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Biotech Partners Places Largest Group of Summer Interns in its History

Biotech Partners, the nonprofit connecting youth to biotechnology, has placed over 40 interns this summer.

Executive Director Deborah Bellush told BayBio Institute that the organization has placed 43 at-risk high school students from Berkeley and Oakland Technical High Schools in paid summer internships with companies and institutions throughout the Greater Bay Area.

“This is our largest cohort in the twenty-year history of Biotech Partners,” said Bellush. “This year’s students have dedicated themselves to completing all the job preparedness training, learning the instruments and practices that they need to assist at the various sites, and shown the comportment and maturity necessary to work in the biotech, bioscience and healthcare fields.”

Still, Biotech Partners is seeking eight $2,500 sponsorships to support these remarkable young people in their positions. All sponsors are recognized at the end-of-summer internship poster competition and celebration.

For eight weeks (June through August), Biotech Partners (BP) students are providing skilled technical support to scientists and technicians at 16 Bay Area sites, including Aemtek Laboratories in Fremont, Alameda County Sherriff’s Office Crime Lab in San Leandro, Bayer HealthCare in Berkeley and San Francisco-Mission Bay, Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) in Oakland, Highland Hospital in Oakland, Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville, Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Libby Laboratories in Berkeley, Mango Materials in Albany, Xoma in Berkeley and four UC Berkeley Labs.

In this unique internship program that connects academic coursework in biotech directly to career-based employment, participating high school students also attend four evening workshops in which they share their experiences, receive financial and time management training and complete other assignments—an interview with a co-worker, a brochure marketing the worksite and a poster and presentation about their internship experience.

To prepare for the internship, the students via an application process participation in Biotech Partners’ Biotech class during their junior year. This course features a bioscience curriculum devised in collaboration with industry professionals and academics, three days per week of hands-on lab activities that include proper use of science lab equipment, and job readiness training such as interviewing, resume-writing and proper worksite comportment.

“Our classroom is set up like a worksite,” said High School Program Manager Marithess Rico. “Students sign in as if they are going to work. We create expectations and deadlines. And the students love it. Our attendance is nearly perfect! For students who have been less involved in their education for years, this is a remarkable achievement.”

Currently celebrating 20 years of community service, Biotech Partners has been providing a comprehensive, hands-on academic and job training program in the sciences to Berkeley and Oakland public school students from populations typically underrepresented in the sciences – especially students of color, young women and those from low-income households. The program has a 100 percent high school graduation rate and 100 percent college matriculation rate.

“We are all so amazed by the emotional maturity and self-confidence of our interns that we sometimes forget they are only 17 years old! They pick up everything quickly and are able to work on their own without us telling them what to do. They are just as competent as many Cal undergraduate students that have worked in the facility,” said Hitomi Asahara, UC Berkeley DNA Sequencing Lab Supervisor.

To provide financial support or learn more about Biotech Partners, please contact Jerry Metzker, Development & Marketing Manager at 510.705.7324 or info@biotechpartners.org.