across the state including Grand Valley University and Western Michigan University.

Kelly said her organization provides each school with a campus sponsor and all the paperwork, such as by-laws and details on how to set up a chapter.

"We're recruiting students to set it up," she said. "Once they have it all set up, we will help them get speakers to come to their chapter.

"They'll become members of MichBio and be able to come to our MichBio Expo, which is going to be in Detroit next fall," said Kelly.

The plan is to hold a student career-day expo at the MichBio Expo next year. MichBio hopes to have all the student chapters up and running by Thanksgiving break.

"But it might not start up until the next term just because it takes a little while to set it up on certain campuses."

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