Also, I'm not to keen on working for free, either, unless that's not as outlandish a concept as I perceive it to be.
April 15, 2011 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Thinking way, way ahead filter: I would like an industry internship for summer 2012, between the first and second year of my MSc in Biochemistry program. How do I go about securing it?

I'll be a graduate student in Sweden starting this fall, but as far as I understand at this point, I will not be expected to spend the summer between my first and second year there. I have two years of full-time biomedical research experience at a hospital-affiliated research institute, and two and a half more (part-time but paid) at my undergraduate school prior to graduating in 2009. I'm not entirely sure whether I will go on to get more schooling after the MSc, so I'd like to experience what working in industry would be like.

I would rather spend the summer either in Seattle, Houston, or somewhere outside of the United States, in another English-speaking country (Australia would be great). I speak other languages as well, but my science vocabulary is exclusively in English. I have dual EU/US citizenship and up until now all of my education and experience is from the US.

I know I'm asking this approximately a year too soon, but I would like to know what I should be doing once my program starts to secure a position for the following summer. I'm also having a hard time finding graduate internship positions posted online, and am not sure they even exist. The only possible industry "connections" I can think of are sales representatives.

Where should I look for these opportunities? Would it be totally out of line to contact companies I'm interested in and inquire about possibly non-existant internship programs – basically, try to get someone with authority to want me there?
posted by halogen to Work & Money (3 answers total)
The most important thing is funding; will you be funded during that summer between your first and second year?

Look for grants (your grad secretary should have a list and disseminate them as they come up) - there are a bunch that are specifically for doing research abroad, funded by either the "home" country or sometimes by the host country.

On the other hand, find labs that you'd like to work in and cold call them. Your supervisor might also have friends (whom they did their PhD in or their postdoc) who have labs of their own now and would be amenable for having you as a visiting scholar. Also, the PI of the labs you're interested in might also know of grants that you could apply for to fund your time there.

In my lab, a visiting scholar from Portugal essentially cold-called my PI and arranged to work in our lab for a year as a visiting scholar; the next summer, she sent one of her PhD students over to our lab to do some research.
posted by porpoise at 1:57 PM on April 15, 2011

Response by poster: porpoise, the scenario you are describing wouldn't be a problem at all, I assume, with the academic connections I have now and will develop in the future. The thing is that I would like to work in industry, i.e. a commercial R&D facility – pharmaceutical or else, in which case funding would be irrelevant. As far as I understand, I cannot take any government funds I may have and spend them on private research anyway.
posted by halogen at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2011

disclaimer: I'm not in your industry, but I'm finishing up a grad program and managed to secure an internship in my new field for this summer.

The simple (and useless by itself) answer is: network.

Get a LinkedIn profile, put effort into it, and start adding people you already know. Work from there. Do informational interviews with companies you're interested in. Talk to your program director - very key - for advice, who should I talk to, what professional societies should I join?
Join and make your presence known. Repeat this sort of thing enough times, and the answer may present itself or someone you know may know who to talk to. But the starting point is always your program's director or career services, and then your own (fairly well developed, it sounds like) network. Put it to work as early as you can with the focus on informational interviewing until such time as you are actually in the right time frame to seek an internship.
posted by canine epigram at 6:20 PM on April 15, 2011

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