Where did you intern?
I worked at a biopharmaceutical startup company called Celularity in Warren, NJ that is in the clinical trial stages of developing cell therapies derived from placental stem cells for cancer and regenerative medicine applications.
What work did you do as an intern?
I worked in the Technical Operations department on the Analytical development team developing and running assays to assess the functionality of various cell therapies being developed by the company.
How did you obtain this opportunity? What was the application process like?
I heard about the company from a friend of my family who works there as a receptionist, she knew I was majoring in biomedical engineering and told me about the internship program. I sent her my resume and she passed it along to HR (end of December). I was then interviewed over the phone (about 20 minutes) in March over spring break and was given an offer in early April. How the hiring process worked was there was a pool of intern applications which all the scientists and employees could review and interview who they were interested in and then they had a lottery system to pick who each of them wanted to hire. The internship was not advertised in any way except by word of mouth- everyone who ended up working there had a connection to one of the executives or had a family member that worked there. I think they did this because this was only the second year of the program.
Did you work with anyone to help find and/or pursue this opportunity?
I got this opportunity through a connection from my hometown. I did not work on any part of the process with anyone from the U of R, but I looked at the resume templates on the career center website.
What did you gain from this experience?
I learned many fundamental laboratory skills such as cell culture, assay development, aseptic techniques, experimental design, and how to operate machinery like centrifuges, cell counters and plate washers. I also learned a lot about immunology, cancer biology, and chemistry. I learned a lot about the biopharmaceutical industry and what kinds of drugs are being developed, and about the FDA and clinical trials. I learned about the differences in facilities and procedures in R&D vs Manufacturing and about the many different types of jobs available in the industry. I also learned presentation skills as I presented my work to the senior scientists and executives of the company at the end of the summer. I was able to meet so many amazingly smart people at the company in leadership, scientific, and business roles that I learned so much from. I built a great bond with my mentor which I know I will benefit from for years to come. I made such good friends with the other 10 interns and we still talk weekly!
Any particularly memorable experiences?
Presenting to the executives at the end of the internship and being able to answer all of the questions asked by the CEO and chief scientific officer was definitely a great and memorable experience. We also had several company events like a picnic with games and food and a bouncy house, and we went to a baseball game with all of our mentors. We also got a tour of the manufacturing facility/cord blood and placenta banking facility which was very cool!
Any advice for other students who are interested in pursuing an internship?
Don't be afraid to send along your resume to any connections you might have or make. Be open minded with what companies you apply to- bigger isn't always better! You might have less competition applying to an internship at a smaller company.
Questions? Ask Caroline!