Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces Launch of 2016-17 Internship Challenge

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Travis McCready

WALTHM, MA – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced the launch of the 2016-17 Internship Challenge program.  This year’s program will feature a $700,000 increase in funding, an increase in the maximum reimbursable pay rate for interns from $15/hour to $17/hour, and a new incentive for long-term hiring by participating companies.

Under the new hiring incentive companies that offer a long-term position to a participating intern will be able to receive funding for a replacement intern.

Travis McCready
Travis McCready

The Internship Challenge program links college students and recent graduates with paid internship opportunities at life sciences companies across Massachusetts.  Eligible college students and recent graduates can apply online through the MLSC’s website for an internship with a life sciences company registered to host interns. Companies review candidates through a web-based interface in which they can match skills with their needs. Upon conclusion of the internship, the MLSC reimburses companies for stipends paid to their interns.

Since the program first launched in 2009, the MLSC has facilitated the placement of nearly 2,280 interns with more than 500 companies. Many of these interns have indicated that their MLSC internship helped them decide that they would like to pursue a career in the life sciences. Nearly 25% of interns have been offered full or part-time jobs at the conclusion of their internships.

“The MLSC’s Internship Challenge is our state’s premier STEM internship program, providing hundreds of growing life sciences companies with scientifically proficient talent, and giving hundreds of students and recent graduates a pathway to life sciences employment every year,” said Travis McCready, President & CEO of the MLSC.  “It is a direct pipeline between our world leading biopharma and medical device industries and our state’s community colleges, state colleges, and public and private higher education institutions. We are proud that employers have relied heavily on our program to fulfill their scientific and workforce needs in years’ past, and based on demand, this year we have added additional resources to make available additional opportunities.”

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.  Interns must be Massachusetts residents or attend a Massachusetts college/university and be completing at least their sophomore year prior to the start of the internship. Students enrolled in a two-year/community college/certificate program, students pursuing a Master’s Degree, and recent graduates that completed their degree/certificate within the past year are also eligible.

“As a participant in the MLSC Internship Challenge, Ras Labs was able to secure key product development support prior to our ability to hire additional members to the team,” said Eric Sandberg, CEO of Ras Labs. “Ras Labs had the opportunity to work with a highly skilled and dedicated scientist over the course of the summer, and was given the time to make it possible to hire her at the conclusion of the internship. The MLSC Internship Challenge gives young scientists and start-ups the opportunity to evaluate working relationships that may not otherwise be possible. I would highly recommend this program.”

In addition to exposing local life sciences companies to top-rate talent, the program provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and bioinformatics industry sectors, and to gain exposure to an entrepreneurial environment.

After receiving an Associate’s Degree from Quincy College, Taissah Prosper joined Cambridge-based STC Biologics through the MLSC Internship Challenge to help the company with its operations.  She was quickly offered a full-time role as Operations Manager after her training was completed. “I was given an opportunity of a lifetime to advance my career at STC Biologics. To hold an Operations Manager position at such a young age still shocks me. Because of MLSC support, STC was able to give me the chance to prove myself and acquire new skills to serve in this managerial role.” Said Prosper. While working at STC, she is pursuing a BS degree at Boston University.  STC Biologics is a biotechnology company, founded in 2009, with capabilities in both biologics development and development of targeted liposomal formulations.

“The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has created a critical pathway that pays enormous dividends for students and companies across the Commonwealth,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “More than 400 UMass students have followed this path and have obtained internships with life science companies since this program was established. We view this program and partnership with great enthusiasm, and see UMass and the MLSC continuing to work together on many fronts to strengthen and advance the state’s innovation economy.”​

“The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Internship Challenge is an example of what we are trying to do more of in the Baker-Polito administration. The internships give students hands-on training so they are able to step into the workforce prepared to meet employers’ demand for skilled workers,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker II, said. “We know that employers have a difficult time finding qualified skilled workers. We need more programs around the state like the Internship Challenge to address the skills gap.”

Students who are selected for the Internship Challenge this year will be paid up to $17 per hour for a total of up to $8,160. Companies will be reimbursed this amount upon conclusion of the internship. Companies with 100 or fewer employees in Massachusetts (or up to 250 globally) are eligible to receive reimbursement of intern wages, including any payroll taxes.  Larger companies are welcome to participate and host unsubsidized interns.  Host companies must commit to providing a dedicated mentor and meaningful internship opportunity.

Individuals interested in applying or companies interested in participating can learn more at www.masslifesciences.com/programs/internship/.

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