Cramer, J.M., Hamilton, P.T. 2017; An Internship Might Not Be Enough: Enhancing Bioscience Industry Job Readiness through Practicum Experience. J Microbiol Biol Educ.18:1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1248.
ABSTRACT: In contrast to the narrowing of options in academic careers, the bioscience industry offers robust employment opportunities for STEM-trained workers, especially those who display both scientific and business talent. Unfortunately, traditional science programs typically lack curricular features that develop this type of worker. The North Carolina State University Master of Microbial Biotechnology (MMB) program facilitates industry-specific experiential learning to fill this training gap. Similar programs often rely on a single industry internship to provide students relevant work experience, but completion of one internship might not suffice to position students for employment in a highly competitive job market. The MMB program requires students to complete an internship and three practicum projects in an industry setting, to promote development of key skills in a variety of areas, to build confidence in the ability to perform initial job duties, and to establish a more extensive work history in industry. In this Perspective we discuss an unmet need in undergraduate and graduate STEM education that can be filled by incorporating a similar set of industry-specific work experiences for students who desire to transition from academe into the life science industry.
ABSTRACT: Bioscience industry companies need workers with science backgrounds who can view industry-related problems from a business perspective. Unfortunately, training necessary to develop this type of worker is not typically embedded in the curricula of traditional science programs. The NC State University Master of Microbial Biotechnology (MMB) program emerged to fill this training gap. During each of the program’s four semesters, students complete Industry Case Studies, a course that affords students an opportunity to develop skills highly valued by bioscience industry companies. Case study projects, offered in collaboration with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, serve as the cornerstone of this course and offer students opportunities to work directly with industry representatives on company-specific, and often business-related, problems. MMB students utilize scientific and business training to organize and develop each project to meet the host company’s needs; for many of these companies, project deliverables offer broad, positive impact on company operations. Data collected from alumni and industry representatives strongly suggests that case study project experiences allow students to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities highly valued by bioscience companies. These features translate into future internship and job positions with bioscience companies and further establish student confidence in their ability to perform job duties.